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Running head: MY PERSONAL HEALTH BELIEFS

Student # 822336236

My personal health beliefs


Student: Dalia El-Athamna
Student No: 822336236
Date Submitted: Oct 11, 2012
NURS 160: Practical Nursing Theory 1
Instructor: Sharon Aka
Humber College ITAL

My personal health beliefs


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My personal health beliefs


Human beings are undoubtedly the most interesting of all creatures. God says in the
Islamic holy book, the Quran; O, mankind! We have created you from a male and a female and
made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another (Quran, 49:13). We all
come from different backgrounds and with us we carry different cultures and religions. Culture
shapes the way we view our health and the way we react to illness just as much as our genes do,
really. I am a Muslim, a religion that affects every aspect of my existence, it affects the way I
view my own health and the way I define what being healthy really means. This paper provides a
brief representation of my own personal health beliefs under the scope of my religion, Islam.
Body
My own definition of health
We are programmed to think that being healthy is not having diabetes or cancer, we
tend to forget that there are other just as equally important aspects to health. I believe in a
holistic approach to health where physical is not necessarily the focus. Physical, emotional and
spiritual health are inseparable, they are parts that make a person completely healthy. If one part
is unhealthy, all other parts will suffer. We have to take care of our body, mind and soul and give
each part equal attention and awareness.
I believe that having stable relationships and a good support system is healthy, having
self-respect is healthy and I also believe that believing in a higher power of existence is healthy.
My personal beliefs best fits the holistic approach to health. (Potter & Perry, 2009) explain that
The practice of holistic nursing regards and treats the clients mind, body and spirit (p.760). In
this approach methods such as simple touch, massage, music and prayer are used, as well as
treatment of the underlying condition through medication, therapy and surgery.
My cultural beliefs and their effect on my health
My current health beliefs are not only based on my personal opinion, but are heavily

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influenced by my religion. Islam is a complete way of life that also takes a holistic approach to
health. Although I commonly seek a cure through medical or surgical means, I still look to my
cultural and religious traditions to address social and spiritual problems. There are many
preventative measures that I use, these include; personal hygiene, dietary measures and avoiding
harmful addictive habits like smoking and alcohol.
I pray five times a day, before prayer I perform ablution which is washing the hands, face
(including; mouth, nose, ears and wiping the hair), arms and feet. This is a part of my daily
hygiene. Islamic dietary measures that I practice include the prohibition of eating pork and
alcohol consumption. Pigs harbor many harmful microorganisms that can cause disease in
humans. As for alcohol, it is well known that alcohol addiction is the leading cause of hepatitis
and liver failure. I am prohibited from intentionally harming myself, for example through
smoking or committing suicide because in Islam life is considered sacred and belongs to god.
I believe that the words of the Quran have a spiritual and emotional healing. I read the
Quran in times of illness or depression because it has comforting words and is a source of peace
and ease. (Matthews, 2000) demonstrates in his medical and scientific research that religious
commitments aid in the prevention and treatment of emotional disorders, disease and injury and
enhances recovery. Many hospitals in Canada provide a space for religious and spiritual practice,
and chaplains are often regarded as part of the healthcare team (Potter & Perry, 2009).
How I can improve my personal health practices
Today, we are sometimes so engaged in our daily lives and chores that we forget to take
care of ourselves and so there is always room for improving my health and well-being. I try to do
this by consuming healthier, more nutritious food. Junk food is so accessible that I sometimes
find it easy to go to a drive through and pick up a meal on the go. I try to make home cooked
meals as much as possible so that I can provide my family and myself with a more healthier
alternative. I would also like to be more active and exercise on a daily basis. I try to do this by

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walking at least 30 minutes every day.


Comparison of Muslim and Sikh health beliefs
In a class comparison with (TK Cheema, personal communication, October 5, 2012) who
is from the Sikh faith, Cheema and I noticed that Muslim and Sikh cultures surprisingly have
many similarities. Both faiths come from a long line of home and herbal remedies, so it is of no
surprise that this is the first line of defence for acute illness in both cultures. For example natural
herbal remedies used for a sore throat include; drinking lemon and honey tea, garlic juice and
ginger tea.
We also noted that both Muslims and Sikhs come from extremely family-oriented
backgrounds, in times of illness relationships become stronger and families get together more
often. Usually all family members are informed about the illness and everyone gathers to show as
much support as possible. In times of chronic and terminal illness again family and friends
support is huge in both cultures. Home remedies are again tempted, however at this stage both
cultures seek further intervention by going to their family doctor or hospital. Prayer for the sick
by their family and friends occurs and also the affected person will turn to god asking for health.
The major difference occurs at the time of death. For Sikhs, there is a huge emphasis on
letting the soul move onto the afterlife and this is done by cremating the dead and throwing the
ashes in a running river. When this happens the soul is released. Sikhs believe in reincarnation,
the soul must be completely detached from earth so that the next phase of life can occur. Humans
can come back to earth in the form of a plant or animal. Muslims on the other hand believe that
life on earth is only temporary and death is merely the beginning of the next life in heaven or hell
depending on good and bad deeds. Muslims bury their dead as opposed to cremating.
How my nursing practices maybe influenced because of cultural differences
Understanding patients cultures and their values is essential to reduce healthcare
diversities and provide high quality patient care. Culture shapes patients experiences,

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perceptions, decisions and how they relate to others. It influences the way they respond to
medical services and preventative interventions and impacts the way physicians deliver these
services (Sutton, 2000). It is easier for nurses to deal with patients if he/she understands their
culture.
Just from the previous brief comparison between two cultures, I see that as a healthcare
provider in a region like the Greater Toronto Area, I will encounter people of very different
backgrounds. All patients irrespective of their backgrounds should be treated with utter most
respect. As a nurse, I need to educate myself on how cultures respond to illness even if just
briefly. This will help me provide the holistic nursing which I believe in and it will have a
positive impact on my response to acts that might be foreign to me.
Having said that I have no doubt that throughout my career I will encounter many belief
systems that will oppose mine and might even offend me on a personal level. Not only that but I
will also encounter patients who might be offended or scared of my hijab (head cover) or faith.
Either way, it will be challenging to deal with these situations. As a nurse and an educator, I
need to educate myself as well as others on how to be culture sensitive and focus on the
healthcare being provided.
Conclusion
We often believe that illness is a result of a particular disease that affects our physical
well-being. However in the holistic nursing approach, as well as the Islamic view on health,
physical is not the only means to be ill, emotional and spiritual health is also taken into account.
The three parts are of equal importance. Culture dictates who we are and what our health beliefs
are, it controls how we react to illness and medical involvement. Hence it is very important that I
as a nurse be aware of different cultures and what their view on illness is, this will help me
provide a better, more effective healthcare.

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References
Matthews, D. (2000). Is religion good for your health. God for the 21st century, 103.
Potter, P. A., & Perry, A. G. (2009). Canadian Fundamentals of Nursing. Toronto: Elsevier
Canada.
Quran, chapter 49, verse 13.
Sutton, M. (2000). Cultural Competence. Family Practice Management, 58.