Lately I have been thinking a lot about the scope of health: what that means for me and for others and how we can achieve it. It is as individual for all of us as our DNA is to our cells, but I think there are also some basic generalizations we can make and guidelines we can form about how to get there.
And why is attempting to define health even important? Don’t we just feel good sometimes and feel bad sometimes? I don’t think that’s the case most of the time. I do think hormones, life circumstances, and other variables can make us feel a certain way, no matter how healthy we currently are, but I also believe the decisions we make play the largest part in whether or not we feel our best.
I know when I am operating at my healthiest self, I am able to experience life most fully. When an obstacle comes, I am resilient and can take it in stride. I rebound and can view it as a learning experience and less as a “well that was some bullshit handed to me and everything sucks” kind of situation. I also know that when I am healthy, I feel awesome. I can think clearly, make decisions easier, and am able to be my best self for friends, family, and my goldendoodle, Howard. Why wouldn’t I want to feel like that as often as possible? So personally, I am always trying to figure out what health means to me.
What I have come to understand is that the definition of health can be found less in one particular aspect of my life, such as eating well or exercising, but when all aspects of my self (mind, body, and soul) are balanced. This is a seemingly obvious idea, but it is something I have to remind myself of constantly.
I know my mind is healthy when…
- I am expanding my knowledge base through books, classes, new hobbies, etc.
- I am listening with an open mind to others’ opinions and beliefs.
- I plan my days most efficiently to “get things done” but also have time for myself and others.
- I am operating well at work.
I know my body is healthy when…
- I am eating balanced meals with the goals of enjoyment and fullness.
- I am meal-planning and cooking from home as much as possible.
- I am not drinking too much booze (I know I had one too many when I can feel the after-effects the next day).
- I am exercising regularly, but not so much so that I am exhausted.
- I am getting enough sleep.
I know my soul is healthy when…
- I make time to go on adventures.
- I spend as much free time outside as possible.
- I spoon with my fluff-ball Howard for at least 30 minutes per day.
- I spend time on hobbies like art, reading, or writing.
- I enjoy time with friends and family.
Spending time outside with my husband, Tom, and my pupparoni Howie fills my cup every time.
If I am catering to all three of these components, I know my chances of feeling my best are greatest. It is also necessary to understand that they are all interdependent on each other. If I am not treating my body as I should, my mind and my soul will also suffer. I probably won’t want to learn something new or go on an awesome Chattanooga hike because I won’t feel up for the challenge. And if my soul isn’t at the top of her game (yes, she has a gender!), I might not feel much like cooking or might drink one too many beers because YOLO.
And these will no doubt look very different for you. It is so necessary to sit down every once in a while and figure out what makes you feel your best. It has become increasingly easy to lose your understanding of personal health because we are constantly inundated every day about that thing that will solve all of our problems. We have become reliant on others to tell us the answer. And society so kindly informs us that if we are skinny, have a husband (or wife, but more of a husband), have this much $$$, and eat these superfoods like kale and acai berries we are sure to be happier and healthier. But even if you eat that bowl of cacao chia pudding every morning (no hate, it’s a great food) but don’t listen to your soul and make time for play, you won’t be able to achieve the level of health you want.
I hopped on google and typed in “magazine cover health” into images. Here is a small screenshot of what came up; great example of how society gets in the way of our idea of health.
Also, we all know that life is crazy. If you ask someone how they are doing, 9 times out of 10 they will say “oh man, so busy!”. So oftentimes people think they don’t have time to be healthy. They can only scrape by with barely enough energy for the next day. Making time for themselves is out of the question. And what I would say to this is, have you cut out extra things that don’t bring you happiness? If your bank account is at a safe number, you may be able to cut back on your work hours, assuming your boss is cool. If you feel like you can’t keep up with the housework, could you downsize into a smaller home? Do you say yes to too many things you don’t want to do? Spend the time you could be out adventuring on Facebook or Insta? (*hand-raised emoji* guilty!) It may be necessary to rank some of the things you spend your time doing in terms of importance, and then cut out the crap that gets in the way of you living your healthiest life.
Health is not a passive endeavor that just happens sometimes when we are cutting out calories or meditating before work more often. It is wholly dependent on the balance between mind, body, and soul and usually cannot be found on the cover of a magazine or in the new diet fad. It is also completely unique to each of us. I am interested in knowing what health means to you and how you have managed to implement it in your daily life. Lemme know!