When we talk about health, more often than not our minds go to a focus on exercise and nutrition.The culture we live in plays a big role in this, promoting diets and workout plans in the quest to 'be healthy'. In this post today we're going to explore ways we can expand our view of health and tips to care for ourselves.
When you hear the word health, what comes to mind? Is it a certain body size? Is it a certain number of workouts performed in a week or a type of food consumed or limited? When most people begin a journey towards health, these are the things they focus on. Rightly so, our culture puts a heavy focus on all of these and it takes deep work and curiosity to begin to expand our view beyond the black and white ideas.
In my work I always enjoy unpacking the concept of health and what it means to each individual. After all, health is not a one size fits all concept. It;s nuanced and has different meanings for different people. So let's look at what you may be missing when it comes to health.
Basic Needs: These are the things that aren't as shiny and "instagram worthy". This might look like taking medication, going to the doctor for regular check ups and appointments, brushing your teeth, eating regularly throughout the day, going to bed on time and personal hygiene.
Relationship with Food: How is your relationship with food? Do you find yourself yourself stressing around the thought of food? Do you feel out of control around food ever? How about a list of food rules you've picked up from different health gurus and diets of what food is allowed and what food is off limits? Often, we spend so much energy focusing on nutrients of food we overlook our relationship with food itself. Research shows those that practice Intuitive Eating experience increased well-being, lower risk of eating disorders, have better introspective awareness and psychological hardiness, not to mention improved bio marks such as blood sugar and cholesterol (The Intuitive Eating workbook). To dive deeper into IE you can read my blog post here
Joyful Movement: Forget the pressure around doing workouts that you hate. Instead think back to when you were a kid. Was there movement that was fun? Maybe a sport? Riding a bike? Swimming, dancing or playing tag? Our relationship with movement should be enjoyable. Begin exploring things you enjoy to do. Sometimes this means giving yourself permission to take a complete break from exercise so you can truly tune in to what sounds enjoyable. Movement should never be forced, painful or miserable. Find things that feel nurturing for your body.
Emotional Health: All of the things above are aspects of your emotional health but let's not forget some others as well. This could look like beginning therapy, resting, journaling, setting boundaries, time spent with others, limiting social media or exploring personal values.
We often overlook these pieces of our health and well-being even though they can be the most important.
Grab a journal or notebook and brain dump all the things that come to mind when you think about your health. Work on expanding your view of just the labels "food and exercise" and instead apply curiosity to explore what it truly means to you to be healthy. I'll leave an example for you below. Take some time to go in depth with this. If one of your areas of health is "getting basic needs met" be specific. What are those basic needs?
Always rooting for you in your journey of well-being,
Hanna Kuyper, M.A, CIEC. is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT 109748) under the employment and supervision of DaLene Forester, PhD, LMFT, LPCC MFC 33095, LPC 629. ) Hanna see’s clients out of her private practice in Redding, CA. Hanna is also a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.