Physical and mental health are not separate things. Emotions and thoughts are physiological experiences, as much as any body process.
The way we eat, move our bodies, use our minds, and experience the world are all parts of overall health.
This means you can’t treat your body like crap and expect to have mental health. You also can’t eat super healthy but have deeply negative thoughts about yourself and expect to be healthy. Everything you do and think impacts your health.
What does it really feel like to be well? I get the sense that most people don’t even know to aspire to this because they don’t know how good they can actually feel.
I’m startled at the number of seemingly well people who tell me things such as, “My stomach hurts all the time” or “I wake up a lot at night” or “I’m always in some level of pain.” I hear a lot about being “on edge” or “in my head all the time.” These are all signs that things could be better.
It is part of the human experience to get sick and have periods of turmoil. But if we are living a life with basic comforts, our norm should be to feel well. I think, at least. Why not?
For what it’s worth, these are my indicators of health:
- Pain free stomach
- Sustained energy and focus throughout the day
- Ease in the entire body
- Easy to fall and stay asleep
- No obsessing or perseverating thoughts
- Quick to laugh and smile
- Feeling generally upbeat
- Easy to move through minor sadness or frustration
- Wake up alert
- Present and engaged with others
- Tolerate minor discomforts and annoyances
- A desire to move the body
- Enjoy pleasant activities
- Have things to look forward to
- No cravings
- Feel openness and warmth in the heart/chest
- Relaxation is easy
- Have a good appetite at meal time
- Don’t make assumptions about others’ intentions
- Easily give others the benefit of the doubt
- Give others space to be who they are
- Not taking things personally
I’m not able to have all of these things everyday, but I try for most things most days..because, why not? What’s more important than feeling good and being able to really show up for your life? To me it’s of the highest priority. It makes me a better, happier, more productive person.
People think it’s impossible, but it’s not. If you aren’t struggling just for your survival, there are always things you can do to improve your health.
It takes awareness, energy, and attention. Being well has to be a priority over, for example: being perfect, pleasing everyone, being the best at everything, gossiping about others, spending time on Facebook, worrying about things that have not yet happened and probably never will.
Yeah, something has to give- but I’m guessing most people can find a lot of energy they waste that maybe could go towards wellness. Just saying.
A commitment to wellness means focusing on food, sleep, exercise, emotions, and relationships.
You can’t feel well if you don’t put energy into these things. The money you make, the stuff you buy, all the achievements in the word will never yield wellness.
Also, you can’t do the same thing and expect improvement. People tell me they eat healthy, but their stomach hurts. It doesn’t matter if your food seems healthy, if it doesn’t work for you.
If doctors have told you there is nothing wrong with you, they have run all the tests, but you are feeling well, don’t quit. I encourage people to dig deep. Become the expert on your own body. Try new things, as long as they are safe. It’s free to experiment with your diet or work on managing your stress. There are many wise experts out there- see what information you can find that makes sense, is safe, and has science on it’s side. Be open-minded to new ideas but critical in your thinking about whether it’s right for you.
We are in an uphill battle because health is not truly valued in our society. Too many people are passive and expect to disrespect and disregard their bodies and have doctors undo the results. It’s not a reasonable system. No wonder “health care” (sick care, really) costs so much.
Being committed to one’s health is actually against the grain. We are not a healthy people. I’d like that to change.
It is a process, a lifelong journey. But why not continue to work on health? What’s a more worthy project? I guess it challenges another cultural deficit: our lack of patience.
I hope more people will take up this project- because it’s good for individuals, but it’s actually good for us collectively. Happy, healthy people make for a happy, healthy society. I think we can all see how much we need that.
Do you work on your whole body health? What are your measures of wellness?