Why Being Healthy Is More Than Diet and Exercise

Why Being Healthy Is More Than Diet and Exercise
Photo by Jared Rice / Unsplash

Stress kills

I consider myself a healthy person. I exercise regularly, I eat well and I take all my vitamins. Over the last few days, I became ill from what seems like food poisoning and it’s made me rethink what it means to be healthy.

During the pandemic, we became aware of all the pathogens that are in the environment at all times. Maybe we overreacted to some of them by using hand sanitizer every time we walked into a new room but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in being aware of what it means to be healthy.

When I think of health, I think of diet and exercise but it expands further than that. Being healthy means being healthy in all aspects of our lives.

Photo by Kinga Howard on Unsplash

Being Healthy Means Managing Stress

Stress kills. Studies show chronic stress can affect immune system function, memory, and mood. However, short-term stress such as exercise can actually boost your immune system. Humans are not built to deal with chronic stress.

When you are chronically stressed, it makes it challenging to make the correct choices about everything else in your life.

When you come home from a stressful day of work, you’re more likely to order takeout than make something for yourself at home.

When we are stressed, we tend to default back to our habits which are the path of least resistance.

Meditation and journaling can be useful tools for managing stress. These are not the end all, be all for managing stress though. While meditation and journaling can certainly help manage stress, they do not serve as a magic pill. We will have to confront our stress at some point before it bubbles over and gets to the point where it’s unmanageable.

I look at a tool such as journaling as something that helps me organize my thoughts as a plan on how to manage stress. This allows me to confront it with much better intentions.

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Being Healthy Means Being Mindful About Our Hygiene

This might seem ridiculous but if I keep my fingernails shorter, my allergies are not as bad. My hunch is that when I have shorter fingernails, dirt, and dander does not get underneath them to carry them into my eye.

How often do you half-ass your skin-care routine because you don’t think it matters? How often do you cut corners washing your hands because you don’t want to take the extra 20 seconds to make sure they’re clean?

Most people have good hygiene, especially considering how poor hygiene was a few centuries ago. Next time you take a shower or wash your hands, ask yourself if you are doing an optimal job.

In the military, soldiers are trained to not touch their faces to prevent the spread of germs. This is a concept that has been understood for a long time, well before the pandemic.

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

Being Healthy Also Means Having Good Relationships

Having great friendships and relationships is vital to mental health. Studies have shown that people who have satisfying marriages have a reduced risk of cardiac diseases. Many of us know what it’s like to have a relationship that is not satisfying. This causes unwanted stress that is out of our control.

Having deep and meaningful relationships are important but not easy to find. It requires us to be vulnerable and give back to the person. No relationship should be a one-way street.

Health is more than diet and exercise. There’s no use in eating a healthy diet and exercising all the time if you are chronically stressed about it. It does become a paradox when you are paranoid about eating the correct foods but at the same time, the stress from wanting to eat the correct foods is causing you to make poor eating choices.

This is why it can be so challenging to be healthy.

Everything is interconnected. Write out what a healthy life would look like to you and see if you can make steps towards it. Some of it may require to make sacrifices in some areas. Your future self with thank you.