Would you say that happiness is just the absence of sadness? No! Happiness is much more than just not being sad. In the same way, health is much more than just the absence of disease. Health is critical for getting the most out of life. Every aspect of living is affected by your current wellness state. The best investment is always in yourself, and improving general health will return huge dividends.
The topic of health becomes even more essential to young parents. Burn-out affects many adults and is chronic among overworked families. Being healthy is the ability to handle all of the different and new situations of life (and yes this includes diaper explosions and intense bedtime negotiations). Also, the manner in which you address your personal health will be emulated by those who look up to you.
What Does Health Look Like?
With so much conflicting information out there, it’s easy to ask, ‘what does it mean to be healthy?’ There is no exact formula or simple checklist. Health is much more than eating your greens and going for walks. Health is the combination of physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual well-being. Being at the end of your rope emotionally can be just as fatiguing as doing difficult exercise after a break from physical activity.
Every person is at a different point in life’s journey with a different destination in mind. Don’t compare yourself to others. Take stock of where you are at and then implement small measures to move towards your goal.
Areas of Health
Health is a combination of many things but has roots in the following four categories.
- Physical health is often the first that comes to mind when we think of health. You might think of the number of pushups they can do or their resting heart rate. However, it is much more. It also includes the level of resistance against sickness, mobility, sleeping patterns, nutrition, fitness, level of hydration, etc.
- Mental and emotional health are often so closely intertwined that they become inseparable. Mental health refers to the ability to understand and process information from life’s experiences. Emotional health is the ability to feel, react, and respond to these life experiences. Both are linked to the psychological state of the individual from past events, childhood experiences, and biological dispositions. This is a cornerstone of health.
- Humans are social and need to connect to others around them. This is why we live in families and communities. It is natural to want to serve others, converse, enjoy another’s company, and share this common human experience. Time should be set aside to build relationships that provide support and comfort.
- Spiritual health is very individualistic and extremely personal. The feeling of being part of something bigger and that life contains meaning is empowering. A moral compass is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of life and the subsequent negative consequences.
What You Can do to be Healthy as a New Parent
Now with a better understanding of what composes health, it’s time to look at what you can do. The different factors that compose health and wellness are so intertwined that improvement in one area affects all of the other areas. Here are a few suggestions:
- Exercise is critical to health. It helps increase your immune response and stimulates different hormonal responses within the body. Physical activity reduces stress and anxiety. Exercise at a gym or planned runs are great, but smaller efforts to stay active such as walking, and using the stairs help keep your body moving. Everything in life is easier when you are in good physical condition.
- When it comes to nutrition, health and wellness rely on your good habits. Begin slowly and take account of your current situation. Add a serving of vegetables, or limit certain foods. Do what is sustainable and slowly mold your food choices to align with your goals.
- Rest and sleep are the recharge that your body requires. Sleep allows for rejuvenation, stress reduction, healing, and growth. Training your body to follow good sleep patterns will yield huge results. Experts are united on the importance of sleep. Listen to your body. If you need more sleep, then sleep.
- Self-care is not some wistful ideal but an urgent necessity. It’s important to gauge one’s mental and emotional state and act accordingly. Life is not a sprint but a marathon. There are times to slow down and rest. Try different or new things like meditation, journal writing, or learning a new hobby. Learn how your brain works and mold your lifestyle to support mental health.
What does it mean to be healthy? Now you know that only you can answer that. Everyone should have their own personalized plan as they head towards the goal of health and wellness. Health must become a priority if you want it to improve. Set your goals, make a plan, feel the difference.