It’s nothing new to know that health is important. No one wants to be unhealthy, but we sometimes make really bad choices for ourselves. We don’t exercise. We drink too much. We eat foods that cause our hearts to fail. All of these examples are just physical things that we do to our bodies on a regular basis. But what does being healthy really mean? As a life coach and personal trainer, health is so much more than numbers on the scale, what you eat, or how your pants fit you on any given day. Health really refers to several categories that revolve around your daily activities: relationships, fun/leisure time, career, personal growth, finances, fitness and nutrition, and environment. Each of these categories are very important and need some balance in order for you to maximize your health. So what do all of these categories entail?
1. Relationships are just what they sound like. However, this doesn’t just include your relationship with your significant other or your children. We must build positive relationships with everyone in our lives such as family, friends, and co-workers. If we’ve done something wrong, it’s time to swallow the pride and apologize and try to put the relationship back to where it was before. If someone you trusted has done something to you, it’s time to evaluate why it happened and how to move past it. Are there any toxic relationships that need to be looked at? In other words, do you have family, friends, or co-workers that suck the life energy out of you? It’s time to limit your contact with these people for your own safety. For the relationships that you do have, make it a point to make each relationship stronger. It could be a simple as a phone call, letter, or text message. Maybe a dinner once a month. A few more hugs with your children and a little hand holding with your spouse. It could also be harder than this. Maybe it’s time to admit you were wrong. Maybe it’s time to see a marriage counselor. Either way, you have to communicate in order for the relationship to grow and/or change.
2. Fun/leisure time is giving yourself the time to do something you love. You might be the busy parent running your kids all over for soccer practice, dance, and music. This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to cheat yourself out of your own time. Picture yourself in a plane listening to the steward going through the directions should the plane go down during flight. When your breathing mask falls down, you put it on yourself first, then the person next to you. You can’t help someone else unless you help yourself first. It’s time to help yourself first. This doesn’t mean that you have to devote hours of time to leisure and forget the kids’ activities. It does mean that you can’t deny your own activities. You can find an hour a week to read that book or sit and have coffee with a friend. You carve hours of time out for other people. What’s one more person to carve another hour out for?
3. Career doesn’t just have to include a job that you work in an office. This is basically your life’s purpose. This might take place in a cubicle, or it might take place at home with two kids to care for. It might take place as a volunteer in a shelter, or it might take place on a little league field. It’s what you were meant to do. There are plenty of jobs in the world which means that you can actually work the job of your dreams. If you are unhappy with your job and you are staying there because of the money, there are better jobs out there that also pay. You have to be willing to put the footwork into finding them. If you are unhappy and unwilling to leave, then you need to wake up and figure out how to make the best out of your situation or you will be miserable forever. How? Be the best at what you are doing. Find some sort of satisfaction in knowing that while the job itself might not be your calling, being the best at it is your calling.
4. Personal growth can be learning new things to keep your mind expanding, but it can also include spiritual growth, as well. Our minds last longer when we challenge them. Neuro-pathways are created when we keep our brains working. It’s especially important to keep your mind active if you have a job that is repetitive. Make the commitment to learn something new every month or go to church once a week. I have devoted my time to reading one book each month that is non-fiction relating to my personal growth. The latest book I read was The Power of Habit which was an amazing book, by the way.
5. Finances are a huge part of your life. Sadly, money does make the world go ’round. We can’t survive without it. It is the reason that people get married and divorced. It’s the reason that spouses yell at each other. It is the reason that people feel anxiety and stress. But this all occurs when it’s not properly aligned with our values. How do you spend your money? Do you actually spend it in a way that reflects your values? Many of us nickel and dime our bank accounts because we go out to eat too much. But is going out to eat something we value enough to spend so much money on? Someone might argue that lunch is how you spend time with your friends. Really? You can’t spend time with your friends having a cheaper coffee or even lunch at your own home? There are cheaper alternatives to what you want to do. Instead of going out to the movies, my family rents from Redbox. We live outside of Seattle, so it’s very common to see Starbucks or Tully’s coffee cups in hand. We make our own coffee.
6. Fitness and nutrition are going to give you the energy you need to attain all of the other areas in your life. When you don’t get enough exercise and eat the right foods, you lack the energy to do anything else. It’s why the television looks so enticing after work. And that bad food you’re eating is an escape. It might be an escape from taking the time to create a healthier meal or the stress that you have from the job that you hate. Failing to eat properly and give your body the exercise it needs sets you up to be tired every day. Some of you may even feel worse after eating unhealthy choices. If you are someone who doesn’t exercise or eat right, this change will be very hard in the beginning. We’re programmed to take the path of least resistance. At first, sitting on the couch feels relaxing. But then the stress is still there, so the bad foods come into the picture to try to ease some of that stress. You have to break the cycle. The exercise hast to be done. It doesn’t have to come in the form of a sweat fest. Go for a walk. Studies show that exercise helps clear our minds and helps our bodies relax. Many people even have a-ha moments while exercising. Studies also show that exercising helps us make better choices when it comes to food. Instead of sitting on the couch, go put on some sweat pants. Go to your door and just take a walk around your neighborhood. See how you feel when you come back.
7. Your environment is everything around you: your home, your yard, your car, your work space. All of these places are areas that you see on a daily basis. When they are out of control, you feel out of control. These are places you need to be proud of so that you can stress less about them. Two simple things to remember: appreciate what you have and take pride in what you have. Your house is small? So what? Make it the cutest little house. Your car is old? Does this mean that it has to be dirty and poorly maintained? Take pride in the fact that you have an old car and it runs well because you took care of it. And you can look at the person next to you at the stop light driving the Envoy and know that you aren’t making the payments that they are. The space around you has a direct line into your head. When all of these places look chaotic and out of control, there is a good chance that you are feeling that way, as well. Control what you can. You might not be able to control the boss passing you over for a promotion, but you can control how your cubicle looks. You might not be able to control the amount of money you make at your job, but you can appreciate that you have a place to live that your job helps pay for. You can even think about it this way. You have a job and place to live. This is something that some people can’t even say.
These seven areas of your life help keep you balanced. When one or many of them are out of whack, it’s important to take a look at which ones need work and find an action plan to begin to find that balance. Some of them might be just fine, but the goal is to have all of them aligned with your goals and priorities.
Which areas feel unbalanced to you? How do you think you might work to begin balancing these areas?