When writing a menu to thrive, you have to look at the whole person. Below you will find the seven “Core Areas of Health and Wellbeing” that Menu To Thrive works with during health coaching. These seven core areas of health are for you to consider, for you to get honest about, and for you to begin to make little steps towards improving. Below, I go into detail on each one, and even though seven can seem daunting, small change in just one core area can have a huge impact on your entire being. Through my work with coaching partners, I dug into the research and literature on several of these core areas over the past year. I mention a few authors and researchers below to help better understand how vital each core area is to our health and well-being.
Is 8 hours per night the magic number? Or is it 6? Who knows as everyone is different, but sleep impacts all other aspects of our mental, physical, emotional, and social self. Are you getting consistent, adequate restful sleep? Our bodies have a biological need for sleep, this is the body’s time for renewal and regeneration. Of course the research shows many chronic diseases are associated with insufficient sleep (i.e. heart disease, diabetes, depression, obesity). Author, Brené Brown discusses in her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, that one should let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth. Do you have enough self-compassion and self-kindness to allow your body to rest?
From the American Heart Association to the Center for Disease Control, guidelines are put out every few years of how much exercise children, adults, and seniors should be getting every day. Of course, most Americans miss this mark. Movement is about being active. Regular physical movement improves overall health and dramatically reduces risks for chronic disease. From walking, to yoga, to singing and dancing in your living room, it’s all movement and it counts! Getting adequate physical activity can change your physical, mental, and emotional health. Where do you fit movement into your life?
Hippocrates is known at the “Father of Western Medicine.” He was a Greek physician that pulled medicine from the depths of religion and philosophy and made it a distinct field of science and healing. He lived until 370 BC and to this day people around the world quote him for this,
“Let food by thy medicine”
Food in our culture is commercialized, industrialized, laden with emotion, surrounded and blamed by many diseases, and comes in a box or a brightly colored package. Food can heal you or make you sick. What if nutrition was used to prevent, heal, and renew? What if nutrition was about eating whole non-processed nutritious foods? Cultures around the world who eat real, whole simple foods have incredible health benefits. What is the first step you can take to eating for your health and vibrancy?
Our physical surroundings make up our environment. The air we breath, the products we use, the physical surroundings we encompass ourselves in, and even looking more globally all make up our environment. There is a strong interconnectivity between our internal and external environments. Many times when one is thrown off, our entire self suffers. For example, you may take great care of your internal environment by eating nourishing foods and getting regular exercise, but externally you are surrounding yourself with chemicals each day due the products you put on your skin or use in your home, which is creating havoc on your internal environment and thus to your health. Think about the space that surrounds you, is your home used for clutter, junk piles, dirt, and destruction? Or is your home used for cooking, creativity, work, play, relaxation, and rest? Simply cleaning out one drawer or changing a personal care product can have substantial effects on your overall well-being.
Interacting respectfully with ourselves and others the is the foundation of healthy relationships. We are naturally social beings and healthy relationships are vital to our overall health and well-being. There are two fundamental points to interacting respectfully with ourselves. First, interacting respectfully with our authentic selves by letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and support who we are is fundamental to ones’ health. Second, interacting respectfully with ourselves is letting go of perfectionism and instead living a life by doing our best, and practicing self-compassion. Researcher and author Brené Brown talks about perfection vs. healthy striving. Healthy striving is acknowledging you are worthy of respectful relationships, you are worthy of a good night’s sleep, you are worthy of practicing self-care to improve your overall health and well-being.
Love and belonging are at the core of all human beings’ basic needs. Relationships include interacting with others by cultivating relationships that empower us, support us in living our most authentic life, and are non-judgmental and accepting. Do your friends, family, and loved ones support you in your journey or tear you down by judging, shaming, and comparing? What kind of relationships do you want to cultivate in your life?
Resiliency is the ability to overcome adversity. Resiliency is the ability to re-cover from the joys and the sorrows in life without destruction. Practicing daily stress-protective activities is what builds resiliency over time so in times of hardship we are protected and have the reserves to carry on. According to Brené Brown, the very foundation to resiliency is spirituality (see below). Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives. Hope, connection, love, and compassion are all keys to practicing resiliency as they will carry us through life’s journey. Many people begin to numb when dealing with difficult emotions, with such means as drugs, alcohol, over-eating, staying busy, affairs, perfectionism, and the list goes on. Research shows if we numb the hard emotions we numb the joyous ones too. Practicing spirituality is what brings healing, allows us to lean into the hard emotions and the joyous ones, and creates resiliency. The key to resiliency and spirituality is finding your creativity, your passion in life. Author, Elizabeth Gilbert shares in her latest book, “Big Magic,” creative living is not exclusively devoted to the arts. Creativity isn’t just for the famous writer, or a performer at Julliard, it is what is buried deep inside of us that is longing for attention. You are living creatively when you tap into what you are truly hungry for, what makes you feel alive, and then practicing this daily. Whether your self-protective resiliency practice is through meditation, prayer, church on Sunday, hiking in the mountains, fishing on a pond, painting, cooking, knitting, or quilting, it’s invaluable to your health.
The definition of spirituality is simply any kind of meaningful activity that leads to personal growth. Spirituality stated above is the key to resiliency. A spiritual practice that cultivates love and compassion for yourself and others will see you through hardships and allow you to soar through the joys. Spirituality is living a life that is grounded in your values, mission, and purpose in life. It’s not just about having values and purpose, but actually living a life that is aligned with these. Spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives. How you choose to practice spirituality is very personal. For some it’s the quiet spaces in the evening unwinding with a book, but for others it is knitting. Some find spirituality from going to church on Sunday mornings and others may find it with a daily meditation practice, but sometimes it’s simply prayer or even just a morning walk. How do you live a life aligned with your purpose and values?