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Mitchell doctor promotes six-pronged approach to healthy living

One Mitchell doctor is hoping to revolutionize the way people view and talk about health care. For Dr. Peter Reynen, who's relatively new to Mitchell, health cannot be defined by what it's not like it is in the dictionary, as "the state of being ...

Dr. Peter Reynen, right, and his wife Camille, left, laugh over coffee last month at Caribou Coffee in Mitchell. Reynen is hoping to change the way people think about and define health. (Sarah Barclay / Republic)
Dr. Peter Reynen, right, and his wife Camille, left, laugh over coffee last month at Caribou Coffee in Mitchell. Reynen is hoping to change the way people think about and define health. (Sarah Barclay / Republic)

One Mitchell doctor is hoping to revolutionize the way people view and talk about health care.

For Dr. Peter Reynen, who's relatively new to Mitchell, health cannot be defined by what it's not like it is in the dictionary, as "the state of being free from illness or injury," but rather "to love and to work."

"We have to expand our understanding of what health is and speak of it in functional terms," Reynen said earlier this month. "What I'm trying to figure out how to do is how to get people ... to understand health in a different way because that helps to guide and direct what we do and how we function."

To be truly healthy, a person must master a six-pronged model including emotional, mental, spiritual, social, financial and physical health, Reynen said, and none can be overlooked.

The theory is based on philosopher Sigmund Freud's ideology that one's ability to love and work is deeply connected to one's degree of happiness and satisfaction with life.

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To define "love," Reynen said it is extending oneself to nurture someone else - it's an action, even if there's no benefit in it for the person performing the action. And "work," to Reynen, is defined simply as "doing what you were put here to do."

While not everyone is destined to be a doctor or lawyer, there's a purpose for everyone's life, Reynen said. And if everyone does their part, one person can affect the health of an entire community. Health, he says, is not a condition, but rather an action, and everyone can be healthier.

And everyone can be kind.

"If you think about holding that door for an act of love for another person, it starts to change who you are and how you see the world," Reynen said. "Studies show when people are kind to one another, their stress levels are reduced, much like sitting up straight."

But what if a person is born with a condition such as cerebral palsy, and has a great mind, but their body doesn't work well, Reynen inquired. That person can be as healthy as can a person with any ailment. With that in mind, Reynen defines a person addicted to drugs and living on the street, for example, as "unhealthy," because that person is choosing to forego the six vitals of health to take drugs that interfere with their ability to care for others or themselves.

"When it comes to health, it's not the productivity you have right now, but doing it for a long time," Reynen said, adding that, while he's promoting alternate health care ideas, physical health is still important. "(Doctors) are trying to help you be as productive as you can for as long as you can. If you don't have a heart attack, or other diseases, it's easier to love and to work both now and in the future."

Related Topics: HEALTH
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