Taking care of your health and ensuring you live the best life possible is a fairly simple goal. Few of us go through life thinking: “I wonder how I can make myself feel worse and shorten my lifespan today?”
Instead, we do what we can with the time we have available. There are few people who, if forced to be honest, would be able to admit that they do enough to take care of their health. Most of us just try and slot in doing the right things when we can, for as long as we can. To put a more positive spin on this, let’s say that our intentions tend to be in the right place – even if we don’t entirely live up to them!
Here’s a question: what are you picturing when you think of you taking care of your health? Is it you on a treadmill? Eating a salad? Or perhaps you’re relaxing with your eyes closed?
In reality, taking care of your health is a little more complex than a few oh-so-on-trend self care techniques. You have to approach your health in a holistic way; i.e. understanding the way each area of health can influence the others. To truly take charge of your future health, you need to try and give equal time to these four key areas.
Let’s start with an easy one, because it’s the most obvious: the health of your body. It’s pretty hard to feel good in any other regard if you feel in poor physical condition. Here are three strategies that can ensure you feel as good as you possibly can, body-wise:
- Limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat. Carbs become sugar in the body; a necessary form of energy, but also one of the least reliable. It might feel great to eat a big pile of pasta, but after a couple of hours, you’re going to feel your energy dip. Focus on higher portions of proteins and healthy fats for a cleaner source of energy.
- Going to the gym is all well and good, but are you focusing on the three different sources of fitness? Not only should you aim for cardiovascular fitness, but also strength and suppleness. Vary your workouts to ensure each area is getting the attention it needs.
- Fix your sleeping pattern. We all like to have a lie-in on the weekends, but this can actually disturb your circadian rhythm. Try and get up at the same time every day, though on the weekends there’s no harm in indulging in a nice nap!
Not caring for your mental health can lead to huge problems. Problems that not only impact your quality of life, but can have impact on your physical health. It’s essential you give your mental health the time it deserves, to ensure you don’t reach a point of self-medication and having to check your insurance coverage to see if any treatment is covered. To avoid that, practice the following:
- See a therapist regularly, even if you don’t feel you have anything to say. A professional can help to identify problems before they begin to fully crystallize, giving you a chance to intervene at the first sign of problems.
- Eat right. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the foods we eat change our brain chemistry. Try and avoid processed foods in particular; they’re fine for a one-off treat, but not as a staple part of your diet.
- Let your brain relax. We spend all day on the go, to the point where our brains don’t get sufficient time to calm down and process through the day. Try to spend at least 15 minutes before you go to bed, just sitting in silence and deep breathing. Give your head a chance to clear itself and calm down before trying to sleep.
Emotional health has a huge knock-on effect for the rest of our bodies. The more stressed we are, for example, the more our body struggles to function as it should. This can lead to genuine problems, sometimes as severe as cardiac issues – all because we’re stressed. Taking care of your emotions is a big part of handling stress, so try these methods to ensure you keep this vital side of you healthy:
- Don’t stew on things. If something – or someone – has annoyed you, then you have two choices. Confront them about the issue, or let it go. It can sometimes help to write a letter detailing your grievances; this can help to clarify your thoughts and given them an outlet. Most of the time, this alone is sufficient, and you won’t want to send the letter. If you do want to send it, then that’s fine too – anything is better than just letting your emotions worsen.
- Learn to be honest with yourself. Don’t tell yourself a situation is fine if it obviously isn’t. There’s no point trying to deceive yourself; it can actually make you feel worse rather than better. Instead, focus your energies on rectifying the situation until you genuinely are fine with it – a far healthier approach.
- Try free writing. Sometimes, there may be thoughts and emotions bubbling through your head that you can’t quite get to grips with. Free writing is sitting with a pen in hand – or your fingers over a keyboard – and just detailing anything that comes to mind. It can be extremely freeing to just let your thoughts spill forth. If you identify any issues you can solve, then this also gives you a practical target that will have an emotional benefit.
You will be surprised how much these three areas have a tendency to influence one another. If you truly want to get the best from life and flourish with health, then the best bet is to focus your energies on an even split of the three components to consider. By doing so, you’ll be healthier than you’ve ever been – in more ways than one.