Health is a relationship between you and your body.
Today, the focus on health and wellness is everywhere. There is no loss of trends in diets. The Keto Diet, Paleo diet, Alkaline diet, Whole 30, Intermittent diet, Carb Cycling, and more. How the heck are you to comprehend which program is best for you?
Women’s Health Magazine lists 20 the top fitness trends that include everything from Yoga, to Functional Fitness Training, and Postrehabilitation Classes. Whew….that’s a lot. If you are confused, I am not surprised.
I am asking you to set all of the above aside and instead to think about the many components of your daily life. It is your routine and habits, which you do not consider that gives you a zing for life or provide a framework for health issues and a decline in your quality of life.
Contemplate the following:
If you work outside of the home, how is your commute to work? Do you drive or use public transportation? If you use public transportation, is it safe? Are the wait areas enclosed and well lit? Are you exposed to second-hand smoke or other unhealthy carcinogens? Are the crosswalks safe or dangerous?
Do you drive a car to work? Do you carpool? How long is your commute? Is your drive one hour or longer? If so, take a moment and calculate the total amount of hours spent commuting per day, per week, per month, and annually.
Think about the commute. Is it an easy-breezy ride or does your ride consist of high-volume traffic, horns, middle fingers, f-bombs, and weaving in and out of traffic? How do you feel when you arrive at work and home? Over an extended period of time, this type of commute can negate the quality of your life. Yes, I know. The job may pay well. But ask yourself, what is the trade-off?
Where is your company located? How many hours per week do you work? Is the number greater than 50? Been there done that, rolling my eyes. Does your day include a lunch break? Where do you take your break? Can you walk on your break? Does your company provide ergonomically designed chairs and workstations? Is your workstation quiet or loud?
How is the air quality? Is the building well ventilated and are the filters cleaned regularly to prevent dust mold, and other pollutants? What types of relationships do you have with your colleagues? Does your company promote healthy living?
Are you required to lift heavy objects? According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), back injuries account for nearly 20% of all injuries and illnesses in the workplace and cost the nation an estimated 20 to 50 billion dollars per year. If so, does your company provide or encourage the use of safety belts?
Do you drive a vehicle for a living? If so, how many hours do you spend on the road daily? The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits the number of hours a driver can drive. The restrictions protect everyone on the road. Driving sleepy or fatigued is estimated to cause up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year (CDC).
Is your job stressful? My point is that a stressful lifestyle may lead to unhealthy behaviors and adversely impact your overall health. Inadequate coping skills and a lack of leisure time may lead to excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and/or drug usage.
Do you have health insurance? Is it affordable? What does it include? Can you afford it and do you seek annual doctor visits for the dentist, Obgyn (females), mammograms, colonoscopy (over age 40), and general practitioners? Does your insurance include coverage for mental health counseling? What is your attitude and what are your beliefs regarding you and your family’s health?
Does your neighborhood provide sidewalks, clean and safe parks, playgrounds, lighted streets, and bike paths? What are your grocery stores like? Do they sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables?
- The United States disproportionately spends less on social services and on health care.
- Despite healthcare expenditures are projected to exceed 3 trillion dollars, health outcomes in the United States continue to fall behind other developed countries.
- The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that long-term stress can harm your health. For more information, click here.
Emotional Hygiene (EH)
Most of us have childhood memories of injuries from trips and falls. While playing outside, we scraped a knee, suffered a broken arm, or cut a finger. We cried a bit, moved on, and allowed our wounds to heal. Somehow as adults, we unlearned the art of healing. The consequence is baggage that we carry with us everyplace. The baggage is stuffed with fear, resentment, anger, hostility, guilt, and more.
The truth is we never learned how to care for our minds. We do nothing until we have mental breakdowns and even then, the antidote is a prescription for medication. Barring severe psychological issues, the script is a pretty band-aid that covers the wound. The fact is, we need to probe deeper; we need to treat the mental infection. When this occurs, seeking professional help is a good starting point. Want to learn more? Listen to this TED Talk by Psychologist Dr. Guy Winch.
I have posted many questions because I want to help you to expand your thinking regarding what a healthy lifestyle means to you. You can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercise but other factors in your life may contribute to your health. The determinants in your environment will impact your well-being.
So now what?
Is there something you want to change? I hope that after reading this post, you’ve identified at least one area of your life to improve. If everything is hunky-dory, congrats! Still, save this post, because life is filled with peaks and valleys.
What can you do?
- Assess your current situation.
- Make a list and prioritize what is most important to you.
- Think baby steps.
- Schedule the doctor’s appointment that you’ve been putting off
- If the change is a new job, assess your skills. If you know what you want to do but lack the skills, determine where you can acquire additional knowledge. In addition to your local college, most colleges offer online courses. What are the costs and does your company offer tuition reimbursement? Explore if you can acquire new skills by volunteering.
- What are your current untapped skills and resources? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Maybe you’re not sure about your next career move but you are ready for a change. MyNextMove.org is a great site to learn about careers. You can also take an assessment to help you to decide what field may be right for you.
- If it’s a lifestyle change, what are the specifics? Do you seek a relationship change, location change, or something else?
- Schedule an appointment with a therapist so you can work through your struggles.
My point here is to expand your thinking. First to include yourself but then to add your family to the mix. Our children observe us and learn from everything we do, just as we did from our parents.
I urge you to broaden your concept and understanding of health and wellness and take steps to improve your life.
Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy, and spirit you possess or takes away from it.