We all aspire to live a healthy lifestyle. We scroll through our Instagrams and sigh dreamily at all the yogis posing effortlessly or our favorite foodie’s smoothie bowls. Health is something we all want, and it’s something from which we can all benefit. But, when we get right down to it, do any of us really know how to live a healthy lifestyle? Or do we just assume we know based on what we see?
The simple truth is that the healthy lifestyles we see or read about on social media are often mere snapshots of reality. They’re designed to look picture perfect, rather than accurately showcase the real lives of ordinary people.
A healthy lifestyle is so much more than running marathons and drinking detox teas. In today’s post, we’ll try to break it all down into one definitive guide on how to live a healthy lifestyle. We’ll talk about what health is, the many facets of wellness (yes, there are many!), and how to stay healthy throughout your life.
Let’s get started!
What is Health?
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete mental, physical, and social well-being. Specifically, health is more than the absence of disease or injury. Health isn’t just about surviving; it’s about thriving.
Health and wellness have multiple, often overlapping parts. We call these the Nine Pillars of Wellness. We may naturally maintain good health in some aspects of our lives, but no one pillar is more important than the others. For true health, we need to focus on all nine.
The Nine Pillars of Health and Wellness
Physical wellness is what we tend to think of when we’re thinking about wellness in general. It’s the state of not having any illnesses or injuries, but also about feeling physically well day by day. Physical wellness can be the difference between waking up energized in the morning or wanting to hit the snooze button and fall back asleep. It can be taking multiple flights of stairs without getting tired. Physical wellness is glowing skin, bright eyes, and a sensible appetite.
We improve our physical wellness by eating well, exercising, and making sure we get enough rest. Fabulous can help with all these things! We can help you build an exercise routine that sticks, cut excess sugar from your diet, or help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Try downloading the app today to get started for free.
In recent years, our emotional health has been entering the spotlight, which we love! Emotional wellness is defined by our ability to identify, understand, and express our emotions.
If you find yourself struggling with your emotional health, try injecting some self-care into your daily life. A daily journaling habit can help you sort out your feelings by getting them out of your head and onto paper. Even something as simple as a daily expression of gratitude can help you better regulate your emotions.
Intellectual wellness involves being able to use the resources available to you to expand your knowledge. Humans crave intellectual stimulation. We’re programmed to learn new things and experiment. When we can’t do that, we stagnate, grow restless, and become agitated or depressed.
But how does one improve their intellectual wellness? Easy! Pick up a new hobby. Explore your city for a museum or gallery to visit. Head to your local library and pick up a book or see what other resources are available. Some libraries offer free courses on anything from technological literacy to watercolor painting. Others offer access to websites like Lynda or Mango Languages, where you can learn all sorts of new skills from the comfort of your own home.
Many of us might conflate spiritual health with religion, which isn’t the case. Religion can help us improve our spiritual health, but spiritual health is really about finding meaning in our lives. When we believe we have a purpose and can start each day with positive intentions, we have good spiritual health. When our bodies and minds feel connected and we feel present in our lives, we have good spiritual health. Having spiritual wellness is all about having a positive sense of who we are in the world.
Improving spiritual wellness isn’t as cut and dried as some other pillars of wellness because it’s a highly individual process. Nobody, not even us here at Fabulous, can tell you what your purpose is (though we can help you figure it out for yourself with the “Burning Purpose” Make Me Fabulous exercise in our app). But working toward figuring it out is a great place to start. If you are religious, you can start there, by reviewing religious texts or praying. If you’re not, try reading self-help books or meditating.
Humans love to create things. We make everything from music to furniture, and when we don’t have the means to create, it can take a serious toll on our wellbeing. We also benefit from looking at what has already been created. When we have good creative health, we can appreciate the beauty in everything we experience. Not just in man-made things like art, but in nature, too. Creativity is a fantastic stress reliever and can help us express our emotions when simple words fail.
There are many ways to work on your creative wellness. The simplest is to create! Or, if you’re looking for inspiration, you needn’t look any further than your own backyard. Take a walk through nature and witness its beauty. Listen to birdsong and the running water of a creek or river. Smell the fresh scent of trees and wildflowers. Take in beauty with all your senses, then unleash it wherever you deem fit.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a world that requires money to thrive. Granted, our world puts more emphasis on building wealth than is healthy, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore our finances altogether. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), nearly three-quarters of Americans are stressed about money, and it’s affecting their physical and emotional health.
The good news is that good financial health does not mean being wealthy. It simply involves having a strong sense of your finances and being able to plan and achieve sensible financial goals. Making and keeping a budget, increasing your income, and decreasing your expenses, are all ways to build financial health.
We are more affected by our environment than we realize. Everything to the amount of clutter in a room to the color of our surroundings leaves an impression on our psyche. Our sensory organs are constantly receiving input from our surroundings. Our environment can affect us in a positive way; for example, a tidy, minimal space can help us focus on work and not get distracted. However, our environment can also have negative consequences, like when air or noise pollution makes us sick.
When we realize we don’t exist in a vacuum, and that we are connected to the world we live in, we feel a stronger obligation to keep it pristine. If you ever need to reconnect with your world, try plogging. You’ll get some exercise and connect to your neighborhood–and your planet–in a new but simple way.
Humans are a social species. We evolved to this point by cooperating and freely exchanging ideas. It should come as no surprise that the internet, one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments, is a tool that helps us communicate and share information!
Going out into the world in search of positive social experiences can sound terrifying if you’re shy or awkward, but fear not. Opportunities abound if you know where to look. Find a local sports team or organization that’s relevant to your interests. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded people and have something to talk about during those awkward first impressions.
Or, Fabulous can help you strengthen the social bonds you already have! The next time you try a challenge or journey, invite a friend to join you. You’ll be able to share your experiences and keep each other motivated. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone, either.
Since we spend about a third of our time at work, it makes sense that job satisfaction would affect our general wellness. Career wellness is all about having a satisfying job that you enjoy, and that grants you the work-life balance that suits you. For some people, this may mean working a demanding job for 50 hours a week. For others, this may be a simple part-time job that makes just enough money to cover the bills while freeing up time for other pursuits.
If you don’t feel like your job is fulfilling you, ask yourself why. Could you benefit from going from full-time to part-time? What about working remotely? Or, perhaps, would you be better off quitting altogether and finding something more in line with your values?
How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle
This is a lot to take in. Who knew that wellness was so complex! It’s hard to believe it, but consider how complex we are as individuals. We’re can be logical in some ways while completely irrational in others. We may have basic needs for survival but a long, happy life requires so much more than food, water, and shelter.
To better understand your wellness strengths and weaknesses, try this exercise: Get a notebook and write out each of the nine pillars of wellness, then rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being your weakest pillar, and 10 being your strongest. You may have multiple pillars you feel particularly weak or strong on. That’s okay! But be honest with yourself.
Once you have your strengths and weaknesses on paper, it’ll be easier for you to work on improving those weaknesses, maintaining your strengths, and achieving total wellness.