Health is More Than Just Physical

At one point in the movie The Princess Bride, the Count invites Prince Humperdinck to join him in torturing Westley. The Prince declines, saying he has too much to do, and the Count says, “Get some rest. Without your health, you haven’t got anything.”

I agree, but with a caveat. Health isn’t just about the physical side of things.

Even if you get enough sleep every night… eat lots of fruits and vegetables… get in some cardio and strength exercises…. and stay hydrated – you still might not be healthy.

I realized recently that I’d lost sight of this since the pandemic hit. These days, physical health is certainly top of mind, and it’s important. But we also need to focus on our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

Oddly enough, it was the show Supernatural that got me thinking about this again. Last week I started catching up on the final season, and one of the episodes made me realize I’d been neglecting certain aspects of my health, particularly creativity, true relaxation, and connection with friends.

Creativity

In the Supernatural episode, one of the characters was complaining that he’d been feeling lost and couldn’t figure out why. Another character asked what made him happy, and he said, “Writing.”

So she pointed out the obvious to him. “Then, Chuck, you have to write.”

This struck me because I haven’t been writing lately. Oh, I’ve been writing these blog posts, and some things for my church, and plenty of emails and work-related things. But not creative writing, or writing that I want to do because it makes me happy.

I also haven’t picked up my flute in months, and even though I’d had visions of doing some drawing during this pandemic time, it hasn’t happened.

But creativity is very important to our emotional and spiritual health. It gives us an outlet for emotions we might not otherwise be able to express. It allows our minds to wander in different directions and find solutions for things we might have missed.

I’ve been inspired by my friend Dawn, who’s been drawing a lot lately – here’s one of her creations from early October.



And after the Supernatural episode, I’ve been reminded that I need to make time for some amount of creative writing because, like Chuck, it’s one of the things that makes me happy. Even if no one else sees what I write, it’s still important for me to do.

For you, creativity might be something completely different. It could be cooking, or gardening, or knitting, or any number of other things. But if you’ve also been feeling stuck in a rut lately, think about if you’re missing out on creativity.

Relaxation

I also realized recently that I haven’t had time for true relaxation in a while, time that I set aside for nothing else.

It always seems like there’s something to do. It could be work, responding to emails, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, volunteer activities – the list goes on. You probably have your own list, with plenty of things on it.

Along with this, I’ve noticed that I’m going to bed even earlier than usual because I read for a while before going to sleep. It’s one of the few times where I’m doing something purely for myself, that I enjoy, and I was so eager to get to it that I was turning in early.

But this begs the question, why is that the only time I’m reading for pleasure? Do I really have to do all those things on my list – or can I at least organize my time so that I have at least one afternoon a week where I don’t have any responsibilities?

That’s my new goal. I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I want to schedule some time for myself that’s a true sabbath, where I’m not going to do anything that feels even remotely work-like.

Connection

I’ve also been missing seeing people in person. You might be, too. It’s challenging with so many worries about what’s safe, but now that it’s getting colder out, I’ve been trying to make a point of a few last opportunities for in-person connection.

Last weekend, for example, I went to the Maine Wildlife Park with my family, where we got to visit while also seeing lots of great animals.

Today, I’m going to visit with my friend Dawn and her family at a park in New Hampshire for a couple of hours. It’s been almost a year since I saw them, though I normally spend a weekend at their house a couple of times a year, and we’ve all missed that connection.

And next weekend, I’m hoping to go visit another friend and pick some apples.

I know that in-person visits don’t work with everyone, but making those connections a priority is becoming increasingly important to me.

What keeps you healthy?

Physical health is important, but it’s not the only kind of health. Finding creative outlets, making time to relax, and visiting with friends are just a few examples of what can keep someone healthy in non-physical ways.

The key is to pay attention to your own mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and find what works for you. You may not be able to spend a lot of time on all of these, but making all aspects of your health a priority will pay off in the long run.

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