Mr. Werchan, when you talk about “vital energy”, what do you mean by that?
dr Sven Werchan: I use this term as a metaphor for health in its experiential dimension. For me, “vital energy” is the tangible dimension of health. We can measure how healthy I am by our internal state, by my vitality, so to speak. That expresses my current quality of life.
How does this differ from traditional definitions of health?
Werchan: We tend to understand health in technical terms. For example, we measure our blood pressure or cholesterol levels. But these things are completely abstract in our daily lives. From my experience, this makes such values not very motivating for people.
Werchan: It is not low cholesterol that makes life beautiful, but a lot of energy. That gives a good feeling and people prefer to work for it.
So vital energy in the sense of mental fitness?
Werchan: Exactly. It’s about how you perceive your own health. Our body is a very complex system that provides us with information about its internal state on many levels, for example physical, mental and emotional. Of course, the body forms the material base, but it only has one soul and it is perceived by someone who is there.
You name six areas of life that affect our energy. Which are?
Werchan: I gave them catchy titles. There are three internal realms, which I call Create Yourself, Love Yourself, and Connect, and three physical realms, which I call Move, Resource, and Nurture Yourself.
What defines these areas?
Werchan: “Create yourself” points to a positive mindset. We now know that the way we perceive our surroundings also has a huge impact on our health. It is about creating and evolving yourself. New impressions also create more and more vitality. “Love yourself” points to the great gap between our knowledge and the implementation of this knowledge. This has a lot to do with how much we value ourselves and what we think we can do. Self-care is a key skill if you want to align yourself to be healthier. “Connect” points to how we attend to our social needs. Everyone knows that encounters with some people bring you down, but release new energy with others.
And the physical dimensions?
Werchan: The psychological areas can release energy, but only what the body has. To increase that, there are also three areas. “Move” simply means: Move. We are made for movement, but we have created a world where movement eases us more and more, be it through cars or escalators, for example. That’s fine, of course, but comfort is a double-edged sword. “Resource Yourself” has as its objective the theme of balance between work and life, that is, finding a good middle ground between effort and rest. The last one is to nurture yourself. Being a nutritionist myself, I know that every molecule that is in our body has been in food before. The material base of everything is our food.
It all sounds like platitudes…
Werchan: In principle, they are. But everyone should see for themselves what areas they cover and how well. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, being better in one area but lacking in another. I’m not reinventing the wheel, but I want to give people a more experiential approach to health. We are always bombarded with a huge amount of knowledge and then it is good to remember from time to time which of them is really important. Otherwise, these things only become important when they get dumped and it’s too late. I find it pitiful. Most of our health expenses in Germany are now diseases that we have contracted through our lifestyle.
In fact, tips like more exercise and a healthier diet are not new. Why do so many people still lack implementation?
Werchan: There is no one answer to this, but several, all of which play a role to some degree. For example, we are victims of circumstances. Sugar is advertised everywhere, we are invited to sit everywhere and so on. Are we also victims of our genes? Yes, we have created a world in which we no longer fit genetically. Are we too weak and just need more discipline? Of course, if we didn’t give so much power to our weakest selves, we would have fewer problems. As humans, we are a highly complex system in an even more complex society: simple cause and effect relationships no longer exist. As a result, the answer always depends on the exact circumstances. Sometimes it’s good to take a break, sometimes it’s better to move on. Sometimes an apple is good to eat, sometimes a piece of chocolate would be a better option.
How does the implementation work best for me?
Werchan: Mindfulness techniques work by learning to observe your impulses. For example, when does the urge to eat chocolate appear, to what need might it be due? Or before taking the escalator instead of the stairs, for example, to ask you if it’s just laziness or if I’m really too exhausted for a little effort.
If I do this for every little decision in my life, it quickly becomes exhausting…
Werchan: That is why I advise making fundamental decisions and aligning with principles in life. In a positive sense, the principle could also be to always use the stairs instead of the escalators. You can make an exception to this in individual cases, but you no longer have to think about it every time. It’s like a wedding. You make a decision and then you live with that person and you don’t ask yourself every day if this is the right one. Today, health is also an ability to manage one’s own life, that is, to manage one’s vital energy.
And if I want to start small, which single lever will have the biggest impact?
Werchan: The most effective lever to obtain more vital energy is nutrition. It is the basis of all energy and radiates in all areas of life.
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