My personal introduction to Health Coaching was through nutrition, and many people assume this is at the core of any health program, but this isn’t necessarily true. Food has great power to heal us, but I’ve seen, and experienced first hand, that nourishing our bodies through mindful living has greater power to heal our bodies and minds. That’s why my purpose statement on my website puts mindful living before nutrition.
The lifestyle aspects of health coaching are community, fulfillment in career, exercise, spiritual practice, sleep, relationships, play/joy and creation. The goal is to find balance and fulfillment in as many of these areas as you can, but it works best to focus on just a few at a time. So, I wanted to share my recent thoughts on Relationships and Community because I’ve noticed that most people can benefit from a reminder to connect. I’m one of those people.
The Blue Zones
Blue Zones are areas where people live uncommonly long, active, healthy, happy lives. Many of the probable factors contributing to their lack of deterioration in later years are on the list of healthy lifestyle factors listed above. Why do they live long? One vital factor: Community and social connection.
Many of these communities have multi-generational households. Families stick together, and people are surrounded by social support their entire lives. They’re stuck with them, but they’re blessed by them because they’ll never suffer from loneliness.
We need each other. We need physical contact. Staying close together instead of creating distance from things like the internet and studio apartments affords us better health. Our communities are interconnected through technology but most of our time spent with others is at work where we don’t get the social connection our souls desire.
Smart People Did a Study
A Harvard study on happiness that has run for 75 years, says that close, quality relationships are the key. “Over and over in these 75 years,” Dr. Waldinger said, “our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships with family, with friends and with community.”
A good relationship contributes so much to our well-being and a bad one can do just the opposite. We can have fond memories and daily support, or we can have daily stress from butting heads and distance ourselves only to end up lonely. Which sounds better? Which do you think leads to better happiness/health?
Strong relationships can also impact the other lifestyle factors because they would likely lead to more sharing of ideas and positive experiences. So we’d be smarter and more prepared, and we’d laugh and smile more often.
If we don’t have strong relationships and social support through every year of life, we are missing out. We all need physical contact like hugs, and to feel deep connection with others. When community is lacking in our lives, we’ll feel the need to compensate. Whether or not we know it, we can develop habits of filling the gaps with things like sweet food, drugs and alcohol, or retail therapy in order to stimulate the brain in ways it has missed. There’s no replacement for the real thing.
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