RELATIONSHIPS (with yourself and others)
This doesn't seem like a topic that would be on a fitness blog but health is about so much more than what we eat and how we move. Your personal relationships and the relationship you have with yourself have everything to do with your physical health. Our brain is receiving messages all day long from what we hear and experience and how that makes us feel, and this is impacting our health.
Imagine two different scenarios: The first one, you are having a picnic in a beautiful setting with someone you love and that person spends that time telling you all the things they cherish about you, what your talents are, and how important you are; the second scenario, same beautiful setting but the person you love is belittling you, complaining about and pointing out your flaws, criticizing who you are. How you feel about the information you receive sets off a chain reaction of thoughts and chemical responses to those messages. In the first scenario, your brain floods your body with positive feelings and hormones and is both energizing and relaxing. In the second one, your brain sends out negative feelings and stress hormones that can make you feel physically ill, exhausted, and drained.
We cannot control what people think or how they feel about us. What we can control is the access they have to us and, therefore, the permission to change us. If it is a co-worker or relative, this can be more difficult than our optional relationships, but some tweaking is still necessary. One way to control it is to set healthy boundaries. If someone is unnecessarily critical, you can tell them, "Hey, I don't appreciate when you say stuff like that", and hope that they respect your wishes and cut it out. If not, it may be time to evaluate how much time you spend with them. Also, you can control the environment that you spend time with those people. It's less likely someone will be rude or critical in front of others. In addition to that, texting and emailing can be a toxic way to communicate with those who are less healthy. For some reason, when we type we lose our filters and can be less sensitive and more direct. If you have a less-than-healthy relationship, try to steer clear of communicating via devices.
It is also important to recognize how you feel when you spend time with friends and loved ones. People who are jealous, confrontational, substance abusers, aggressive, etc., can take a toll on your health. What about people who are sweet when they are with you, but have a habit of talking behind your back, or not showing up or calling when they said they would? This sort of unhealthy dynamic can get in the way of you living your best life by either sabotaging or negatively influencing you. All these things add up to an inner dialogue that sends out chemical responses to your body and an onslaught of cortisol (stress hormone) that can rapidly affect your health in a detrimental way.
You need to start acting as your own best friend. You wouldn't let someone call your mom or sister or BFF fat or useless. Do you say these things to yourself? That is counterproductive. Change the chemical messages you send to your body by loving, accepting, and nurturing yourself through your thoughts. If you control your interactions with the people who negatively impact you and you no longer talk ugly to yourself, your health will quickly improve. With the weight lifted from the dismissal of negativity in your relationships, you are suddenly free to make other healthy choices, and your purpose for making them (self-love) will make them more likely to stick.
Health is about more than what we eat and how we move, it is about loving ourselves.
This week, challenge yourself to be kinder in your inner dialogue and to spend time with people you see as making efforts to live their healthiest life. To me that looks like people taking steps (even small ones) towards loving relationships, exercising, eating mindfully, and choosing to see the good in situations. You cannot help but reflect back positivity when in it's presence.