The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, January 20, 2021, Page 19, Image 19

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    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
19
The new health metric —
CAPACITY FOR COMPASSION
Your Story
MATTERS
Audry Van Houweling, PMHNP
Columnist
As I sit down to write this, nearly
375,00 Americans have left us from
COVID-19. Many of these deaths
were in isolation, away from loved
ones, and the chance for process-
ing and goodbyes interrupted by
restrictions, adding to the isolation
of those grieving.
Thousands (if not millions) more
who have been impacted by the
virus continue to contend with long-
term and sometimes debilitating
symptoms that make the motions of
life seem daunting. While inexplica-
ble, painful, and unfortunate physi-
cal and emotional calamities have
always had the potential to intrude
upon our lives and those we love, it
seems COVID-19 has illuminated
the idea that a body in relative work-
ing order is ultimately a privilege.
As a mental-health provider with
a focus in functional medicine, it
seems shallow, if not neglectful,
to not talk to my clients about the
value of those very basic tenants
of wellness: movement; nutrition;
sleep; and connection.
In a functional medicine model
there is no distinction between men-
tal and physical.
Your body (that, yes, includes
your brain) is constantly in an inti-
mate, bidirectional dance, where
a move or shift in one system can
impact all others. Our emotions
are driven by physiological events
and can also trigger physiological
events. How we treat our emotions
and the story we tell ourselves about
emotional experiences has a huge
impact on our wellness from head to
toe. And yet, we still live in a soci-
ety skittish around confronting emo-
tions and quick to shame or label
certain emotions as weak.
I often ask my clients to define
what constitutes <health.= What
constitutes a <healthy= person?
From a holistic perspective and with
a bias toward emotional wellness, I
have seen many people check all the
theoretical boxes watered down by
outdated metrics and idealism, and
yet be overwhelmed with despair.
Top-ranked in their career, hit-
ting the gym every day, grabbing
a green smoothie on their way to
work, returning to their meticu-
lously maintained home, and end-
ing their day tuning into their five-
minute meditation before they lie
in their hypoallergenic bedding,
and yet, peeling back the layers of
emotional vulnerability is terrifying,
as it goes against their continuous
quest for perceived control.
I have found in my career that the
greatest suffering comes in running
away from emotion, not the emo-
tions themselves. As we habituate
distraction, numbing, and running,
the disconnect that transpires can
impact our whole-body wellness,
our relationships, and our spirit.
As we enter the new year and in
the pursuit of new goals and resolu-
tions, I want to challenge you with a
definition of health that transcends
the number on the scale, dietary hab-
its, blood pressure, or cholesterol.
My personal definition
of health is:
Cultivating a lifestyle,
relational landscape, and
spirituality that maximizes
our capacity for compassion
and connection.
Much of how society tells us to
constitute health is altogether shallow.
Why are you losing that 10 pounds,
cutting out carbs, or dusting off the
treadmill? Pursuing a goal without
meaningful clarity is unsustainable.
If we are honest with ourselves,
most of our pursuits for better
health have roots in seeking con-
nection. Some of us simply don9t
like to admit that because in doing
so, we are admitting vulnerability.
Somewhere underneath the aesthet-
ics of a slimmer waistline is prob-
ably the desire to be more accepted,
seen, and acknowledged.
I will not pretend to have been
immune to the emotional roller-
coaster of the past year. My inner
empath has felt heavy, and the
reassurances for myself and others
sometimes sparse. Nevertheless, I
acknowledge the energy that I put
forth has consequences both per-
sonally and professionally. And
that goes for all of us. The energy
I bring into sessions with clients or
bring home to those I love matters.
Safeguarding that energy is a daily,
intentional practice that sometimes
feels like an uphill battle.
See COMPASSION on page 22
St. Charles Family Care
St. Charles Family Care is passionate about pro-
viding patients with comprehensive medical care close
to home. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the
clinic has been available to provide you with impor-
tant, routine care in a safe environment.
As always, St. Charles provides a team approach
to your care. The Sisters clinic is staffed with primary
care physicians, highly trained medical assistants,
nurse care coordination, an embedded pharmacist and
behavioral health specialist. They offer X-ray services
and an outpatient laboratory.
By using a team-based care approach, St. Charles
works to ensure you receive the treatment you need
based on your unique health circumstances. Because
the Sisters clinic is part of St. Charles Health System,
patients benefit from ready access to specialized ser-
vices, including on-site visiting cardiology, orthope-
dics, and women’s health care.
St. Charles believes active engagement between
you and the clinic team is an important part of achiev-
ing your health care goals.
Call 541-549-1318 to make an appointment.
Sisters Dental
We are here for you!
Trevor Frideres, D . M . D .
Greg Everson, D . M . D .
541-549-2011
www.sistersdental.com
491 E. Main Ave., Sisters
Hours: Mon., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tues.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.;
Fri., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.