The definition of “healthy” varies for everyone. There is the vague dictionary meaning explained as being “in good health.” And then there are what people have molded into their interpretations of the adjective. Some think it pertains solely to a nutritious diet and exercise, while others harbor how many hours of work clocked in for the week or reality television consumed. Although all of these components constitute healthy living, there is a deeper meaning to the word that is often overlooked. Here’s what living a healthy lifestyle actually means, because it’s more than frequent sweat sessions and eating an abundance of fruits and veggies.
Being healthy means… taking the time to be selfish. Often, the most giving people embody the unhealthiest routines. They spend much of their downtime helping others in the form of doing favors or being a shoulder to lean on that they rarely give much attention to themselves. They neglect their well-being while caring for others, often leading to poor habits of their own. Take the time to be selfish and filter some of that energy on personal health goals, whatever that means for you.
Being healthy means… treating yourself. The concept of treating yourself does not have to be an outlandish gesture, nor does it have to include seaweed wraps and facials. The idea could simply be indulging in a cookie at night or sipping on a cup of tea while diving into a mystery novel. Anything that feels rewarding to you will help ease the stress and tension of the day. Not to mention, they are things you can look forward to.
Being healthy means… more mental health days. There are moments when we need a break from our every day regimens. The demands of our work, relationships, children, school work, and personal lives can easily make us feel drained in every sense of the word. Living our best lives involves being mindful of when our routines are dragging us down and giving ourselves the breaks we need. Taking mental health days allows us to check in with ourselves and keeps us from spiraling back towards those unhealthy habits.
Being healthy means… communicating with others. You may be tempted to shut out the world when you’re feeling anxious or stressed. But many times, it’s the connection with others that helps us move through these difficult emotions. Communication with others via phone calls, text messages, Facetimes, or in-person coffee dates can alleviate these symptoms and heightens your mood. Just being in the vicinity of others can lift your spirits, bringing out a more upbeat version of you.
Being healthy means… sharing time with your significant other and friends. By allowing work and other daily tasks to consume you, you miss out on opportunities to spend with your friends and significant others. Our mental health needs to maintain these interactions and foster relationships that are important to us. Nurture your friendships and romantic partnerships by making time for them outside of your crazy work schedule. Show them that they are a priority to you and are always at the forefront of your mind. Simple gestures like texting them “good morning” or delivering take-out to their door can go a long way.
Being healthy means… prioritizing rest. Rest should be your lead concern when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Without a good night’s rest, you are setting up the following day to be filled with yawning, tired eyes, an overabundance of coffee, and probably skipped workouts. Your entire next day is thrown out of whack when you deprive yourself of some good quality z’s, so don’t skimp out on this ever. Turn off your devices, zone in on a book, do some yoga—anything that will promote uninterrupted sleep for at least seven hours. So many good things can come with a good night’s rest.
Being healthy means… taking it easy on yourself. Let’s face it: There are days when it’s impossible to cross off every task on our to-do list. We find ourselves repeating the cliche phrase “there’s not enough time in the day” because we can’t seem to get it all done in the time we have allotted to do so. The truth may be that it isn’t the clock that’s against us, but that we expect ourselves to be superheroes. We assume that our superhuman powers will take over, giving us the speed, strength, and ability to perform an outrageous amount of chores in just a few hours. Be easy on yourself when you can’t accomplish everything that you planned. You are trying your best, and that is all that you should aim for.
Being healthy means… asking for help. Back to the “we view ourselves as superheroes” concept, because that applies to our hesitation to ask for help. We often believe that we can do everything on our own all the time, resisting assistance from others. However, that’s not the case, nor is it necessary. Our pride takes over, making us feel like we must take on the world with our own two hands, but we wind up running ourselves down. The healthiest people are those who know when to admit when it’s too much and seek help when needed. Your body and mind will appreciate the relief.
Being healthy means… to keep educating yourself. Read educational books, listen to controversial podcasts, watch interesting documentaries—consume things that continue to inspire and teach you every day. The learning doesn’t stop after graduation, but it’s an opportunity to hone in on what lights your fire. You can select the material that sparks a burn within you, that fills you with excitement and a passion to dive in deeper. By constantly immersing yourself in new and exciting subjects, you keep your brain active to lead a long, fulfilling life.
Being healthy means… silencing the noise. Our constant connections with our devices make it harder than ever to observe the world in the present moment. To be at peace with our thoughts and emotions, without outside influences taunting us every second of the day. Silence the chatter of social media by turning off notifications, or better yet, unplug for a while. Clear your mind of the background noise by minimizing your time on the web or just stepping back wholly. Delete apps, turn off your phone, go for a walk and be unavailable for an hour—whatever you have to do to disconnect from your virtual reality to reconnect to life happening right in front of you.
Being healthy means… getting out in nature. You may not have the luxury to explore the world with work and home life responsibilities, but getting out in nature is something everyone can do—no matter where you live. Being outdoors is essential for our well-being. From consuming the fresh air into your lungs to taking in the sounds of the trees whistling in the wind and birds chirping in the distance, the great outdoors is therapy for the mind, body, and soul. Perhaps you could try a walking meditation through a nearby park or hiking trail to give the mind and body the refresher they need.
Being healthy means… speaking to yourself with love and kindness. Remember, you are trying your best and are not expected to do anything more. How we talk to ourselves is pivotal to our mental health as it can add unwanted stress and anxiety when things don’t go our way. Speak to yourself like you would a friend or neighbor, without judgment or negative commentary. Incorporate love and kindness into your words instead of ridicule and disappointment. Only then can you genuinely embody a healthy lifestyle.