Lose weight. Get fit. Eat better. Quit smoking. Quit drinking. According to one Australian website, these are the top resolutions we made as 2018 kicked in. We see these as ways to be well, and the most important areas to start improving in, I guess.
I find it intriguing they’re all aspects of our physical health. It’s important to care about our bodies. One health shop I know has this very provoking question on their wall:
If you don’t look after your body, where are you going to live?
If I asked you to recall a healthy person, I’m pretty sure you’d describe someone who’s physically fit. But are you aware that there’s multiple areas of health, of ways to be well? And being fit in one doesn’t necessarily lead to health in the others. One of our kid’s swim teachers was always on about fitness whilst smoking like a chimney. A neighbour spent hours at the gym – and as much time in the solarium! And plenty of ‘health professionals’ are heavy steroid and/or other drug users.
What’s health anyway? According to the World Health Organisation, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In other words it’s far more than completing a workout or 5k run.
Feel like giving yourself a health checkup? Here are seven different ways for you to be healthy and well in 2018:
We’ve already alluded to this one, and you know it anyway. Physical health includes having good weight for your body, it being able to move well, not folding under stress and operating at it’s best by being fed good stuff. Out of ten, how do you rate?
To live well as an adult you need to take responsibility for your money. This isn’t about whether you’re in the top 10% of income earners, it’s about whether you consciously think about and manage what you have in an appropriate manner. Do you have enough money for today, are you saving some for bigger ticket items you’d like in the medium term, and are you tucking a little away for the long term? Go on, tell me: Are you managing your money – or is it managing you? How’s your financial health?
Personal relationship health
How goes it between you and the people you’re closest to? Are the conversation lines open? Do both sides feel supported and cared for? Can you resolve conflict when it arises? Does your mum, kid, partner and bestie know you appreciate them? Although we’re inclined to take these significant relationships for granted, over the longer term they’ll die unless you make an active investment into your personal relationships. How fare you in this area? Is it one of the ways to be well you could improve on?
I prefer to distinguish between our close and significant relationships and those we engage with on a more social level. And I don’t believe you can choose only one or the other to do well in. So, how do you go socially? Do you have enough friends and colleagues through work, your interests, causes and social media to keep you entertained and engaged in worthwhile pursuits? And do you put enough into these social aspects to feel as though you belong somewhere? What’s your score out of 10 for social health?
For me, emotional health isn’t about always feeling happy. It’s being able to recognise – and deal with – both the positive, happy feelings that come our way, and the negative ones we’d rather avoid. Nobody has a perfect life, so bad’s bound to happen. But have you developed your resilience so you can bounce yourself back, and have you learned how not to take offence? (I dealt with that topic recently). At the end of the day, the only person responsible for how you feel’s you. How do you rate yourself in emotional health?
In many ways, mental health’s a combination of the three previous areas. But it also includes being aware of your tripwires and making choices to release them. (A tripwire’s something that makes you fall down and be less than you could be.) Unfortunately, blaming others for the state you’re in won’t bring you health -even though some people have probably done you ill! Many, many problems start with the thought processes happening inside our heads. It’s not the cake or the alcohol that blows your resolutions! I find it such a shame that most of us underestimate the importance of this area, because of all the ways to be well and healthy, it probably has the greatest impact on our lives. Which is why most of my courses (on this other website) give a great deal of attention to this area of wellbeing.
Of all the ways we can be healthy, this is the one least considered. Whether you believe in a formal religion or not, you have a spiritual component. It’s the place where gratitude can live (and thrive), where the wonder of birth is considered (many new mothers are extremely spiritually aware!) and your place in the universe gains perspective. So if you don’t take time to pause, reflect, or contemplate, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You can develop your spiritual health by finding a place of worship, asking the big questions in life (and finding the answers!), slowing down, or being in nature and paying attention to what’s around you. Develop a gratitude practice, learn to meditate or pray, stop rushing and build this area of your health. You’ll be glad you did!
Like you, I don’t star in all these areas of my life equally. But I do recognise the need to be monitoring a much wider definition of personal health and wellbeing than I used to. Which of the above ways to be well would benefit from a bit of your time and attention in 2018?