How I Invest In My 4 Types of Health

To live a healthy life and find true wellness, it's important to put time into the 4 different types of health: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. See how I invest in mine.

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

Questions:

  • How balanced are your 4 types of health?
  • Where could you make improvements?
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35 Comments

  1. April 14, 2016 / 5:41 am

    I’ve neglected my spiritual health for a long time. I think I felt that I just didn’t need to be bothered with it. I also used to be a lot more spiritual than I am now. But it is something that I need to think about moving forward, especially when we start having kids: how will we raise them?
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…The Biggest DNS: Not Running the Boston MarathonMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:48 pm

      Totally. It’s usually the last one I focus one which I need to work on

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:49 pm

      It’s still a struggle for me as well and I have to constantly work on it!

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:50 pm

      Glad you found it interesting Bethany!

  2. April 14, 2016 / 7:10 am

    For some reason I’ve always lumped emotional and mental health together, but you’re right, they are different!
    I’ve long neglected my spiritual health. I grew up in a very religious household and attended a Jesuit college (which I LOVED thanks to our core requirements, volunteer opportunities, and the people/professors I met, like my husband 😉 ) but since I choose not to attend church regularly and have little time to volunteer, it’s just not my focus anymore. But every so often when I’m in nature or witnessed an act of kindness/generosity, I’m reminded that spirituality is so much more than church/religion.
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    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:51 pm

      Yeah it can be hard to separate the two. I think that’s why i avoided it for so long.

  3. April 14, 2016 / 8:16 am

    Oh, I love this. I love how it’s broken down so it’s easier to work on each component. I also think that it’s important how you phrased spiritual health – it doesn’t have to just be religion and the like, regardless of how religious one is. Your own morals and values are a big part of your spiritual health!

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      Totally!

  4. April 14, 2016 / 9:41 am

    It’s so important to invest in all types of health, because we are a whole person, body, soul, mind and spirit. 🙂 I’m glad that you covered those different types and brought them all together in one post.
    Emily recently posted…WIAW: Loving Life and Peanut Butter …My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      Thanks Emily!

  5. Paula
    April 14, 2016 / 10:07 am

    With the decline in number of people who self-report as “religious”, I think that we, as a population, are sort of re-discovering how to be spiritual outside the context of organized religion. The rising popularity of yoga and meditation probably reflect an improved consciousness of the importance of spiritual health; but I would still guess this is often the most nebulous piece of our well-being! A while ago, I read the book “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters”, and the author suggests that this absence of spiritual connection might be a contributing factor in lots of eating and body image disorders. Things to ponder!

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:54 pm

      That sounds interesting! I’ll have to check out that book!

  6. April 14, 2016 / 10:27 am

    I love the way you’ve described each component of health, and they’re all so important.
    I definitely have a habit of pushing emotions away because “I don’t want to deal” and I’m working on making an effort to let myself feel my emotions and move forward.
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    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:55 pm

      It sucks, but it’s so important

  7. April 14, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    I love that you included spiritual health in here because I feel like it’s one facet that so many people ignore (because of the whole religion thing), when it really has so many benefits. So much focus is put on diet and exercise, when the emotional, mental, and spiritual realms are just as, if not MORE, important.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…eyeballs, ominous hallways, and cookbook Q&A (ToL#178)My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:56 pm

      Totally agree. Those other parts make up so much more of who I am as a person

  8. April 14, 2016 / 2:29 pm

    the therapist and holistic-health-believer in me loves everything about this post! i always emphasize this idea of attending to all aspects of your person (these 4) and use the phrase “working toward becoming the best version of you” ad nauseum (so much so that i’m toying with how to work that as a future tag line for my coaching business). so so so important to pay attn to all of these things, and it’s so easy to get caught up in emphasizing just the physical, for those of us especially who are fitness freaks or clean eating junkies. great post.

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 7:58 pm

      Totally agree. Thanks for reading shawna!!

  9. April 14, 2016 / 3:43 pm

    I second what Amanda said about spiritual health! I think it’s because people tend to generalize or associate it with religion. They’re definitely all linked and an imbalance in one can affect the others. Oddly enough, I found spirituality through eating healthy and exercising. It’s what opened the door to awareness and deep self discovery (and healing!)

    Now, my spiritual foundation is what I tend to the most. My relationship with ‘the universe’ and authentic self is what’s most important.
    Jo @ Living Mint Green recently posted…That’s A Wrap! Final Whole30 Thoughts + Before & After PhotosMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 8:02 pm

      That’s great Jo! Sounds like you’re right on track!

  10. April 14, 2016 / 5:49 pm

    I love what you said about spiritual health and how it relates to being the best version of yourself. I know that when I feel my best I’m focusing on how I can live my life in a way that makes me feel happy and proud of who I am, if that makes sense. Spiritual health is so important but so easy to overlook. Great post!
    Heather recently posted…Some Thoughts on a Thursday #15My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      It’s definitely the one that I go to last but I need to work on making it more important in my life!

  11. April 14, 2016 / 9:47 pm

    As an anxious worrier, my emotional health is the most challenging. I’m trying to let things go and relax rather than worry worry worry!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts–great post!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Favorite Gluten Free SwapsMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Thanks heather!

  12. April 15, 2016 / 4:00 pm

    I think people forget that health is not only physical. I think I need to do a better job minding my emotional health and growing in my spiritual health. Awesome post!
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    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 8:11 pm

      Totally. I always have to work on focusing on all of them!

  13. April 15, 2016 / 4:01 pm

    Love this! Health is such a broad concept, and I feel like all four areas are dependent on each other. For me, sleep, running, nutritious food, and quality family time are all essential, and if one slips, they all suffer.
    Emma {Emma’s Little Kitchen} recently posted…Chickpea Gyro BowlsMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 15, 2016 / 8:12 pm

      Totally agree. The scales can tip pretty easily if I’m not careful!

  14. April 15, 2016 / 11:59 pm

    Great post! You can’t only work at one of these. The circle needs to be at least a little balanced, which is sometimes hard to do! I’m glad therapy gave you the help, tools, and guidance you needed 🙂
    KJ | Omnomherbivore recently posted…Chai Almond ButterMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 19, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      It was really helpful! Yeah, sometimes the balance is the hardest part

  15. April 17, 2016 / 10:31 pm

    Love this post! I really love how you broke it down into the 4 key areas. I find that it can be hard to find a balance of maintaining health in all 4 areas at the same time. For me, the area that I’m lacking in most is my spiritual health because I convince myself I just don’t have time or there’s other things to focus on.
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    • erinsinsidejob
      April 19, 2016 / 2:23 pm

      I think that’s what a lot of us fall into, myself included. I have to really make an effort on that one

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