Today’s thinking out loud focuses on something that I’ve really based this entire blog around. Through all sorts of ups and downs, successes and failures, and getting back up again, I’ve realized that true wellness isn’t a result of what you look like on the outside, how much money you have, or how many people like you.
Being truly happy and content comes from a) within and b) doing work. The following four facets of health are equally important and I find that whenever I put more work into one over another, my life starts to feel a little unbalanced. True, they are not always equally divided at all times, but I try to focus on them all as I live day to day.
Are there things I could be doing better? Sure, but as long as I’m aware and doing the best I can, I can be content today.
1. Mental Health
I never focused much on my mental health until it started to interfere with my life last year. I knew that I always seemed to feel things more intensely than other people I knew and that I was more comfortable in sadness than in being happy, but I always managed to push through and get things done.
Last year was a turning point for me and I entered therapy, worked HARD on my marriage, and eventually made it through to the other side. I now pay close attention to what’s going on with me mentally and behaviorally.
- TALK about what’s going on
- Take medication when appropriate
- Seek professional help when needed (therapists, counselors, etc.)
2. Emotional Health
Emotional health is about being self-aware, confident, happy, and resilient. This is a part of myself that I didn’t even know HOW to take care of until a couple years ago. I had a repertoire of about three different emotions that I could be feeling at any time: happy, sad, or anxious. When I entered recovery, everything made me “anxious” and it was the only word I knew to describe something that was making me uncomfortable.
It’s taken a LOT of work, but I’m much more self-aware these days. I pay attention when I have a physical reaction to a situation and I stop to ask myself what I’m feeling at that moment or what it was that caused the reaction I’m having. For me, my mental and emotional health are very closely related so I need to make sure I put a good amount of time into both.
- Surround myself with positive and supportive people
- Work on identifying and feeling emotions instead of trying to escape or mask them
- Change my perspective
3. Physical Health
Physical health is a pretty easy one for people to understand. What’s not always easy is following through. Many people know what it is they need to do to take care of themselves physically, but it can be hard to find the push and the motivation to do it.
I’ve always been pretty active, so exercise is important to me. My eating habits cleaned up after I entered recovery, and as I’ve written about before, I try to eat as cleanly as I can during the week days. What I’ve had to work on is making sure to take care of my body even when there’s not something wrong with it. That means annual physicals and dental checkups to make sure everything is still working the way it’s supposed to!
- Exercise & rest when needed
- Eat real, whole foods 80% of the time (weekends are another story)
- Make regular doctor and dental checkups
4. Spiritual Health
This is probably the most nebulous of the four types of health. The explanation that best resonates with me is:
Having compassion, the capacity for love and forgiveness, altruism, joy, and fulfillment help you enjoy your spiritual health. Your religious faith, values, beliefs, principles, and morals define your spirituality. (source)
For a long time, I associated spirituality with religion, but this is not the case. It definitely has it’s place if you are a religious person, but it is not the entirety of what makes up spirituality. You can still work on your spiritual health if you are not religious. For me, spiritual health is about being the best version of myself that I can be by working to see the good in others, being selfless, and just trying to be the change I want to see in the world.
- Try to judge less and empathize more
- Spend time outside
- Identify and OWN my morals and values
- How balanced are your 4 types of health?
- Where could you make improvements?