Written with love, by Nikki
When we talk about what it takes to get healthy, we immediately think of eating right and exercising. Our physical health is our top priority, because if we are in the best physical shape, life is fabulous, right? I beg to differ.
The Health Triangle
Around middle school, children are usually required to take a health class. In this health class they may learn about the Health Triangle. The health triangle is an illustration to show how we must be balanced in every aspect in order to lead a healthy life. The three sides to the equilateral triangle are physical health, social health, and mental/emotional health. As we grow older and take on more responsibilities, sometimes this triangle with “equal” sides becomes more distorted. We may hit the gym every day and try to eat clean and healthy, but outside of the gym are stressed out because of work and family. Or, we may take so much time helping others, for example our children, an elderly parent, our spouses, etc. that we don’t find time to fit in the physical aspect of our health. In the long run, each part of the health triangle actually goes hand in hand.
What happens if your physical health falls behind? It may start to be hard to get up in the morning or have that extra energy to make it through the day. Your friends want to meet you for drinks on a Friday evening but you just want to stay on your couch, because you haven’t exercised all and you’ve been eating processed sugars the entire week. It happens to us all! When you know your week with be packed and you won’t be able to get to the gym or cook, try the following:
· Wake up 20 minutes early and do two sets of each: 30 crunches, 25 squats, 20 pushups and 20 lunges. This will get you going in the morning. Then do it again before you go to sleep. There’s about 20-30 minutes of exercise right there!
· Try to cook meals on a Sunday (or a day that you’re not so swamped). Make a huge salad, cut up vegetables and fruit, grill some chicken in bulk and pack it in separate so you can have meals for the next 3-4 days. Make sure you have enough nutrient-rich food to get you through half the week. You can do this 2 times a week. Make this time a priority and schedule it in!
· You also need to prioritize sleep. It’s been a long day and you’re lying in bed—surfing the internet until 2am. Put the electronics aside. A good solid 8 hours a night is more important than what’s new on Reddit, or you catching up with your TV shows. Catch up with your sleep instead!! Your body will thank you.
What about your social health? If life is all about work, work, work and the only friends you have seen in a month has been your two cats, hit up one of your friends to go for a hike or some dinner. A lot of time my schedule is so packed that I forget to enjoy the wonderful people that are in my life. After I force myself to make time for even just a meal, I always think, “Why haven’t I done that sooner?” Your social health can lead to better emotional health by being reminded what a positive impact certain people have on your life.
Having the ability to deal with stress and to bounce back from adversity—that is some solid mental health. Having the desire and a zest for living and resilience until you reach your goals probably means that you are in a good mental state. However, if you are feeling hopeless, lose the desire to do some of your favorite things, or have anger or irritability, these may be signs of depression.
The thing about someone’s mental state is that sometimes it can be out of his or her control. This can cause your physical and social health to decline—not wanting to be around anyone and not wanting to get out of bed to eat or exercise. In the United States, 1 in 4 Americans reach a state of depression per year. Depression in not uncommon, but people that suffer with depression usually don’t like to talk about it. If your dog just died or you are going through a divorce, mild depression is understandable and unavoidable. But if you feel out of control and helpless, you can always seek help from a loved one or a specialist. There’s help out there!
If you feel you are lacking in one aspect of your health-triangle world, try to pick it up on that one side. Write some things down that you can do to improve that aspect, and see where you are in a month. Our lives are constantly changing, and we should always be looking to better ourselves so we can better the world around us.
With that being said, you must remember to take care of yourself--you are number 1. Because without a healthy “you,” you’re no good to anybody else!