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The Five Pillars of Health... creating a stable foundation (to allow for more energy and adventure!)

Recently, I read a great little light hearted book called ‘Be a Triangle’ by Lilly Singh. The main idea is about creating a stable foundation around your values, to be able to withstand life’s inevitable stresses (just like a triangle stays as a stable structure, no matter what is added to it).

Although this book focuses on mental health in a slightly more spiritual way, it re-enforced my views on how important it is to create that solid foundation of habits to come back to throughout our lives in terms of both our mental and physical health.

We can split these health foundations into five main pillars…

1) Mindset

2) Movement

3) Nutrition

4) Sleep

5) Stress management

These pillars are inspired by another great book I’ve read a few times, The Four Pillar Plan, by Dr Rangan Chatterjee (with a sneaky little extra pillar I feel is very relevant alongside all of the others, Mindset)!

As a Chiropractor myself, I often set small foundational exercises (such as diaphragmatic breathing, pelvic tilts or stretches) and movement baselines (such as getting up every 30-45 minutes when sitting at work) for my patients. This is often a routine I want every patient to gradually get into a habit of doing, to create a good foundation that we can fall back on when life gets busy, or even better, as a baseline to keep building on!

The aim is to move patients forwards by…

1) Decreasing pain

2) Improving function e.g. muscle strength and stability

3) Optimising lifestyle habits- based on the health pillars described above

Spinal health is of course linked to the movement pillar above, but I’ve also found that many of my patients aches and pains may also be compounded by high stress (and lack of techniques to manage this), poor sleep (and therefore lack of repair), low quality nutrition (which can play a role in arthritis, osteoporosis and many other conditions) and certain mindsets (e.g. a fixed mindset or feeling of a lack of control over future health outcomes).

So, creating small sustainable healthy habits within these five pillars is key, not only for spinal health, but of course also for general health.

For me, this doesn’t just boil down to preventing disease. It also means optimising our day to day energy levels and focus to be able to make the most of our relationships, hobbies, holidays and work! I personally feel that the more energy I have, the more fun and adventure I have in life... and that’s what life is all about I reckon! So personally, I focus on these health foundations daily, to give me more energy to be the best person I can be with work (for all the good chats, learning and a fair bit of back crackin’!), with my friends and family, and to travel and hike (Annapurna trail in Nepal for a month later this year and Gwen the campervan hiking trips being the next adventures!).

How do we create, sustain and build on this foundation though?

This boils down to…

1) Making time to regularly reflect on where we’re at and whether this aligns with what we want in life and our values.

2) Planning and implementing tiny sustainable changes to our daily habits.

So, in terms of reflection… How would you rate yourself in terms of the five pillars of health in the last month, from 0-10?

And in terms of planning and implementing tiny habits… what tiny action can you take next week to push you even just 1% in the direction you want to go in with your health?

Starting small may not sound as exciting, but as stated in ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear… if you can get 1% better each day for 1 year, you’ll end up 37x better by the time you’re done!

I’ll be doing a talk in August at Southcote Clinic all about these health pillars, mindset and how to create tiny sustainable health habits to build a solid foundation.

And I’m running my first Recalibrate 12 week Health Coaching course based on creating these tiny sustainable habits, for a small group of patients, starting on 14th June. (Along with this course running again, led by our lovely PT Louise Massett at Southcote, in September!).

But for now… try and get 1% better each day (or even just each week!) to keep strengthening your five health pillars. Or, just be a triangle.

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