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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about health, and particularly nutrition and exercise.

Good health is a non-negotiable. So much of what makes humans happy starts with good health.

So I want to talk about why health is so fundamental to happiness.

Interrelationship of body and mind

When our bodies aren’t well, our moods often follow, with increased irritability, short fuses, even depression. There is study after study of the different ways our bodies and our minds interact. The famous TED talk and books by Amy Cuddy grew in popularity showing how even standing in a superhero pose can change the way we feel emotionally and psychologically.

Our brains are part of our bodies. It’s all linked, so we have to care for the whole human, mind and body.

A healthy body can do more

This is so obvious it could go without saying, but I want to say it anyway.

A healthy body can wake up ready for the day. It can enjoy what’s going on around it as it needn’t be preoccupied with its own discomfort. It can go out into the world with vigour to seize the day.

For instance, connecting with others is far easier when you feel well, have energy, and have the zest and lust for life that comes with a well mind and body. Conversely it is difficult to be around others sometimes when in pain or low energy or generally unwell. If I have IBS symptoms I’m less likely to suggest meeting a friend for coffee, and I’m more likely to snap at my son for minor transgressions while I’m battling a stomach cramp.

When I’m feeling in optimal health, I have LOADS of energy. Taking the kids to the park – sure! Being silly, tickling and playing with my son – no problem! Better yet, a healthy body has the energy to do other things that continue to promote wellness, from cutting up that raw veg for a salad or doing that YouTube yoga video when you find yourself with 20 minutes at home.

Wellness begets wellness.

Seasons of life

My parents recently visited from the US. They are in better health than a lot of people their age, and as my father pointed out he’s now an age that his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather never had the benefit of reaching.

That said, I can see their struggles and the impact of health problems on their quality of life. Seeing my parents age drives home that I want to be doing more in my 70s. Not only will I likely HAVE to do more, as in I’ll likely have to work longer and retire later in life than they did, I also WANT to do more.

For me, the phrase season of life is hugely comforting, as it’s a reminder that the things I struggle with now are partly down to being a parent with two young kids. I don’t have the time or money to play tennis now, for instance, or train as a yoga instructor, because my time is so much dominated by my kids. And I love that my kids are so prominent in my life. That is the season of life I am in.

But it won’t last. We all know, they grow up so fast. When this season of life is over, and I have older kids who don’t need me as much, I hope I can look back and appreciate that I savoured my time with young kids. That I took the time to kiss my baby’s face countless times a day. That I enjoyed my five-year-old telling me he loves me and truly took the time to feel his love for me in that undiluted, confiding way young kids have.

And when they are older and demand less of me, I’ll have some time and more of my body back to me. And when that time comes, I want to grab it with both hands and wring every bit of happiness from it. Maybe I’ll take a class and learn to sew my own clothes (always an ambition of mine). Or train to run a marathon (another bucket list item).

Whatever appeals to me when the time comes, though, I want to make sure I have the energy to do it. I can better appreciate this season of life, with all its challenges and all its wonderful aspects, knowing that other seasons of life full of happiness and wonder await me.

One thought on “Health is a non-negotiable

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