What is a Healthy Living Life?
For years, we have heard that living a healthy and balanced existence can lead to a longer, more fulfilling and robust life. But in analyzing much of that mantra we are often left not really learning what is a healthy life or how to live it. And what is this “balance” stuff anyway? Does anyone really have mental wellness in our fast paced worlds? How do we even start exercising and is 10 minutes once a week enough?
It all starts with a recognition of what a healthy living lifestyle really encompasses. As expected, there is an assortment of definitions, thoughts, concepts available in online and book form resources. Upon perusing several websites, the healthy living lifestyle incorporates a few consistitent concepts. The good news these concepts are common sense in nature and thus fairly basic to understand. The challenge in living the healthy lifestyle can be in knowing how to implement these common sense, basic concepts.
So, what are these basic notions of healthy living?
Keeping it simple, the concepts all fall along these lines:
- Mental Wellness: This is the cornerstone of living the Healthy Lifestyle. We need to start with a positive state of mind because without it, the rest of healthy lifestyle efforts are a futile effort that will have limited success.
- Eat Clean: There is no getting around it, we are what we eat. Many studies abound that eating a clean diet is one of the best ways to keep our weight in check and obtain the energy and nutrients we need. A clean diet consists of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and diary, and limited amounts of grains. Reduce or eliminate if possible processed foods, especially sugar products.
- Exericse: It is no secret that exercise is beneficial for physical and mental well-being. Moving our bodies is the way we burn those calories and ask our heart, muscles and mind to become stronger. By strengthening our bodies, we are better able to enjoy life and remain free of ailments.
- Sleep Well: In our “on the go” worlds, it is often sleep that gets compromised. Late at night, it is easy to push ourselves to get “one more thing” done; however, this can be detrimental to our health as lack of sleep can cause us to make poor decisions and cause us to perform poorly in our day to day life. With adequate sleep, we have the ability to think clearly and we are able to give our best in everything we do.
- Reduce Stress: This may be the hardest concept of all. Life these days are full of commitments, activities, opportunities, and pulls from various walks of life. It is easy for us to become overloaded and begin to live a stressed out existence. This drains us of energy, patience, time, and in the long haul, our physical state declines since our bodies do not have time to repair themselves since they are always on the go and “keyed” up.
- Other Factors: The above ideas are the basics, but a few other concepts factor into living a healthy lifestyle. These include developing a connection on a spiritual/religious level, begin giving to others, find love in those around you, and getting health screenings/wellness checkup with a doctor. To live the healthy lifestyle, we have to combine those factors and make adjustments in our daily living. But just how do we do that? How do we change our way of thinking and change the way we go about our daily lives? It can seem overwhelming to make the changes needed to begin living in a healthy state but it all starts with realizing that the life we are living is not working for us. To make this realization, the first step to analyze your life in a calm state and be truthful with yourself. The point is this: we have to look at our mental wellness and make decisions to change our way of thinking. It starts between the ears. Now that we have an idea of what a healthy living lifestyle looks like, let’s go over each of the healthy lifestyle concepts listed. Diving right into Mental Wellness, we can take a look at what encompasses a healthy mindset and to make the shift from our current state of thinking to one that allows us to make the other concepts happen.
We might believe that mental wellness is having a life that is absent of depression, anxiety, internal turmoil, and stress. If it only life were that simple. But actually mental wellness really refers to having a broad approach to combining our mind and body in a manner in which we are generally happy and content with our lives. We are able to realize our good fortunes and know that we are blessed in various ways.
Mental Wellness also encompasses understanding that life can be challenging at times. None of us are immune to those challenges. It is how we handle those challenges that determine how our mental wellness is affected. If we take those challenges and become stressed, depressed or have a significant increases in anxiety then our mental wellness state declines. We may become physically ill, less able to function in our daily lives and are prone to becoming irritable and irrational. On the other hand, if we take a deep breath and tackle those challenges one step at a time and analyze the situation from a calm and logical standpoint, our mental wellness will remain at a healthy state. We avoid those negative side effects and we move through the challenges and get on with our happy and content life.
So, other than taking a deep breath, what can we do to keep that mental wellness at a healthy level? Primarily, if we follow some of these concepts, we are well on our way to keeping the mind and body in sync:
1. Train your mind to think in a positive manner. When negative thoughts lodge themselves in our heads, our mental wellness declines. How do we stop those negative thoughts? It is a long term practice, but when those negative plugs wander into our heads, recognize it and then force yourself to replace it with something positive. Here is an example: “my life sucks; it is always a wreck” is the negative thought. To turn this into a positive thought, we would have to take that deep breath and force ourselves to think along these lines: ” sometimes life is tough, but I have a place to live, a job, a loving family, a great dog, etc” The point is think positively and at the same time as in this example, we are grateful for the good in our life.
2. Learn to deal with those life challenges. As mentioned, we all face them and thus we have to accept that at some point, our lives will have bumpy times. That is a key component to dealing with the challenges, realizing that they will happen! When they do crop up, take that deep breath and than look at the situation from a logical and calm perspective. It takes some mental work to do this but it is a great first step. And also realize that getting stressed, depressed, and having illogical thoughts only leads to a decline in mental wellness and thus we are less able to handle the task at hand.
If help is needed in dealing with those life challenges, there are numerous resources available. From online articles/websites/blogs to books to guidance counselors, it is a matter of some research and then reaching out to the resource most likely to help.
3. Realize humans are not perfect. This realization has two sides to the coin. First, many of us have a difficult time accepting ourselves as we really are. We struggle with looks, self-induced pressures to do be perfect, and challenges with knowing we are going to make mistakes as we move through life. The result of not accepting ourselves for less than perfect is depression, self-doubt, internal angst, and a feeling of not loving ourselves. How do we accept that we are not perfect? Not easily done, but when we do make mistakes or our judgment is less than what is desired, we have to recognize that the mistake or lack of judgment was not intentional. It is also helpful to accept that mistakes or moments where judgment is poor is a normal aspect of life. There is no getting around it. Lastly, knowing we are not alone in this if helpful. Nobody is perfect and we all will falter at times. It is how we handle those falters that manages our mental wellness.
The second side of the not perfect coin is to realize that those in our lives are not perfect either. Often times when someone close to us makes a mistake or has a judgement lapse, we get angry at that person. This usually solves nothing and most likely makes the sitution worse. Digging in deep, we need to accept that the other person is human also and will make the same pile of mistakes as ourselves. Also, it is helpful to have compassion for the other person and try to realize or understand how or why the mistake was made.
Improving mental wellness takes a concerted effort and it is not an easy endeavour, but with determination and patience, it can happen. The journey along this path to better thinking will be well worth the travel and will pave the way for the remaining aspects of living a healthy lifestyle.
In our next post, let’s wander into the physical fitness portion of living the healthy lifestyle. Being active brings many benefits and makes our bodies stronger and better able to take us through our day.