Welcome to Planet Earth. You, in this physical form, get one go-round. How long that will be is indeterminate based on factors inside and outside of your control.
The factors outside of your control you can do not a damned thing about. Natural disasters, mass shootings, car accidents, and other life-threatening outside occurrences can strike with no warning. That frightens the hell out of some people. But for most, it’s something you vaguely acknowledge and do all you can to avoid.
But it is important to acknowledge, and I’ll explain why up ahead.
Then there are the things that can kill you that you DO have control over. The biggest elephant in the room, as far as inside factors go, is stress.
Stress is virtually unavoidable. Some situations cause distress and uncertainty that are both inside and outside of your control. But stress happens because there are expectations, deadlines, needs to be fulfilled, time limits both real and artificial, demands, and numerous other factors that can and will stress you out.
An excess of stress leads to mental health issues. Anxiety and depression can both be readily linked to stress. That, in turn, can become physical issues. You don’t exercise, eat for comfort, smoke, drink to excess, and do and don’t do other things that cause you physical harm.
This can make you sick. While science and medicine don’t draw an exact, direct line between stress and certain physical ills, heart attacks and strokes are both known to result from stress.
In other words — stress can kill you.
Handling things both inside and outside of your control can be applied to your overall health, wellness, and self-care.
Health, wellness, and self-care begins with mindfulness
It is all too easy to separate mental health, emotional health, and physical health into stand-alone matters. But they’re not. All health — mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and so on — is one single matter.
A lack or crisis of one can and will impact the rest. In our fear-based, materialistically obsessed society, crisis springs up far too readily and easily.
The best way to work with this is to work from within on yourself. And that begins with practical mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the conscious awareness, here and now, of your inner being. It is present, conscious awareness of your mindset/headspace/psyche self.
Mindfulness is informed via your six senses, as well as your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions. Being aware of your sensory input, as well as what you are thinking, how and what you are feeling, and intentions behind actions you are taking is all there is to applied mindfulness.
It is not simply thought — it’s how thought, combined with sensory input, feelings, actions, and intentions, registers with your inner being. It’s also not some mystical new-age or psychological mumbo-jumbo. Applied Mindfulness is conscious awareness, and how you perceive life, the Universe, and everything.
Conscious awareness via mindfulness of that allows you control. That control helps you see how you are caring for yourself and minding your health, wellness, and self-care. When you are mindful you can see your stressors — and take actions by making choices and decisions to cope with them, avoid them, fix them, or do whatever it takes before they embed themselves and become physical problems.
Mindfulness is how you acknowledge the potential issues outside of your control. Recognizing them can keep them from scaring you into avoiding living your life for your overall good.
Health, wellness, and self-care
Mindfulness of your stress allows you to choose and decide the best courses of action in any situation. By being mindful, you empower yourself to take preventative action and both lengthen and improve your one experience of being alive, here and now, in that body.
Health, wellness, and self-care often get neglected. They’re shunted from the important column to the unimportant column and replaced with demands, needs, and deadlines from without.
Further, they get equated with arrogance, selfishness, and negatives. Examples of this include preachers of the “prosperity gospel” raking it in — yet helping nobody but themselves; spa treatments and luxuries overwhelming the reality of self-care. Then there are other, numerous false notions and stigmas attached to mental health and wellness to complicate matters.
When seeking medical help can bankrupt you, shunting health, wellness, and self-care to the side is too easy to do. Yet it’s so important to your life experience that you need to give it mindful work.
Health, wellness, and self-care are one. Their differences are simple to see.
Health is your overall, physical state of being. We all know people who are constantly sick, easily rundown, and struggling to be healthy.
There is nothing you can do about genetics, most autoimmune diseases, and other factors of that nature. But you can work within given parameters on your diet and exercise to make the most of your health.
When you are physically healthy, you set yourself up to live a longer, fuller life. But this presents a lot of different challenges on many levels. Mindfulness of where you are at is the first step in taking charge and working with it.
