Looking after our health and well-being should be our first priority in life. Yet we forget how important and vital it is to be well. We think we have no other choice but to keep going, or that we’ll be all right if we push through.
There are so many external demands placed on ourselves, whether at work or home, that we’re tempted to put everything else before our own health and well-being. We start to cut corners, not always eating well, sleeping less and less, forgetting to exercise and letting stress reach unhealthy levels, all in the name of being busy.
Some of us have become so used to this way of living that we no longer know what it feels like to get up full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to meet the day’s challenges and excitements ahead. We let the weight slowly creep in, year after year, thinking, well, after all, I want to enjoy life, and food is one of the ways I do this. Or we spend hours in front of the computer surfing the net without clear intent, or in front of the television watching yet another police drama or reality show, to distract ourselves and have a little break from life and reality, looking for excitement outside, not really knowing how we feel inside.
For some it may even be more serious, with suddenly feeling not being able to cope with life’s demands, feeling tired all the time and having to constantly use stimulants to go through the day ahead… not realising that the bomb is ticking when, in the evening, we can’t wind down and get a proper night of rest.
This is when we realise that something has to change and that our well-being is important. I love reminding myself how, in planes, in case of an emergency, a parent should always put the oxygen mask on him or herself first, and then on the child. Health is like that. We need to look after ourselves first and then look after whatever needs to be looked after in our life: work, family and other endeavours.
What happens as well when we feel great physically, emotionally and mentally is that we perform better at work; we can be more present with our partner, children if we have any, friends or colleagues. In a word, we are more present to life and what it has to offer.
How can this be achieved? Simply by developing habits that support our health and wellbeing. These habits address the “building blocks” of health. They are the essentials to a healthy body and mind. These building blocks include ensuring that our body and brain are well hydrated and nourished throughout the day, that we get adequate rest, and that we move regularly. Sitting is becoming the new smoking, and slowly killing us. We need to monitor our stress levels so we know when to act and have practices in place so we can relax, feel more at peace and have balance in life – whatever balance means for each one of us.