Human beings are complicated yet we want simple solutions. That’s why many look for a prescription to deal with pain – whether the pain is physical, emotional, mental or even spiritual. The right prescription can at times help. However, we need to make sure that we don’t ignore the lifestyle choices that got us where we are today. If we do – we won’t really get better.
Let’s say you’re under a deadline, so you live on caffeine and sugary energy bars. By skipping meals your body is starving for essential nutrients and minerals. This leads to sleep deprivation, which hinders your body from making vital repairs. Your moodiness and tiredness cause your relationships to suffer. You turn to alcohol to relax, but it makes things worse. Your mind starts bombarding you with negative and abusive self-talk. You begin to believe nothing you do works. You’re a failure. Everything starts to snowball into a mental health crisis like depression. So you keep pushing harder and harder…
Did you see the lifestyle choices that led to this pain? If you see yourself struggling be assured that it’s never too late to improve your health. We have the power to cultivate wellbeing by making small, deliberate changes in our lifestyles in the following seven areas:
- Sleep and daily relaxation
- Intimacy with self and others
- Setting short and long term goals
You might say, “Maria, every year, I really try. I resolve to do things differently. And I do okay for the first day, the first week, or the first month. Then I mess up. I just can’t keep it up. Now I feel even worse. Not only can’t I change, I feel like such a failure for not having enough willpower. Why should I even try?”
Let me reassure you…you can change. It is worth the effort. You can succeed.
How can you make lifestyle changes that truly lead to better physical, emotional, spiritual and metal health? Where do you start and how do you make these changes stick?
When making changes it’s really important to:
- Avoid the temptation to work on all seven areas at once. That’s too much. Instead, pick only one lifestyle change to work on until it becomes the way you want to live. That success will empower you to tackle the next one.
- Do it in small chunks. Take your one big goal and list the steps you need to take to accomplish it. This makes it more realistic, achievable and less overwhelming. For example, do you want to eat healthier? One step may be to clean the sugar and junk food out of the cupboards, pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Another step may be to find healthy recipes you want to try. Another step is to stick to a weekly grocery list of only healthful foods. Another step is to build in new reward systems for each success – treat yourself to a pedicure, a new book, new clothes, etc.
- Have a buddy system. We need support and encouragement to be successful. We need someone to be accountable to and to share our challenges and victories. I could not do it without the fierce and gentle support of my buddies!
- Continue to adjust your goals as new information is available. We aren’t aware of all the variables when we start, so we need to continue to adjust. It’s like a pilot that starts with a destination and a route in mind and during the flight has to adjust because of the weather or other air traffic. You may make it your goal to lose weight, but first you need to learn to eat healthier or start an exercise program. Or you might find that you’re an emotional eater who needs to heal a relationship problem first.
- Accept that there are some things that can’t be changed. If there are some physical problems that can’t be fixed, you can still focus on mental health, emotional support and spirituality to help you accept your current situation and cope in a healthier way. You will often discover this improves your physical wellbeing in the process.
Every time you make mindful choices that supports the lifestyle you envision for yourself, you’re taking back the control you need. Each success empowers you to go on to the next with confidence. You can improve your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health one step at a time. If you find you aren’t getting the support you need, why not give me a call and we can schedule an appointment to work together so you can achieve the success you desire and deserve.