‘Your health is your wealth’! Up until a few years ago, I thought of health in very simplistic terms and ‘well-being’ wasn’t even on my radar. Then a couple of different life events occurred so improving and sustaining my general health and well-being became one of my life’s ambitions. I didn’t want to take having good health for granted. I could appreciate how the consequences of not having ‘it’ could be problematic to my overall well-being too. While in my last job, I had the privilege of developing a programme specifically for young people, though hugely transferable to most audiences, called Be Healthy, Be Happy! What I learnt while exploring physical, mental, social and spiritual health components has shaped the way I think about health and well-being. Two inter-related concepts that are unique to each and every one of us. Now I believe they go together like strawberries and cream, movies and popcorn or sunshine and the great outdoors!
Stephen Covey in his worldwide bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” refers to enhancing these dimensions of health as ‘sharpening the saw’, the seventh habit and most important in terms of equipping you to activate the other six. I like this analogy. How can you live a fulfilling life if you are not in tip top condition? Some of us might be ‘functioning’ well, at least on the surface level, in work, at home dealing with family priorities or indeed more broadly participating in local community life – but are we as effective and content as we would like to be.
So to ‘sharpen the saw’, are you resourcing your body with the proper fuel? Nurturing it, respecting its limitations, supporting growth and repair? Are you building healthy relationships and communicating effectively? Are you flexible and able to adapt to change when necessary? How responsive are you to other people’s feelings? Do you make good decisions? How do you organise your time, develop plans and achieve goals? Do you find time for yourself – to do what you enjoy and to relax….. It’s a big ask right? However, I believe small changes can start to make a big difference.
In terms of your physical health, what changes can you make? Introducing breakfast first thing in the morning to kick start your metabolism? Go to the gym or exercise class at lunchtime or in the evening to clear your head, manage stress and increase energy levels? Get enough sleep for you to feel energized when you wake up in the morning (recommended adults get on average 7-9 hours). Create healthy sleep routines e.g. take a break from technology before bed, de-clutter your bedroom and try not eat too heavy a meal directly before lights out. Looking after your person hygiene will also help you feel good about yourself.
When you have a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep and some regular exercise, you will notice positive changes in your mood. Your mental health will thank you as your balanced blood sugars help you avoid the 3pm slump. Feeling low in energy and sleepy can make people feel de-motivated, unable to complete tasks, master new challenges or be effective at problem-solving. Doing what you like and enjoy, both in work and in life in general, will improve your mental health. What are your top three qualities? What gifts and talents do you have and are you using them to make you feel happy or fulfilled? What are your hopes and aspirations – do you allow yourself to dream and dream BIG? What an amazing feeling it is to share your gifts with others, make people smile and feel proud of your achievements – all of which are unique to you! When you connect with these aspects of yourself you learn to trust yourself to be able to deal with difficulties that may arise in the future. Knowing signs and symptoms of different mental health problems as well as support services available can help you or help a friend in need too. You are building your resilience, believing you will be able to bounce back from life difficulties!
When you are able to recognise what is good in your life you feel good – more content – which really helps develop your social health. Building positive relationships with others is largely dependent on how we feel about ourselves. When we feel good, especially about whom we are and what we do in life, we experience healthy relationships. We like having fun with other people. We enjoy socializing, meeting new people, participating in different activities. What is your communication style? Does it impact on your relationships? Are you able to share your inner most thoughts and feelings with others? What qualities are important in your friendships? Do you nurture these characteristics in yourself? Do you trust others and demonstrate patience or forgiveness regularly? Is there a friend you would love to meet up with – give them a call? Can you spend some quality time with your family this weekend – watching a movie, going for a walk, cooking a family meal? Would you like to get involved with a charity – maybe volunteering your knowledge or skills would be an option too? Remember the more we give the more we get back too.
Feeling connected to your purpose and personal potential as well as truly connected with others in your life is an important element of people’s spiritual health and well-being. Do you feel like you are one small part of a big universe? Is showing love, kindness and compassion to yourself and others important to you? Do you try to show respect to others and express gratitude when other people do you a favour or help you out? Do you ever stop to appreciate the beauty of nature – blue skies at lunch time on your way to the shop, spring flowers popping up in the park, the smell of the trees after the rain, the sound of the waves lapping on the shoreline? It is a challenge to us all to spend more time in nature as our lives get busier, but why not? It is wonderful and FREE! What do you do to relax – breathing exercises or mindfulness, read, go for a walk, enjoy a hot bath? Do you like to develop your spirituality through music or art forms? Notice how you feel when you do this? This is being with your soul.
So what can you do to Be Healthy and Be Happy? Take a chance. Make a small change. Then notice what happens.
If you are interested in coaching to enhance your health and well-being or to improve your relationships or confidence, to manage stress or access your full potential contact me NOW!