Dr. Sears’ L.E.A.N. is an acronym that stands for Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition. Lifestyle is how we manage our time and our lives, including the work on our job, our relationships, the way we spend our leisure time, how much sleep we get, how we experience stress – even our spiritual life. Some of these things we believe we can’t change, but we can. We all know that smoking and excessive drinking are bad for health and we won’t belabor the obvious by listing the hazards of each. (See smoking for why it’s bad and how to quit). Cutting out these habits is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle can also be defined in a positive sense, a life filled, as much as possible, with work, relationships, habits, and activities that make a positive contribution to our well-being.
It is important to realize that no one is able to live a stress-free life all day, every day. (That would be boring.) But we can make choices about how to cope with stress. Do the best we can. Pat ourselves on the back for the positives, and don’t dwell on the negatives.
If you have a job that drives you to junk food, makes it impossible for you to exercise, and grinds you down with daily stress, you need to make some changes. You may not be able to run off and join a vegetarian monastery, but what can you do to improve your life? Walk to work? Keep an apple in your briefcase? Do deep-breathing exercises for five minutes at your desk? Put a little more energy into relationships that build you up and shed those that are tearing you down? Does your marriage need some enriching? There are always things you can change to make your life better. Dr. Sears’ L.E.A.N. encourages you to make these changes for the health of both your body and mind.
You may need to make some drastic lifestyle changes. Isn’t your life worth changing jobs? The “L” in lifestyle could also stand for “love” and “laughter.” If there are not enough of these two “L’s” in your job, relationships, habits, or activities, think about what you can change so there is more love and laughter. For some people, change is difficult, since the body and the mind often resist change, but remind yourself we’re talking about change for the better, not for the worse.