The term health is most often used in connection to a certain component of our body and its functioning, usually referring to physical and mental health. When discussing health issues or problems, the main topic is usually a disease, injury or specific condition. A holistic approach, however, will involve actively engaging with all the dimensions of our lives, and appreciating how they work in tandem to keep us whole and healthy. The reality is that our physical being is far more all-encompassing than just our body and its functions.
With wellness and its components, problems usually surface or show up as a disbalance in certain aspects of our life: our career, our emotional health and relationships, a lack of interest in physical activity, poor nutrition, inadequate intellectual stimulation, etc. Above all else, the key to wellness is found in becoming acutely aware of oneself. Your physical core reflects the overall condition of your body, and awareness of what is needed to maintain it.
Nurturing and maintaining your physical core involves a healthy balance of physical activity, nutrition, and mental well-being, and avoiding situations that cause undue fatigue, dis-ease, or physical stress. It not only involves the absence of illness by adopting healthful habits, but also focuses on avoiding or minimizing risky health behaviors.
Your physical energy is foundational
Your physical core serves as the base upon which you build out your other energies. It will be difficult to work on aspects like your emotional or your relational core for example, without taking care of your body first. This dimension of wellness also includes what to avoid – the serious consequences of alcohol over-consumption, a lifestyle with low physical activity, and poor nutritional habits are the first telling signs of a physical condition that is not geared towards a healthy outcome.
The three keys to a healthy physical core:
Physical health and nutrition go hand in hand. Nutrition is your fuel – yet so many of us neglect what they eat every day. We fill our body with the wrong kind of fuel, and then struggle with the consequences of it.
Starting a healthy relationship with food takes some deliberate decision-making, but it is worth it. To start out, be mindful of how food is stored in your cupboard or pantry. Research shows that you are 3 times more likely to eat the first thing you see in your cupboard than the fifth thing you see. If you want to make healthier choices, make them easier – put the nutritious food in reach and the not so healthy ones out of reach.
Another important behavior you can change today is to focus solely on your food during meal times. While it does seem like a fitting experience to watch TV, spend time scrolling, read or do anything else, it has been proven that mindful eating helps us feel more satiated and full after a meal. Solely focusing on eating doesn’t just help you digest your food better, it also makes you a more efficient worker for any other tasks.
Physical exercise affects almost all aspects of our being, from regulating our mood and willpower, to mental sharpness, memory, and creativity.
The second element of great physical energy is how fit you are. This can be in terms of how much oxygen your blood stream can transport at any given time. And working on your fitness level doesn’t just come with great health benefits – out of all possible habits and routines, the habit of exercising and physical fitness is one of the most powerful lifestyle modifications. The reason is because physical fitness is considered a “cornerstone habit”. This means that it nudges you to build other healthy habits on top of it, like healthy eating and getting adequate sleep. After you have a consistent fitness habit, you are basically ready to tackle any other challenge much easier.
3. Sleep and Renewal
Do you sleep enough to renew your strength?
The problem with not getting enough sleep is often that we aren’t aware of it, and the consequences can be devastating. Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling fatigued, irritable and exhausted in the short-term, but it can also have serious long-term health consequences. Lack of sleep is linked to a number of health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression.
Apart from sleep, there are certain ‘pit-stop’ activities that everyone needs to renew our energy. Different people may have their own way of doing it, but everyone can benefit from certain down time activities in a day to help them re-calibrate and re-focus.
- Take a nap: Some days, you need an extra sleep boost. Even a short power nap can be extremely beneficial to renew your energy and help you feel more focused.
- Spend time reading: Almost everyone I know wants to spend more time reading, but can’t get around to it. Schedule a slot in your day for reading and learning new things. An easy way is to plan it around a time where you are not going to be very productive, like before dinner or after lunch.
- Build a meditation habit: Another excellent way to get more renewal throughout the day is to practice meditation. It helps you stay mindful, refocus your energy, and align your mind, body, and spirit.
Working at building all three of keys for a healthy physical core will serve you well, especially if you are building the base for improving your overall wellness. Positive physical health habits can help decrease your stress, lower your risk of disease, and increase your energy.