A couple days ago, I wrote about how we all pretty much know, at this point, what it takes to keep a human healthy: a balanced diet, regular exercise, sleep, and some sort of concerted stress reduction.
And these factors (or habits) don’t just keep our physical bodies healthy. They also help keep our spirits up (emotional health) and our thoughts sharp (cognitive health).
So why don’t we better care of ourselves? A couple issues:
Lack of time: I suffer from this myself, especially in the realm of sleep. Between full-time work, taking care of two kids, and volunteering (sometimes a little too much), getting a full 8 hours of sleep in can be really hard — even though I know it’s important. The same can be true of exercise, diet, and stress reduction.
Chasing fire engines when you should be tending home fires: It’s easy to perceive every day stressors as emergencies. But it’s healthier to understand that every day will brings its dose of drama and decide that you’re going to try to respond to it in a sustainable way — i.e., by taking care of yourself so that your body is strong, your mind is sharp, and your emotions are stable.
Putting other peoples’ needs first: This is a constant problem for women, especially. Your boss needs this, your friend needs that; your kids need this stuff, your partner needs that stuff; your parents want you to do this thing, your siblings expect you to do that thing. Meanwhile, who’s putting your needs first? Probably no one.
Sheer lack of motivation: I’m no fool! I know some of you just don’t want to eat right, exercise, sleep enough, or reduce your stress levels. That’s fine — just know it will affect your mood, your health, your performance, and your general ability to respond to life’s up and downs.
Next up: A short course on how to get on the right track.