In the fog of memory, the picture is still clear. The end of a relationship affected more than my social health. I was an emotional wreck zapped of all energy. Yet sleep was hard to come by. I caught cold after cold. As my ex and I ran a business together I had lost my job contributing to my worries. I yelled a lot at God and the universe, angry at how my life was turning out. I tried to find my self-worth in doing things and poured energy into my children, neglecting my own life. We ate poorly as eating nutritiously became a non-priority and chocolate was a staple food.
You are created whole, as body, mind and soul. The loss and grief at the end of a relationship affects every part of you. Health is more than just the absence of disease and it affects all dimensions of your life, not just your physical body. But with some attention your health can be improved.
The following 7 ways to improve your health may be of benefit to you. As with all things health, there is always the disclaimer – if symptoms persist see your doctor.
Definition of health
The World Health Organization includes physical, mental and social wellbeing in their definition of health. My favourite definition is from my nursing dictionary which says, health is a ‘dynamic process in which the individual is actively engaged in moving toward fulfilling his or her potential’ 1
It says health is a dynamic process; it is fluid and changing. It is not obtained once for life. You need to keep working on it. The individual is ‘actively engaged’ in pursuit of health. You need to be involved and responsible for your own health. The purpose of health is to fulfil your potential, to live a life of purpose.
I am writing this post not as a health or lifestyle guru, but from the combined perspective of my working life as a nurse with experience in chronic condition management and as a person who lives with a chronic condition. daily, I daily practise strategies to manage my health so I can achieve my purpose in life.
How healthy are you?
- Physical health
- Spiritual health – provides hope and meaning for life
- Relational health – our connection to others
- Emotional health – our reaction to the stresses of life
- Mental health – encompasses our self-esteem and our thinking processes
Some might call the combination of emotional and mental health, your psychological health.
The Church Health Centres ‘Model for Healthy Living’ has 7 dimensions for a healthy life. The following shows how they connect with the 5 areas mentioned above.
Spiritual = Faith Life in Model for Healthy Living
Physical = Movement and Nutrition in Model for Healthy Living
Mental and Emotional = Emotional in Model for Healthy Living
Relational = Family and Friends in Model for Healthy Living
The additional two dimensions in the Model for Healthy Living are Work and Medical.
Work is not just what you do to earn your pay. It is engaging your gifts not just your employment. Work is being a valued and active member of your community life.
Medical covers your partnership with professionals in managing medical conditions. It’s when you are empowered and informed to be able to self-manage any chronic conditions.
7 ways to improve your health
- Take a step to improve your spiritual health. Deal with any negative emotions. Do something that makes your soul sing. If you are a Christian, connect with God.
- Take a step to improve your relational health. Know who you are and what you want from a relationship. Be reciprocal. Commit to connecting with others.
- Take a step to improve your mental health. Improve your self-esteem. Monitor and control your thought life Choose what influences you and choose how you react to circumstances and people.
- Take a step for your emotional health. Deal with emotions such as anger, depression and fear, firstly admitting that you have them link. Try journaling as way of releasing your feelings onto paper to help you sort through and identify them and express your hurts without lashing out at others. Talk to someone, either a friend or a professional counsellor. Learn specific strategies.
- Take a step for your physical health. You are probably overloaded with information on exercise and nutrition from which you can choose a step. Or you can look for ways to bring rest and relaxation to reverse the stress response in your life and schedule them into your calendar: e.g. a massage, meditation, prayer, warm bath. Maybe a date with yourself!
- Take a step to ensure you care for all areas of your health and have balance between them. Don’t just focus on what is easy or what dominates your life. Some people at the end of a relationship cover their grief with exercise, becoming the gym junkie and not caring for other aspects of their health.
- Take a step to balance between caring for others and caring for yourself. This is a challenge for single parents. This may mean learning how to use boundaries and limits, or sharing the load with someone else, or taking time to invest in self-care.
Putting legs on it
Take one step. And don’t forget to laugh and play.
Model for Healthy Living http://chreader.org/model-healthy-living/
- Miller, B.F. and Keane, C.B. (1987) Encyclopedia and dictionary of medicine, nursing, and allied health – fourth edition. B. Saunders Company, U.S.A, , p542