Doctor, Doctor: Your Physical Health

Young people runningYou don’t feel good, so you snap at your spouse. You’re tired, so you make a quick unwise decision you later regret. You wake up with a headache, so you try to sleep in, and skip your morning quiet time.

Our physical health impacts every other area of our lives. If you are in shape, at a healthy weight, with good nutrition, and well rested, you are a comparatively formidable force against any obstacle in your way. You will have the mental energy to be creative and efficient at work, be fully present for your spouse and children, problem-solve well in a crisis, and have the spiritual energy to grow in your relationship with God.

On the other hand, if you are sick and tired, overweight, full of junk food, and never exercise, you have no reserve to handle even the “normal” stuff life throws at you. With no energy to draw on your work productivity will decrease, your personal relationships will be contentious, your mind will function more slowly in a crisis, and you won’t have any strength left for spiritual growth.

That may sound a little simplistic, and perhaps it is. There are certainly other factors that play into your work productivity, mental creativity, relationship health, and spiritual vitality. And we’ll talk more about them in further episodes in this series. But your physical health plays a huge role in how well you function in every other area.

Doubt the truth of that? Consider Brigham Young University’s study of over 20,000 workers, showing in dramatic fashion that failure to follow such health habits as eating fruits and vegetables and exercising were strongly associated with loss of employee productivity at work.

Ask yourself some simple questions such as:

  • How likely are you to have a heart-to-heart with your teenager about a sensitive topic after feeling stuffed from an unhealthy dinner?
  • How will you respond to your spouse if you’ve got a truly nasty headache?
  • How well will you hear from God about a serious decision if you’re exhausted and anxious?

Sure, we can sometimes push ourselves to act “right” even when we don’t feel well. And mature people often do just that. But how much better to give yourself a fighting chance! You will be so much better able to handle the “stuff” of life if you care for yourself well physically.

Most of us have a fairly good general idea of what we need to change to live healthier. Sure, there are things we still need to learn. But our much bigger problem is living up to what we already know.

Here are a few questions you can use to do a quick “checkup” of your physical health and lifestyle:

  1. Am I eating a variety of minimally processed foods, with the majority of my nutrition coming from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and unprocessed low-fat meats?
  2. Am I getting some physical exercise most days of the week?
  3. Am I paying attention to the physical and mental rest periods my body needs?
  4. If I don’t know how to care for my body, am I searching for the help or information I need?
  5. Am I caring enough for my body to get medical care when I need to, and to follow appropriate professional advice?

I know what area I most need to work on. What’s yours?

Your turn: How does your physical health, or lack thereof, affect your relationships, work life, or emotional state? What can you do to improve your lifestyle in the area of physical health? I’d love to hear from you.

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