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5 Pillars of Health

The 5 Pillars of Health to help Balance the Nervous System

The sympathetic “fight, flight or freeze” response responds to and drives tension, pain, anxiety, depression and stress. This includes any type of stress – cognitive (ie busy work or family commitments), emotional (relationship distress), spiritual/personal (ie self esteem concerns, depression or anxiety) or physical stress (ie intense work outs). This sympathetic response is meant to be a short term response to help us in emergency situations, but many people live in the stress response day-to-day. This response diverts blood flow away from our organs and hormone signals focus on helping the body to respond to outward challenges. Having this ongoing stress response can have many negative impacts on muscle tension, pain response, ability to sleep and recover, and poor digestive and hormone health profiles.


On the other hand we have the parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system which diverts blood flow to the organs for digestion, promote healing, recovery, immune response and reproductive/sexual health. We want to decrease the stress response, whether this means asking for help, finding new coping strategies and management styles or offloading some of the responsibilities you have. Counselling is an excellent way to identify current burden and coping strategies and find new ways to achieve balance. We can also work to increase the rest and digest response to help balance stresses we cannot change by working to optimize the 5 Pillars of Health; Movement, Relaxation Response, Nutrition, Social Connection, Belief in Wellness and Spirituality.


Movement - Move 30minutes/day

  • can be 10 mins x 3 episodes

  • can be specific (ie going to the gym, running etc)

  • can be for fun! (ie dance, yoga)

Relaxation Response - Calm for 20minutes/day

  • can be in 5 minute sessions

  • yoga, meditation, journaling

  • being mindful during routine tasks (ie bed time routine)

  • check out this link for more ideas

Nutrition - Real food, Mostly vegetables, Not too much

Social Connection - Daily Connection

  • NOT social media!

  • expressing gratitude, calling a friend, getting together, joining a group, volunteering

Belief in Wellness and Spirituality - Explore You!

  • being aware of your self talk (do you build yourself up or break yourself down? Are you kind to yourself?)

  • explore coping strategies in order to embrace mistakes

  • identifying barriers and brainstorming realistic ways to manage them

  • identifying the “why” behind your goals


Mythbusters – you do not (read: cannot) change all of these factors at once! You might find you do really well in some categories but need to take some time to explore some of the other factors. Take your time with this and try to be patient with yourself as you learn new habits and thought processes. A great way to approach this is to pick one pillar to focus on for one month, then try to do one thing per day in that pillar. For example, if we choose nutrition then you can decide to focus on healthy lunches every day, or eating 5 servings of veggies per day, or just eating one fruit or vegetable at each meal. Once that is part of your routine, then you can expand from there in terms of nutrition or change to another category, like relaxation – stretching and taking deep breaths for 10 minutes before bed is a great place to start (and will likely help with sleep, too!)


If you want to learn more about The 5 Pillars, check out the documentary The Connection or the book “The Whole Health Life” for a great overview of why each of these factors is important for overall health and happiness.

If you have any questions about the 5 Pillars of Health or any other Pelvic Health concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Jenny or Robyn here.

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