Health must be a priority if we want to perform our best at work and be fully present in our personal lives.
When we think about this topic, our first thoughts may be related to physical health. While that is important, we also can’t forget about our emotional and mental health.
According to the World Health Organization, there has been a 13% rise in mental health conditions over the last decade. This world-wide increase speaks to why we should also take time to care for our emotional and mental states, in addition to the physical.
Let’s review the importance of each avenue of health and how we can effectively prioritize them in our lives – both at work and beyond.
Humans are made up of eleven different systems that work together in a complex way to allow our bodies to function.
The intricate way our body operates provides good reasoning for why we should take care of each system to the best of our abilities.
With increasing availability of processed foods and jam-packed schedules, we have less motivation to cook fresh meals with nutrient-rich ingredients and less time to incorporate regular exercise. This reality may be an indication of why obesity has increased in prevalence over time.
A serious reason to be concerned about obesity is that it can lead to increased risk of diseases and health conditions that not only decrease quality of life but can also lead to premature death.
So, what are some things we can we do to prevent obesity and ensure we are taking care of our body’s physical health?
- Try meal planning
- This holds us accountable for what we put into our bodies.
- We can harness the power to actively choose fresh and nutrient-rich ingredients.
- There is no longer an excuse for being too busy to eat with our health in mind.
- Remember: It’s okay to treat yourself, and meal planning can help you to do so more consciously. It’s all about balance, variety, and moderation.
- Visit your doctor regularly
- Yearly wellness visits serve as good opportunities to pause and review your health.
- Doing so allows you to stay ahead of any potential concerns before they become real issues.
- You can have a built-in support system and team to advocate for your health.
- Remember: If you see something or feel something, say something. Prevention is key.
- Download a fitness app
- Most offer short, manageable workout options to fit a busy lifestyle.
- Workouts can be done at home or taken wherever you go. They also often require minimal equipment.
- You can find low cost (or free!) options and still have a good variety of workout types from which to choose.
- Remember: You don’t need structured workouts every day. Even going for a walk and getting your heart rate up is sufficient.
Mental health refers to how we process information.
It seems like our society is constantly filling with more information for us to process. It’s no wonder why feelings of overwhelmingness and mental health issues also continue to rise when we are surrounded by so much information.
One of the more common impacts of this, is the overall increase in stress our society feels. In fact, 73% of Americans say they regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress and 48% feel their stress has increased over the past five years.
So, how can we regulate the amount of information with which we are presented and best manage our mental health?
- Remove the negative
- Television or social media can bring negative feelings to the surface. To keep them at bay, choose to spend less time using these technologies.
- If there is a friend or relationship causing you to feel down, make the decision to end it.
- If there is a situation causing you unnecessary stress, know that it’s okay to remove yourself from it.
- Open up
- Determine the people in your life who offer safe spaces for you to share about your mental health. Check in with this trusted network often to let them know how you are doing.
- Find a mental health professional and make time to meet with them regularly. In addition to being specifically trained, this can provide an unbiased outlet that is always in your corner.
- Be honest. You aren’t expected to be okay all the time, and the only way you can start to heal is by being truthful with those who care about you.
- Practice Mindfulness
- Meditation and focused breathing have been reported to help with mental health problems. Even a few minutes each day can give you an opportunity to recenter and process your thoughts.
- Try downloading an app that can walk you through the meditation process. This can serve as an especially useful tool for beginners to learn best practices.
- Developing these habits for coping with stress and overwhelming feelings can offer a positive outlook for handling mental health long-term.
Emotional health is all about how we manage and express our feelings.
If this seems like it could go hand in hand with mental health, that’s because it does. Through processing our thoughts and information, we usually are left feeling some type of way about them. How we deal with that emotion depends on the state of our emotional health.
How we express our emotions can directly impact those around us. And although it is expected and okay to feel both positive and negative emotions, how we handle them sets the course for the kind of impact they will have.
So, how can we ensure we are appropriately dealing with our emotions in a healthy way?
- Be gentle with yourself
- Know that it’s okay to feel any number of emotions at any given time.
- Rather than trying to suppress undesired emotions, show yourself grace by accepting how you feel and trying to understand why you feel that way.
- Determine what you can do to change your negative emotional state – in a healthy way, of course!
- Try a mood tracker
- There are app versions, paper versions or even ones built into daily planners. Find one that suits your style.
- Have a goal of setting aside a few minutes each day to actively think about your emotional state and chart it.
- Over time, use your tracking to establish patterns to help you better learn what impacts your emotions and why. Hopefully, this insight will also highlight what changes you can make to keep your emotions in line with your goals.
- Find outlets for feelings.
- While it isn’t healthy to keep your emotions hidden and building up inside, there are also plenty of unhealthy ways to let your feelings out.
- Try to plan outlets that will allow you to safely express your emotions – whether negative or positive – before you need them. Often, feeling strong emotions clouds your judgement and ability to think clearly. Having a plan in place can decrease the probability that you will unleash them in unhealthy ways.
- If you often find you are angry or stressed after a hard day at work, consider taking up a physical activity that you can do before heading home for the night, such as kickboxing or martial arts.
All avenues of health – physical, mental, and emotional – are important determinants of our overall well-being and lifestyle. It’s important to take care of each facet to ensure we are living our most healthy lives.
While maintaining our health can be fun, it can also seem like a lot of work. To make it easier, find people you can lean on and share your experiences with. These accountability partners and the encouragement they offer can be the different makers on our journeys to healthy living.
If you are looking for additional resources on this topic, check out our Life Skills Studio.