Beloveds! This week I was interviewed by Craig Sparrow. Craig is the Director of ‘Healing Path to Wellness’ on the Central Coast, NSW. Here they are tackling mental health through a holistic approach, addressing the spiritual, emotional and physical aspect of people’s health and seeing amazing things. What he and his wife are pioneering is nothing short of incredible.
Craig asked to interview me this week! Here is the interview:
Introduction – perhaps we could speak about your experience as a Doctor during this COVID-19 response and share some good news about this current season?
“It is an interesting position being a doctor in this season. Our hospitals taking cues from other nations prepared for the worst. Many of us got allocated to areas we were not used to like Emergency and ICU. We are starting training for an influx of COVID, and started having endless modules and training of what to do. The change, constant preparation, and the general anxiety of what we could be seeing and treating has been very confronting for me personally and for our cohort. The reality that multiple doctors had died overseas, as well as the general fatigue of being on high alert and in unfamiliar times at work has been stressful for us all.
The good news is, however, that the Australian leadership from a governmental level, and then at the health level, to the executives and the directors of the medical units in each hospital have been just breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. It has made me so grateful that I live in Australia. What’s more the Australian people, I have found so generous, outward, so compliant and understanding, reasonable and for the most part selfless. We didn’t get nearly the influx that was expected. It is absolutely turning around. The hospital is starting to reintroduce elective surgery. The government will slowly be lifting restrictions to get Australians to go back to work.
We as Doctors have been grateful for the leadership of our nation, the compliance and attitude of the Australian people and the kindness of God that we have been spared what other countries have had to endure with this virus. Our job now is to be outward as an Australian people for places like India who have really really been affected and give of our prayers our money, our time and our resources to do what we can to help people whose lives will never be the same.”
You exude a love for health and fitness. Has that always been at the forefront, or did some of your previous life experiences shape your passion for this feature of life? (maybe a chance to share some of your story?)
“I have always loved to be healthy and fit. As a young girl, I was a long-distance runner, loved to swim, and throughout school and university have always been very active and fit. The transition from a personal passion to a life message has become so much clearer in my time as a Doctor when I worked in the community. Here I saw that over 95% of the cases I was seeing of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, as well as a whole plethora of mental illness was highly affected or even directly caused by what we put in our mouths and how we lived our lives. Meaning that much of what I was seeing day in and day out as a Doctor in the community was preventable or contributed to by how we lived. This made we so passionate about the fact that we were treating symptoms and trying to mop up the floor rather than addressing lifestyle and changing the way we think, eat and live which would turn off the tap.”
Anxiety is a hot topic at present. In fact, national statistics suggest 1 in 4 Australians will experience an anxiety-related condition at least once in their lifetime. Is COVID-19 a significant catalyst for increased anxiety or are there other triggers you have observed?
“I wonder if Covid-19 actually caused anxiety or if it just revealed what was already there. I think there are so many people, and myself included at times in my life where there is understated anxiety that is so ‘normal’ that we don’t even recognise that it is there. It manifests, with me as irritability, or sometimes when I am feeling the most overwhelmed, I take on more projects, become even more “productive’ and ‘busy’.
Sometimes it takes these intense times in our lives such as COVID-19 or other traumatic events that we actually realise that we don’t have peace, that our mental health isn’t in a healthy state. And rather than cause the anxiety it reveals what is already there.”
How would you encourage listeners to pursue healing and freedom from anxiety related triggers that might be arising during this isolation, restriction, contraction of life season that is being experienced?
“This season where everything, as we have known it has been stripped away, is such a perfect opportunity. If we let it now is such a perfect time to re-evaluate everything.
Actually, take time to ask your self some questions.
Are you happy with your health? Are there things about my diet, exercise, or health that I could change? Are there things which are in the back of my mind that I have wanted to change but have continued to put it off because I have been too ‘busy’ to be preoccupied. Is now the time to think about making those changes to my diet. Is now the time to pursue that counselling that I need. Is now the time to see a Doctor about those health conditions. Is now the time to instil healthy movement and buy that bike and start going for long afternoon rides?
Do you love your job or are you in a vocation that really isn’t your passion? If so what are you doing about it? I am not telling you to quit, but I am telling you to seriously make intentional steps to make a way to love what you do. If you want to study, enrol in something part-time. I for one am continually studying. Right now, I am studying a diploma in nutrition so that I have the credentials and knowledge behind my name for my program and book. If you want to write, take a writing course and start to write every day. Even for 30 minutes.
Take courage to go there! Face your fears and address your anxieties. Are there things in your life that you know you haven’t dealt with? Is there grief or trauma or anxieties or lies that you are believing that you know are holding you back? Having insight into areas of your life is so important otherwise we go through life on autopilot and tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. Seek wisdom! I personally find it hard to be vulnerable, and so unpacking parts of my life to trusted mentors, a professional and becoming accountable to learn how to change have been the hardest yet the most important learning curves for me. Actually, be proactive about getting help from the right sources. And be intentional about growing and learning and getting better.
