Help Setting Healthy Goals

Ideas for healthy living… they don’t always stick

The transition from the end of one year into the next is a good time to reflect on the past, present, and future. This may involve celebrating the good, mourning the bad, and dreaming of what could come. We are all familiar with New Year’s resolutions. Some people look forward to brainstorming goals and challenging themselves. Others are easily frustrated and guilt ridden after setting resolutions only to fall by the wayside a week or month later. But, I want to shake us up! Let’s shift our focus from New Year’s resolutions to an ongoing, underlying commitment towards cultivating healthy lives.

Something I have referred to in previous posts is the idea that each of us have particular domains that make up our health as humans. These domains are physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. These domains give us a framework for where we can cultivate and seek to grow. They are each interconnected so growing in one can increase growth and health in others.

Here are some ideas in each area I hope spur you on to cultivating your healthy life:

Physical – This is often the area we focus on most and turns into an area we feel so much guilt or shame about. You are the expert of your own needs and health. What would be a unique challenge to you? Incorporating 30 minutes throughout the week of intentionally moving around whether walking, going upstairs, jogging, or stretching can be a good jumping off point. Perhaps working your way through a cookbook could be a great way to eat not just healthy but tasty food. Maybe you are doing too much. Rest is just as important as being active. What gets your blood pumping or improves energy and vitality? Are you getting enough sleep? Get creative with your physical side.

Mental – This area is closely connected with the physical as our mental activity is housed in our physical brain. It is well known that physical exercise is a great way to increase the health of your brain and can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Perhaps finding a local yoga studio or videos online could help bring an improved state of calm and mindfulness to your life. A daily practice you could use is a simple breathing exercise. Breathing exercises brings more oxygen to your brain which helps to regulate processes within the brain. Each of us have an optimal level of mental energy that varies from person to person. Will having some time in silence and solitude refuel your tank? Go for it—go for doing nothing!

Emotional – I’ve written previously about the importance of paying attention to our emotions. Being honest with ourselves about how we feel reveals a ton about our values and desires in life. They also help us connect in relationships. A good way to begin paying attention is simply to take a couple times each day to stop what you are doing and ask yourself what is going on? What are the factors contributing to how you feel in the present moment? You could even take a day each week to reflect on, and journal the emotional theme of the week. Opening up with a trusted friend could help you wade through difficult feelings. Where have you neglected and put away your emotions? Your-self?

Social – Whether introverted or extroverted we are made for, and thrive in intimate relationships. The number of these relationships, frequency of connecting, and quality differ for everyone. What steps could you take to maintain and improve connections with others? This could look like scheduling a lunch with a good friend every other week or month. How about your marital relationship? Intentionally setting aside time to be with your spouse can be hard to come by after a long day at work and children running amuck. Perhaps planning a short window of downtime each day to catch up with each other would be helpful. Regular date nights without children or the whole gang can also increase the bonds of intimacy. There are many ideas you pull out if you take a minute to get creative.

Spiritual – If our emotions reveal our values and desires in life, the spiritual domain shapes them. We have talked about relationship with self and others. What about relationship with God? Being made in His image, God is our ultimate signpost, north-star, and foundation. The more we get to know ourselves, others, and God the more we gain a better sense of identity, purpose, and motivation. Regular prayer and meditation are great ways to actively participate in relationship by simply “being” with God, letting yourself be known, and knowing Him. Relating with others in this way can also be helpful. Perhaps you have a trusted friend, mentor, or pastor you can make time to ask questions, learn from, and encourage. Is your spiritual world limping? How can you support yourself and start to grow strong?

In short, what do you think about these different domains of health? Your answer to this question is vital for you to cultivate a healthy life… You can do it. Slowly, purposefully, realistically, relationally.

Your cultivation is your own. We have universal needs but different seasons call for different attention for each person. What I need to work on in my life is different from what you need right now. How we go about achieving the same goal may be different as well. After you have made it your own, let it be known to a trusted friend. Then you are able to learn and grow together.

Need help crafting your own plan of cultivation? Let us know how we can help.

By Spencer Griffin

Paul Loosemore