If you have been following the blog for a while you might have realized that I'm really passionate about natural nutrition and healthy eating and how my eating habits helped me solve some health issues that I was experiencing in the past.
In reality, a complete state of health depends on much more than good nutrition. There are several other factors that influence the way we feel and how our body performs. So this Monday and next Monday I'm sharing with you 10 tips that you can easily apply to your life in a daily basis that can actually improve your health.
I think about health as a jigsaw puzzle, where several pieces need to come together and match perfectly. If one piece is missing or doesn't match perfectly, the beauty of the puzzle can hardly be contemplated.
We tend to think about health as something physical but in reality our emotional health has the same or even higher impact on the way we feel. I divided this 10 tip collection into two groups: 5 tips that might help you improve your physical health and 5 tips that might give you some clues on how to manage your emotional health. This week we're talking about emotional health.
5 Tips to improve your emotional health
1. Do what you love
Have you heard the old quote from the Chinese philosopher Confucius "Do what you love and you won't have to work a day in your life."? And you know what? It is not just a quote, it is actually reality! How many of us are unhappy with what we do as a job but we live in conformity and we accept the idea that this is just how work is (it is do be done and not do be loved...)?
But we don't have to live this way! We don't have to spend our entire life doing something that does not make us happy just because it is what we studied for, or it is what we invested in or because it pays well and gives social reputation. Take a moment to reflect within yourself and think what is more important for you: is it the stuff you're able to buy with the good money you earn in a job you hate and makes you feel miserable, or is it the feeling of freedom and self fulfillment of doing something you are truly passionate about, so passionate that doing it sounds more like fun or like playing than like a real job?
For some of you, social reputation and earning a good salary no matter what might be a determinant factor. And there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is what makes you happy. But for others, just like happened to me, you might feel like you're entrapped in a job or in a life you don't enjoy and you feel the obligation to do it. And this might be what is holding you back from enjoying health in its plenitude.
If you feel that you need a change allow the change to happen! Take responsibility for your emotional health. Take control of your life! Search for your true passion, search for what arouses your curiosity constantly.
This is a topic I'll certainly talk about more often here in the blog. Stay tuned.
2. Respect your personality
Society is mainly designed for extroverts. At school or work, we are encouraged (or even forced) to work in groups. We are placed in shared offices or open spaces that we have to share with several people. The capacity to speak in public, the capacity to face audiences, the capacity to argument, to control our body language to transmit the right message (even if it is not an honest message) is stimulated and applauded. And the desired that some of us express of being alone or working alone is often labelled as social phobia.
I always felt comfortable being on my own and it was always more comfortable and easier for me do to a work on my own than in a group of people. For a long time I felt that my feelings were not adequate and that I suffered from some kind of social phobia. Society and my education made me believe that and I felt sorry for myself and even angry to be this way.
Fortunately, I realized that I don't suffer from social phobia and I'm not an inadequate person. This is how I am. I'm an introvert. And introverts need there own space and their moments of solitude. It is that space and those moments of solitude that give them the opportunity to have their best performance. It is in that space that they can be who they really are. It is in that space that they reach their highest creativity and sensibility capabilities.
There's nothing wrong with being an introvert, the same exact way there's nothing wrong about being an extrovert. Unfortunately, our society seems not to be ready to accept both human personality types the same exact way. It is easier or more comfortable to put a label on someone who does not fall within the patterns of society's expectations. But that can change and the change starts within each one of us. Either if you are an introvert or if you're an extrovert, express your wills and desires. Search for what is more comfortable for you and for what allows you to be the best version of yourself.
You can listened more about this topic on this TED talk video here.
3. Reduce stress
Stress: that magnificent invention of the XX century, that has come to stay with us and ruin our lives...
Stress can't be seen or touched but is certainly real. Stress translates into several physiological processes that are well known and studied. Stress is already considered as one of the risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases nut not only.
Among other physiological phenomena, stress has huge impact on our breading frequency (and our breading frequency has a huge impact on our stress levels). Superficial breading, not deep enough and accelerated, is a typical sign of stress. This kind of breading decreases blood oxygenation, making it more difficult for our body to eliminate toxic metabolites, and also stimulates the releasing of "stress molecules" (such as cortisol, the hormone of stress), which can have a negative impact on our health long term.
There are several strategies to help us control and reduce stress in our daily life. Avoiding putting yourself in stressful situations and get equipped with strategies that help you manage those situations. Yoga, meditation, exercise, taking 3 deep breaths, counting up to 10, eating more plant-based foods and less animal products are just a few examples that can help you with this task and make a huge difference on your health.
4. Laugh more
It is common to hear "Laugh is the best medicine.". In reality, laughing triggers a cascade of processes in our bodies that culminates with the release of molecules in our brains (the popular endorphins) that make us feel good.
But sometimes we are so trapped in our daily tasks that we completely forget to this simple thing that can help us so much. Laugh can help us prevent or revert depression, anxiety, mood swings and even deal with chronic pain.
There are several easy strategies to release a good laugh throughout the day. You can hear a comedy show podcast or read a funny story in a magazine. You can even write and carry a small pocket notebook with some funny situations you have been through and read it when you feel like doing it. You can develop the habit of always carry a smile on your face and laugh from your own incidents or embarrassments. You tripped over the sidewalk on your way to work in the middle of the crowd. Why feel angry and embarrassed about it? Laugh about it! Enjoy the fact that you're not perfect, that you're human and not a robot!
One of my favorite strategies (infallible, I would say) for those moments when I'm feeling in a lower mood that makes me quickly forget everything and burst out laughing is watching funny cat videos online. If you like cats and enjoy their unique way of being naturally silly sometimes, search for "funny cats" on YouTube and get ready for a good moment of laughing. For some reason this is one of the most searched topics on YouTube...
5. Practice self love
This one is probably the most important of this 5 tips to improve your emotional health, and is the one I truly recommend you to put in your priority list. Without self love any positive change in your life will be much more difficult to happen. On the other hand, if you practice self love, everything else will come into place naturally with time.
For cultural reasons, we are educated to avoid and repress any manifestation of self love. Self love manifestations are usually misinterpreted as manifestations of selfishness, as egocentric feelings or even futility. We learn to live for others leaving our wants and needs for second plan. And frequently we start to fill up that void that lack of self love creates with secondary stuff, such as material possessions, less healthy habits, additions and not nourishing and negative relationships.
We cannot give to others if we don't give to ourselves first. We cannot truly love and care for someone if we don't love and care for ourselves. Place yourself on the top of your priorities. Leave that guilty feeling behind your back and allow yourself to practice self love. Look in the mirror and contemplate your beauty. Reflect within yourself and admire your intelligence and integrity. And if you find something you don't like in your life and within yourself, change it and become someone even more astonishing.
These are the first 5 tips that come to my mind when I think about emotional health and what has helped me personally to feel better with myself and to feel healthier! I hope you can get something useful for you out of it and that this article inspires you to become the best version of yourself.
And stay tuned for Part II - 5 Tips to improve your physical health, next week on the rubric More Info Mondays!