Wellness is your overall mental, emotional, and spiritual health. You can have a perfect body in perfect health — but be utterly miserable. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common maladies associated with wellness.
Mental health is not treated with the same regard as physical health. But it damned well should be. When you are not in a good place mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, your overall wellness suffers. That, as mentioned above, can lead to physical illness, overall poor health, and even death.
Mindfulness is the conscious awareness that shows you the state of your mental health. And that opens you to work for yourself to change it if it’s not as you’d desire for it to be.
Self-care is NOT massages, facials, warm mud body wraps, and other indulgences, per se. They can be a special treat as a part of self-care, but they are not self-care.
Self-care is the actions you take to work on your health and wellness. It’s being mindful of diet and exercise, getting help with anxiety, depression, and other matters, and putting yourself first. Not in a selfish ignore-everyone-else way. Putting yourself first as in taking care of this one and only body you have.
Lots of people shunt self-care to the side to avoid the impression of selfishness. But it’s not. You have one go-round in that body you occupy. If you don’t care for yourself and manage your health and wellness, how long you will be here might be unnecessarily shortened by your neglect.
Sharing my practices and actions
I have been working hard to be more mindful of my health, wellness, and self-care. There are many things I still desire to do with my life — and I want to stay well, strong, and healthy so that I might do them. In the interest of that, I would like to share with you my current practices.
Presently, my wife and I are following the Mediterranean Diet.
Taken from the Mediterranean region of the world — Greece and Southern Italy, specifically — this diet puts a focus on eating more vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, and extra virgin olive oil. In moderation, you consume eggs, poultry, and dairy.
Meanwhile, you very rarely eat red meat, and avoid highly processed foods, trans fats, and added sugars.
In short — more plants, fish, and fewer processed foods.
This is no crash-diet. This is a choice of lifestyle change. We still treat ourselves to Chinese food and other less-healthy options from time to time. But I find the longer I practice the choices of this diet and lifestyle, the less I desire to partake of less healthy options.
I am consciously choosing to drink more water. Hydration is important on many levels — so I stay hydrated.
Additionally, I am exercising more regularly. I’m taking walks twice a day, frequently, and getting 10,000 steps on my FitBit. Fencing is restarting soon — so that will also contribute to my overall health.
In addition to my regular writing, I am journaling daily again. I find this helps me parse out things, analyze what bothers me, and take care of my state of being.
I am on an antidepressant. This, I find, allows me to best balance myself and my mental health.
I am applying affirmations regularly, expressing gratitude, and doing other things mindfully to stay centered and balanced.
Finally, I meditate daily. Most of the time this is for 20 minutes. This practice has done wonders for my mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
Finally, if needs be, I’m not averse to seeing a therapist. I’ve allowed my depression to sabotage me and interfere with my life in the past. Using mindfulness, I intend to not do that again. But if I need more help — I will go back to therapy.
All the practices mentioned above are part of my self-care. Additionally, I am reading daily, spending time with my wife, and playing with my cats. I’ve massively reduced how much time I spend on social media — and I do not watch the news. Still, I keep up with current affairs — but only enough to not be unaware of the world.
Self-care is the applied action to maintain health and wellness on all levels. I make time for self-care because I recognize that when I am better, it’s a lot easier to give more to those I care about. And to anyone else.
There is one final, super important point I need to make about health, wellness, and self-care.
You are worthy and deserving
You are worthy and deserving of practicing things to maintain and improve your health, wellness, and self-care. There’s no need for you to be someone or something other than you are — this is your birthright.
We all get just one opportunity to live life in these bodies. Thus, we are all entitled to doing so with the utmost health and wellbeing. So long as you maintain intentions of kindness and compassion for others in the process of caring for yourself — it’s not selfish or unworthy of you.
Self-care is not selfish. If you don’t care for yourself and your overall health and wellbeing, who will? You have one go-round in that body of yours. Maintaining your health, wellness, and self-care doesn’t just make you better. It impacts all those you care about.
You are worthy and deserving of good health and overall wellness.
Be the best you that you can be. Take care of your health, wellness, and self-care practices.