I hope last week’s discussion about values helped to provide a solid foundation from which to build your approach to health. If you missed that post, finish reading this one first so you know what’s coming, then go back to read all about values and complete this worksheet to help you determine yours! Today is about putting the thought work from last week into action by reframing health through the lens of self-care.
(A quick note about action. It’s really freaking important. You can read all the blog posts in the world and download every free worksheet known to man. But if you don’t actually implement the information you read and write, you’re never going to create massive change in your life. Just sayin’.)
To broaden the conversation around what health includes, we’ve defined the NF Pillars of Wellness:
Purpose & values: Your purpose and values define the person you want to be and the life you want to lead. When you are clear here, your thoughts and actions follow suit naturally.
Community: Your family, friends, coworkers, and community at large (online and in person) are an incredibly important part of your life. When you’re devising a made-for-you health strategy, it’s important to think about how these people fit into the big picture.
Nutrition & hydration: We’ll talk a lot more about the fundamentals of nutrition, but for now, think about what you know to be true about food and how to eat to feel your best– physically and mentally. This is your internal wisdom and it’s so important to tune into. And don’t forget about water! Making sure that you’re hydrated is one of the easiest and most effective ways to feel your best. Pro tip: You’re well-hydrated when your pee is a light lemonade color.
Movement: This includes all types of physical activity– exercise (running, biking, weight lifting, yoga, etc.) and activity of daily living (stretching, walking, going up the stairs, standing, etc.). Regular movement is so important for our long-term health and disease prevention.
Sleep: Sleep is absolutely essential for basic maintenance and repair of our neurological, endocrine, immune, musculoskeletal and digestive systems. It’s the time during which your body “takes out the trash,” detoxing itself of metabolic waste and other bodily toxins. Good sleep enhances memory and mental clarity, boosts mood and energy, improves immune function, and helps us deal with stress better. If you’re properly prioritizing your health, you’re prioritizing your sleep.
Stress management: Health is both physical and mental, and one of the biggest strains on our mental health is chronic stress. Think about what it would mean for you to take a proactive role in managing your stress.
Each of these pillars factors into your big picture health. We often find that the most common challenges people face with food and fitness (lack of consistency; stress eating; lack of motivation) aren’t problems in and of themselves. Rather, they’re signs that another pillar of wellness isn’t being properly tended to. Here’s what we mean:
Wouldn’t you be more consistent with your nutrition if your lack of sleep weren’t causing overpowering cravings?
Would stress eating be as much of a struggle if you knew how to properly manage your stress?
Wouldn’t you feel more motivated to exercise if you had an accountability buddy in your circle of friends?
So now that you’re clear on the various components of health (and you may have some others of your own!), let’s get to the self-care part. In NF, we’re big proponents of framing our healthy habits within the context of a self-care routine.
Ok, but what the heck does does that even mean??
It means thinking of your healthy habits as ways to take care of yourself, not just tools to change the way your body looks. It means crafting nourishing and satisfying meals that you truly enjoy, not forcing yourself to eat Lean Cuisines that leave you hungry (and prone to binge later). It means no longer using exercise as punishment, and instead adding in movement that genuinely feels good for you. It means prioritizing ALL aspects of your health, like sleep and stress management, which allows you to live a life in alignment with your purpose and values.
It means you can finally free yourself from the pendulum swing of “all on” vs. “all off” as health habits start to seamlessly fit into the life you created.
This approach isn’t just about being nice or soft or getting all woowoo. It’s about creating real change in your life and sustainable results in your health. Not only does it feel good, but it works.
How do you get started? Lucky for you, we’ve included this Redefining Health as Self-Care worksheet Download it, fill it out, and then TAKE ACTION and reap the rewards!