When you hear the word health usually the first thing that comes to mind is being sick. Health is such a loaded word. It encompasses your total being. In order to have health, you have to have a balanced health: Mind, body and spirit.
Having a healthy mind is possible even with a mental illness. Most people think, “Oh this plate has a chip in it -I’ll throw it out.” People with mental illness have this amazing ability to see that chip as a character trait, not a flaw. When you live in a world of darkness, it becomes so easy to see even the smallest measure of light.
Try to remember that no one is perfect. Our flaws are what make us unique. The way to approach your mental health is to embrace your flaws and others around you and find the positive in them. A funny example: My fiancé and I are polar opposites. He is a go with the flow guy and I am a total planner. (I will literally have contingency plans for my contingency plans- yeah, it’s that serious.) We spent months, even years, fighting about his lack of planning ability. One day I had enough and sat down to figure out how I could make him better. I could make him change, I could teach him, I could get him to . . . sounding familiar? It wasn’t until I realized that in order to love him and keep my sanity, I needed to change. I journaled for a few days until I had this epiphany: I love to plan! So now, instead of fighting him about his flaw, I embrace it by putting color coordinated Post-it notes everywhere, sending him sweet reminder texts, making sure to get mother’s day/father’s day cards because he will never remember. Finding the good in that small chip of his has made a tremendous difference for my health and our relationship.
Out of the three: Mind, body and spirit, body may be the easiest to conquer. Eat right and exercise daily. Boom! You’re done. Just kidding, nothing is that simple.
It is important to maintain a relationship with your body. Listen to it! If you feel exhausted all the time, you might need to cut back on sugar or caffeine. Yeah, I said it. Put down the coffee. Walk away –
Go get a physical. Just because you aren’t in school or mom isn’t around to make you an appointment doesn’t mean you can skip it. You don’t have to go to the gym like many swear. I’m not a gym person at all. I love hiking, fishing, walking my dog, biking, soccer, etc. Find what works for you and it will be easier to maintain. The “you are what you eat part” is a little more of a challenge for me.
I. LOVE. FOOD – PERIOD!
I literally love food to the point where I have cheated on my man with a piece of key lime pie in the corner of the kitchen with the lights off and swore the next day that he was the one who ate it. In my unprofessional opinion and in the wise words of Andrew Zimmern, “If it looks good, Eat it!” Moderation is key. My papa always said the best way to diet is to eat half of whatever you want. In 30 years, that was the only diet that has really stuck with me. The point is, treat your body like a machine. If you want it to last and work at its best then you have to tune it.
Spirituality gets a real bad rap with today’s generation. You do not have to go to church to be spiritual, or do yoga, or chant or whatever. I believe the reality of spirituality is creating a connection with you and the world around you.
Sit on the couch, no phone, no tv, no sound. Close your eyes and smell the air.
What are you thinking? What do you hear? What are your dreams?
When you are able to find peace, be it in a church, on your coach, by the water or wherever, you are working on your spiritual health. I find solace and a peace I cannot even begin to describe when I am by the ocean. The way the salt tastes on my lips. The melodic sounds of each wave coming and going. The perky songs of the birds flying overhead. The way the sand feels on my skin . . . I have never known a calmer me. Find what connects you to you – & that is your spiritual health!
Here are some key things to focus on for achieving and maintaining your overall health:
- Be aware of your feelings AND your reactions. Take a deep breathe and choose to walk away for a minute. Analyze what is really upsetting you and make a plan for how to approach or change it.
- No one reads minds. Be sure to let the people you interact with know what is going on in your head or heart so they can react accordingly. This will get rid of so much stress on you and your relationships.
- Own your stress. Figure out what helps you decompress. Boxing, walking, writing, screaming in a pillow, etc. Tell your stress what to do, not the other way around.
- Work hard, play hard. Find a healthy balance between your professional and personal life. Remember to prioritize personal time. Taking care of you is the key to a healthy balance.
- Do something spontaneous. Join a new Facebook group. Go on a date. Join a club in town. Attend a new restaurant. Keeping things interesting will help your mental health in the long run.
- Purposely find meaning. Make a list of what matters to you. What do you want: Goals, dreams, desires? Volunteer at a local shelter, give up a holiday to help a soup kitchen, etc. Finding your purpose will create an unimaginable meaning in your life that will help keep you grounded through the hard times.
- Be gracious. Remember to be thankful for what you have. Instead of being upset you didn’t get a promotion – be thankful you have a job. Instead of getting mad your significant other did something wrong, be grateful you are not alone. Instead of wishing you had that house, or that car or those clothes, remember that you have a house and a car and clean clothes. Focus on the good things in your life. Forgive yourself for making mistakes and forgive others for the same. .