As a counsellor I often ask people I work with what their main priorities are in life and what they would like to focus on. Health is rarely top of the list, if it’s even on there at all.
I often find myself reminding clients that their health is their number one asset. It is the foundation upon which you build your life. Without your health it may be very difficult to do all the things you want to do and to enjoy life to the fullest.
Looking after ourselves inside and out is a fundamental part of living a happy, fulfilled life. So, why are so many of us neglecting our own wellbeing?
I know that those of us who are lucky enough to enjoy good health and freedom from illness or symptoms often neglect our health. I also know that for those who have been diagnosed with conditions and / or suffer from symptoms, it can be that much harder to take control, find motivation and really commit to a plan for promoting health.
There are many factors that contribute to good health and they all interact with each other in different ways. It’s important to create a holistic and realistic plan that suits your needs and lifestyle. Regardless of your current circumstances, there are things that you can do every day to improve your health, build a strong foundation and be the most well you can be. The most important thing is to discover what is stopping you from investing in your health. This is often a deep-rooted feeling of not being worthy or good enough. Working through these limiting beliefs can help create an attitude of worthiness, so that you can start to treat yourself with utmost respect and care.
Some of the main elements for promoting good health are:
- Diet. Make sure that you are eating a balanced diet that is right for you. This can include specific supplements to help with particular issues. It can involve calorie control if you are trying to lose weight for health reasons. For most of us it should include eating lots of fresh, non-processed food. If you are choosing to avoid any food group for ethical or allergy reasons, you need to make sure that you educate yourself on how to get all the nutrients you need. Another main element of a healthy diet is to develop a healthy relationship with food. Too many people have learned bad habits of calorie control, yo-yo dieting, avoiding “forbidden” foods or overeating. These behaviours are usually driven by emotional issues and can only be resolved through addressing the root cause. If you find yourself unable to stick to your decision to eat healthily eating despite wanting to, consider talking to someone and try to resolve unconscious emotional eating habits.
- Movement. As the word exercise can be off-putting to some, the NHS are increasingly using the word “movement” instead. The idea is obviously to promote healthy movement. What that means is going to be different for everyone, depending on physical ability, personal preference, lifestyle, time commitments etc. The main thing is finding a way of moving that is safe and enjoyable for you. This can take a little trial and error and it can be worth talking to a coach or trainer to help you create a program that is right for you. You should also always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
- Relaxation. Modern science and medicine are finding new evidence every day that shows the harmful effects of stress on our bodies and minds. There are many ways to relax and do something for you. The trouble is to fit it in to your day and make it a priority. Whether you would like to try mindfulness, fit in time for reading with a cuppa, enjoy a leisurely stroll in nature or take up a new hobby, the main thing is to make it a priority, commit to your decision, make a plan and stick to it.
- Sleep. Too many of us neglect our sleep. There are many things you can put in place to improve the quality of your sleep and many people are surprised to find what unexpected benefits this has to their health. The bottom line is that humans need sleep and while we can get away with neglecting it for short periods, long-term sleep deprivation has serious effects on our physical as well as mental health. Going to bed and waking at similar times every day and creating a relaxing ritual for winding down before bed are some of the things that can help improve your sleep.
- Connection. An often overlooked area for promoting health is the quality of our connection to ourselves as well as others. As humans we are social creatures and research shows that people who have good quality relationships live longer and enjoy better health. There are many reasons why our relationships can be strained and loneliness is a problem affecting 9 million adults in the UK, according to the campaign to end loneliness. Talking to someone about your feelings and finding ways to be more authentic with yourselves and others can help improve your relationships and reduce loneliness.
If you would like to talk about what’s getting in the way of you prioritising yourself and your health, contact me for a free consultation.