You’ve heard the stories – the cyclist who ate plenty of lean meats and vegetables and trained daily who died of a heart attack. The party animal who has a clean bill of health year in and year out. I’m sure you’ve even experienced at one point – you’ve eaten “healthy” and prioritized your exercise, and still felt like junk.
The idea of health has been jaded over the years, taken over by the idea that our physical appearance is the only true representation of our health. If this was true, and our health was only based on exercise and eating, cases like the above this wouldn’t exist. People would be happier, healthier and more content when they hit their physical goals (which isn’t always the case).
This is where deep health comes into the picture – it’s when all the different domains of health are in sync. I refer to these domains as the six pillars of health – the six foundations on which your health and wellness are built. When we focus on only one or two of them, the others can end up neglected. But when we’re doing something in each of them, then we can start moving towards deeper health – mentally, physically and spirituality.
The 6 pillars of health
Your spirituality, sense of purpose and meaning in life sit within this pillar.
Do you feel satisfied in your life, and do you move with purpose? Do you have hobbies, and make time for the things that you enjoy and “fill your cup”?
Rest & Recovery
In this day and age, it’s easy to glorify “busy”, but the truth is our bodies and our minds need regular down time in order to function properly. If you’ve ever said to yourself “I really need a holiday”, then you know how true this is.
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking time for recreational activities and do you take time off from your responsibilities in a way that recharges you?
How your body moves and functions is important to your vitality and health, and strengthening your joints and ligaments allows you to perform daily tasks with more ease.
Do you make exercise and movement a priority? What types of movement are you doing? Do you sit at a desk all day and what is your mobility like?
Eating a good balance of nutrients through lean protein sources, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, grains and legumes gives your body the nutrients it needs to heal and recover from daily life.
How are you nourishing your body? Do you enjoy the food that you eat and do you feel satisfied by it? What is your relationship with food like?
Routine & Boundaries
When you don’t have a routine or boundaries, you tend to drift around your daily life like a plastic bag in the ocean – you get taken whichever way the tide goes. Setting a solid routine, and sticking to it, can help you manage your time and your stress more effectively.
How are you spending your time? Are you giving too much of yourself to others? How are you managing your stress? Do you say yes to every invite, proposal or task that comes across your desk?
Mindset & Mental Health
The importance of mental health has come into the light more recently, and with good cause. Looking after your mental well-being is as important as taking care of your physical self.
How do you handle obstacles in life? How do you relate to yourself and others? Are you always stressed or anxious? What are your thoughts on therapy?
All of these elements are deeply connected. Improving one of these pillars can also improve another – for example, you might find that the more you exercise, the less stress you have and the better you’re able to handle your work during the day. This also means that if one area is currently out of whack (like you can’t train because you have an injury), you can still know that you’re looking after your health by engaging in positive, health promoting behaviors in other areas of your life.
You aren’t always going to be able to tackle every pillar of health at once – sometimes it means movement, and sometimes it means rest. One day it can mean prioritizing tasks like a boss and other days it means saying no to everything that isn’t a cup of tea and a movie.
Your health is dynamic, and your approach should reflect that, but it also takes dedication to learn what actually works for you. When you choose to focus on deep health, rather than superficial health, you’ll see a deep transformation happen in your life.
So here’s to deep health, and focusing on health and how it relates to the bigger picture of your life.
If you’re living with an autoimmune condition and you’re looking for tools and information that guide you to finding deep health and taking back control of your healing, check out my online course, Moving Through Autoimmune.