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!)