It’s easy to think in our days of busy-ness that if we’re not feeling the I’ll effects of a poor body or a poor mind, then we must be ok. It’s not logical, but you can follow the reasoning. The human body, though, like any other well functioning system needs sustenance and maintenance. To be well and to be our best selves, we have to not only sustain and maintain we have to cultivate and nurture. A beautiful garden doesn’t just happen by itself.
There’s theory, there’s evidence, and there is plenty of sage advice on how to do these things. And here’s my take on what we know about practical steps for physical and mental health.
Be physically active
This doesn’t mean go to the gym. What we know is that even if you go for a 20 min walk everyday, that’s good enough to help you feel physically well and maintain good mental health. It’s not a lack of going to the gym or being on the latest diet to reduce weight that’s our biggest problem (although obesity is a problem), it’s mostly just not being active enough.
Don’t feel like going for a walk? How about doing the hoover around the house? Or cutting the grass (if of course you have a garden)? Or playing a sporty game with friends, family or kids?
I suggest going for a walk because it’s something most of us can do. Especially those of us with regular jobs. And not simply just going to the shops for your lunch, or to the station for your commute. But a purposeful 20 mins to just go for a walk.
Meet with friends / be social
Humans are social beasts. We can’t help but be social. Even though you may prefer the company of yourself most of the time (and lots of people do) at some point you’ll have a need to be with others.
Being with friends and being social serves a fundamental need in us to feel appreciated by others, generate relationships, be with like minded people, and generally feel good about ourselves.
If you find it hard to sometimes connect with others, maybe find a group or a network you can join. There are loads of them around, and can help you find a regular activity to enjoy with others. And clearly I’m not meaning to engage in illegal or morally questionable activities.
Do one thing to enjoy your time and be happy about it
This can seem like a properly indulgent thing to do. Especially if you have various personal expectations about when you should do something just for yourself.
The truth is, you can take that time to do something for yourself, and the only person who will have any judgement about it is you. If others place judgement on you, that’s there issue not yours.
Doing something where the time just goes and at the end of it you feel rejuvenated, is a personally very fulfilling thing to be able to do. It’s about self-learning. When we learn about ourselves and feel that we’re better as people that’s pretty unbeatable.
Kindness happens without need for validation
There’s something about the modern age which invites people to share just how kind they are. For some this is done to project an image. For some it’s about genuinely wanting to share without needing validation. For others it’s about being seen to show how good they are.
For all our ages, we know that kindness is another fundamental human behaviour. Sure, to some it can be seen as a failing trait, but when we experience it, it creates connection, it creates happiness, and it affirms who we are as a species.
So, go ahead. Be kind to others. If you share it, fine. If you don’t, that’s fine too. Just be sure your intent is to genuinely help others and not manipulate them for your own purposes.
As long as a condition isn’t getting in the way, try and sleep well. I know people who profess they only need 4 hours sleep a night. Erm. Maybe, but you’re hardly cultivating a healthy lifestyle. If you’re activemy restricting the length of sleep you get, you’re just simply not letting the body be physically and mentally well. You’re filling it with too much stimulation and little time for it to not be active. The body needs considerable down time in order to be at its best. Some people can do well on little sleep. That’s a small minority.
For the rest of us, we need at least 6 hours sleep a night if not 8. I mean that’s not a mandate, do what works for you.
And I’ve got news which might not be great to hear. The experts say you should maintain your routine each day. Yeah that means not sleeping later at the weekends. I’ll admit to not seeing that part through. Although if you have younglings that may be out if your hands anyway.
As always, this is just some ideas and some of it you probably know. There’s plenty I’ve left out and probably more still that I don’t know about. Hope you have a good weekend.