One of the benefits of this season is the value and resurgence on the prioritisation of relationships and family. As a speaker and author about marriage and relational health, how could listeners be using this time to benefit their own relationships?
“Gosh I love this Question. I have learned over the years that without relationships everything is smoke and mirrors. Slowing down and having to be cooped up with my husband has been so dreamy. We have used this time to nest together at night. We study or write or read together, watch Netflix and go for huge walks and talk about EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. It has been the silver lining for this season. If you are married or in a relationship or have a family, see this time as the biggest gift. Walk with your family. Go on huge bike rides. Play board games. Spend time sitting and talking. Be bored together. Make homemade pizza dough. Make a homemade slow-cooked meal. ISO bake. If we let it this could be in some ways some of the most rewarding times of our lives and the treasured memory of our relationships.
Fun is such a key to mental and holistic wellbeing. Many of us have become WAY too serious!!! What have you observed about the significance of fun experiences as a foundation for healthy wellbeing and increased hope?
“You know I decided a few years ago that if it wasn’t fun, or full of joy than I was not interested. But you know I have learned that having joy and learning how to have fun is not so much circumstantial but about your attitude and outlook in life. So, goodness I make fun one of the highest priorities in my life. I am constantly looking for ways to laugh. I try and find the funny side of everything. I make private jokes with my husband so that I can catch his eye in public and laugh our guts out on the inside. We are constantly finding funny little tubes to crack each other up with. We plan fun little getaways. We go to food courts just to watch all the interesting people! We laugh at nothing and everything.
Fun, and laughter is everything. Always look for new experiences to create new memories whether it be little holidays, day trips to the beach, picnics in the park, bike rides to get ice cream, trying to replicate your favourite meal, watching your favourite comedian and then repeating his lines over and over. As Chris Gore once said ‘seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit.’ So laugh my beloveds. And if you’re not good at it, then it is time to learn. It is easier than you think.”
Conclusion – releasing some quick, words of encouragement to groups of people:
- Those who are highly motivated A typers who want to get the most out of this time. Re-evaluate your goals. Are you on track? Are you happy with your goals for the year? Do you need to set new ones? Then have a project for this time. Is now a good time to do a course. A writing course, a prophetic course, a masterclass in leadership, a finance or business course online. Even a marketing course! Now is the time!
- Those who are just letting this season happen and holding on to the end of the restrictions? Embrace this time. Learn to find the gold. Get a new exercise routine and go for a long walk or ride every day. Learn how to cook a few glorious meals which you can replicate over and over when Iso is over. Choose one person to bless during this season and absolutely go over and above to making that person feel loved and blessed in every way.
- Those who are struggling but don’t know what to do next? Beloveds reach out. Who do you trust? Who is full of wisdom in your life. Your local church can help you find support. Or do you need professional help? Your doctor can direct you to counsel or medical help. DO NOT do this alone.
- Those who are facing significant relational challenges at present? Once again reach out. Sometimes when things are kept in the dark they hold so much more power over you than when they are brought out into the light. So reach out to a trusted friend, mentor, or to local church pastors, professional helplines or your doctor. One of my favourite quotes from the movie Green Book is “The world is full of lonely people afraid to make the first move.”
- Those who have become way too serious and don’t know how to have fun anymore. Beloveds start small. Go have a picnic in the park with your family. Take a book and a Frisby and your favourite foods and watch the sunset. Have a glass or two of wine if you like. Tonight put on the most Italian music you can find and make an epic Italian dish. Or put on Bollywood Indian music and make a curry. Or make a middle eastern feast and put pillows on the floor and eat in a circle on the floor. Middle eastern style. It is so much fun. Get your kids and make pizza dough from scratch and then eat it watching your favourite movie. Find a hilarious comedy and watch it over and over. Repeat the lines to each other and laugh till you cry. Plan a holiday for when Iso is over. I know Mark and I are already talking about where we want to go and what we will do. Planning is often more fun than the holiday itself!
Fun is the spice of life! Don’t loose your spice!
If you want to learn more about Craig here is the link to his website and incredible ministry that he is pioneering. I would love for you to get behind what he is doing. Truly…
You are deeply loved and richly cherished.
Dr Christine Greenwood.
Own Your Health. Changing the way You Think, Eat and Live.
Obsessed with fake online shopping. Like I fill my ‘shopping trolley’ and pretend I am purchasing them… I never actually buy what is in my cart. Probably cause it is 1000s of dollars. But gosh it is fun! It is like my favourite pass time. Is that weird? I don’t care I am not going to stop.