N is for Nourish Your Body, Mind and Spirit

Part 5 in this B-A-L-A-N-C-E Your Life Series.

Public Health Dialogue: mental health and wellbeingOne of the best ways to balance your life is to nourish your body, mind and spirit. Even if you are a selfless person, deriving great joy from serving others, a little selfishness is a necessity to pause and center yourself. You do that by taking care of yourself first – your body, mind and spirit.

Nourish Your Body.  You will often hear an elder say, “Thank goodness I still have my health.” Without your health, you cannot live a full life. Part of that health includes taking care of your body through proper nutrition, hydration, exercise and rest. Take stock of what you put into your body. Healthy dining – and recipes – are readily available and abundant. Most major metropolitan cities and even small towns feature weekly Farmer’s Markets, delivering fresh produce to consumers. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs allow you to purchase a share or half share of a local farmer’s seasonal produce. Farm to table – it doesn’t get any fresher than that.

Now look at what you do to your body. How physically active are you? My father’s generation did everything themselves. They were more physically active completing day-to-day tasks. He mowed the lawn every week. He lived to be almost 88. Today, much physical activity has been delegated to others to do: Laundry, cleaning the house, washing the car, lawn and garden care, interior and exterior home repairs. Back in my Dad’s time, each of those activities brought with it a certain amount of daily physical fitness. Today, that delegation can sometimes mean physical inactivity or complacency.

Last, look at how much rest you need. When you are finished with the day’s activities, are you getting enough sleep? Every person’s needs are slightly different. I learned how to nap when I was in nursery school. The habit of napping carried me through college. It still serves me well today. If you want to know how much sleep your body truly needs, then try this on a weekend: Don’t set the alarm. See how much time your body needs to feel fully refreshed. What new habit will help you to nourish your body?

Nourish Your Mind. Beyond keeping your body physically active, you must also keep your mind alert and active. Keeping your mind active is important to your overall wellbeing, especially as you age. Here are a few of my favorite ways to nourish your mind: Find a quiet place and meditate. Enjoy a stimulating conversation with someone (not just the usual “What did you do this weekend?” question. Discuss deeper issues). Learn something new every day. Activate your right brain (creative thinking, dreaming) and your left brain (problem solving, analyzing). Engage your brain with puzzles and word jumbles. One of my favorite brain health apps is LumosityWhat new habit will help you to nourish your mind?

Nourish Your Spirit. Beyond your human, physical being is your spiritual being, that part of you that puts you in touch with the life force that is bigger than you. Some call it God, Allah, Buddha, The Great Spirit, or simply The Universe. The New Age movement of the 1960s and 1970s pushed open the thinking about blending  science and spirituality to create a more unified, holistic way of thinking and being. For me, the connection to my spiritual side comes from time spent away from any usual day-to-day activities that allows me to spend time alone in retreat and quiet reflection. My greatest spiritual companion is nature. A walk in nature helps to anchor me and remind me about what is most important in life. What new habit will help you to nourish your spirit?

When you invest the time in yourself to nourish your body, mind and spirit, you will live a full, well balanced life.