I’ve often taken health for granted, as I’m sure many of us have in the past. But as confirmed Covid cases and deaths rise, it’s something for which I’m grateful every day.
I used to have a very narrow view of health; that if I could eat 5 servings of veggies every day, or run a half-marathon in 1:50, or have an optimal percentage of body fat, or have the recommended heart rate or blood pressure, or sleep 7.5 hours, then I must be healthy. Utterly simplistic, and patently untrue.
Health is much more holistic, of course, and not something that can be delineated by mere numbers or objectives. It was more recently than I care to admit that I finally accepted that it didn’t matter if I could run a 7 minute mile if I was too exhausted to do anything after my run. And that if I was force-feeding myself mounds of spinach I was completely sapping the inherent pleasure from eating. And that I was raising my blood pressure by being too stressed about being healthy. And that worrying about getting enough sleep kept me up at night.
I’ve always been a numbers and charts kind of person, and I’m much more comfortable when there are tangible objectives and benchmarks. But “health” is a delicate collection of both the practical care of the physical self and a mindfulness about the larger picture, of being whole and happy in both your mind and skin.
Mindfulness practices are important, of course, as is a focus on mental health; in the past, this had been tricky for me as I approached these things separately from my physical self. Of course they are all interconnected, and accepting this and learning to work with it has been some of the most important work I’ve done.
The basic truths that now guide me:
Nutritious food helps sustain you. Pleasurable food also sustain you. There is always room for both.
Exercise should keep the body humming and vibrant. If it’s too exhausting, it’s not helpful. Movement every day makes me feel my best, so that’s what I do, but I listen closely to what my body tells me.
I generally operate my best when I get between 7-9 hours of sleep. I also know how to function for days on 4-5 hours, and know that I can occasionally sleep for 11, so I feel like I have all my contingencies covered, and thus don’t worry too much about it.
There are so many other subtleties, of course, but I’ve learned that if I can follow these three basic guidelines, I know I’ll be in a place, physically and mentally, to be able to deal with just about anything. And now that I find myself in a time where health is tantamount, I’m glad that I have a blueprint for my own well being, and I’m very mindful about each element, every day.
How do you support your own health? Do you have a specific system, or is it more spontaneous?
My task for the day: continues with a social media project centering around fashion. I’ve posted the completed form on IG stories, as well as on my Facebook page. I love finding ways of engaging with people and expressing myself creatively, so this has been a fun challenge. (done!)
4 thoughts on “Health”
“How do you support your own health? Do you have a specific system, or is it more spontaneous?”
Health is a complex issue but the basis remains quite easy to follow. I support my own health by eating less red meat, more fishes, sushis, free running poultries, veggies, fruits and much less deserts. My wife is Cambodian so I’m spoiled to eat good meals. A good glass of pinot noir or any wines (red, rosé or white) that I like is also part of my diet.
I like to walk with my wife and my pug or alone (helps to meditate and getting into an introspection) and do some easy hicking in the forest.
I support my mental health by trying to laugh, make fun with my colleagues, my friends and patients and have some good laugh. Reading (biopic comics, novel, serious books,…) and listening music (movie scores from Ennio Morricone, John Williams,…) is also part of my mental health. With the present covid you can download from the public libraries some e-books. It is probably the same thing in San Francisco.
Laughter is the best medicine, they say, and I can’t disagree!
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Sarah, your demeanor seems much more positive and I can feel it in your blog today. With me, my sleep patterns have been the same for years. I usually fall asleep early and then wake up around 1 or 2 am. This is my inspirational time, where I feel compelled to write blogs, poetry, search for beautiful nature photos, and research new musicians. I have such an extensive bevy of artists and genre to enjoy depending on my mood that day.
Like you, I enjoy engaging strangers in conversation and listening to their stories. A few months ago I was in a waiting room with a group of people for pre-admission testing at my local hospital. Everyone looked bored looking through periodicals to pass the time. I started chatting and before I knew it, everyone was telling their stories with ardor and enthusiasm. Time passed quickly and everyone seemed to enjoy the interaction. In the past at crowded parties, I made a habit to remember everyone’s first name and their interests and have befriended so many interesting personalities.
I’m convinced that those who are sincere, with an open mind without pre-judgment, can always find mutual grounds for a conversation with almost anyone anywhere. Happiness is not by chance but by choice. I’ve learned to share the joy…
How lovely to engage with people in the waiting room! It must have been much appreciated.