Many of us are focused on being healthy, but that can mean entirely different things to different people. To be truly healthy, though, you need to take care of your whole self - mind, body, and soul.
There are five main areas of health to consider: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual. If any one of them is out of balance, your overall health can suffer.
Physical health is where most people focus their attention, but that focus is often misdirected. By mistaking weight for health, for example, people can go to extremes trying to push their body into a shape it is simply unable to attain.
For the best physical health, focus on:
- Exercise: Even a 30-minute walk every day can do wonders
- Eating: Eat well-balanced meals (learn how to build them here) and don’t skip meals
- Sleep: The National Sleep Foundation says that we need 7-9 hours of sleep every night
Being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean not feeling negative emotions, it means dealing with them in a healthy way. Psychology Today says that emotionally healthy people:
- Gain control after a failure
- Find meaning in loss or trauma by also appreciating what they had
- Distract themselves rather than brooding
- Nurture their self-esteem. Rather than put themselves down, they show self-compassion
- Revive their self-worth after rejection
- Combat loneliness putting themselves out there rather than retreating
- Get involved with clubs or organizations
- Identify your best friends
- Recognize unhealthy relationships
- Balance your social life with other responsibilities
- Have meals with others when possible
- Develop a hobby
- Offer to help friends and neighbors
To some, spirituality means faith or religion while, to others, it’s simply a sense of the “self” or “soul” beyond the physical. The University of Kansas suggests these ways to improve spiritual health:
- Explore your spiritual core by asking: Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I value most?
- Look for deeper meanings
- Release your feelings by writing or speaking them
- Travel somewhere comforting or somewhere new to help connect to yourself
- Re-frame negatives in a positive way
- Meditate or pray every day
To be intellectually healthy is to encourage creative and stimulating mental activities. The University of Illinois suggests an eight-step approach to increase intellectual wellness.
- Read for fun: Don’t just read what you have to for work or school. Read something just for yourself.
- Debate: Debate a topic with a friend, but choose the opposite viewpoint to the one you hold. This helps you open your mind and grasp new information.
- Improve your learning skills: Learn about how your mind processes information. This can be invaluable in helping you to succeed.
- Learn a foreign language: This will help your communication skills even in your native language and will help you gain depth to knowledge you already have.
- Play a game: A card or board game is fun, but they also make you think.
- Play a musical instrument: This can help us learn about sound, but also about patterns and expressing emotions.
- Write your thoughts: Journaling can help you make sense of what you’re feeling. Once you’ve identified what you’re feeling, you can better understand yourself and your actions.
- Do crossword or sudoku puzzles: Working through these types of puzzles and finding patterns has been proven to promote intellectual wellness.
Reach out to a professional if you need help with any of these aspects of health.
Health is so much more than just following a fad diet or starting an exercise regimen, and small changes can reap big rewards. Your road to health can start today.