Essentials for a Healthy Life
I had the privilege the other night to meet with some gentlemen I mentor as leaders. We were discussing what “The Healthy Leader” looks like. What we talked about was so well-received that I thought I would share some of the essentials (adapted for a more general audience) with you. We were talking about the importance of Emotional Health, Spiritual Health, Professional Health, and Physical Health. Here are a few insights.
Emotional Health – Sometimes we need to go back to go forward. We need to deal with the hurts that have been given to us by others, forgive those folks, and move on. We cannot allow the hurts of the past to be the anchor that weighs us down and keeps us from being healthy people. We need to be certain that our relationships with others are rooted in the highest integrity – and if applicable that includes our spouse, our family, our church family, and others. We need to follow the instructions of Ephesians 4:15 and “speak the truth in love.” And very importantly, we need to keep “short accounts,” meaning that we need to quickly deal with the wrongs we have done or the wrongs done to us. Continuing in Ephesians 4:26, we should “not let the Sun go down while we are still angry.”
Spiritual Health – This must form the bedrock of our lives. As the old pilgrims used to say, “I must see past me to get to Thee.” We need to remove ourselves from the throne of our lives and put Jesus there. Our spiritual health will thrive when we are engaged in genuine Bible study and we are constantly developing and practicing a life of vibrant prayer. Genuine accountability is essential to our spiritual health, and this cannot be perfunctory, but meaningful, allowing those that hold us accountable to ask us tough questions and dig deeply into our lives. Also, essential to our spiritual health is the biblical concept of “sabbath” where we take the time, as God did following creation, to rest, recover, and recreate.
Professional Health – Along with those who employ us or oversee us, we need to come up with a set of realistic expectations for ourselves and determine a reasonable number of hours that we will devote to work. We need to maintain some agreed upon boundaries and create margin in our lives so that we are not working in a state of perpetual crisis. Additionally, we must continue to develop as lifelong learners and have a deep desire to learn new things and to improve. We also need to remember, particularly in our work realm, that we are the only ones who can make the changes in our lives that are necessary to live a professionally healthy life.
Physical Health – We need to be attentive to the pillars of health in our lives. Those include, but are not limited to: Water, sleep, food, exercise, and stress reduction. In terms of water (the drink of champions) we need to take our body weight, divide it by 2, and then be certain that we take in that amount of water on a daily basis. We need to sleep, preferably 7-8 hours on a consistent basis. New discoveries are constantly being made about the importance of “sleep health.” In terms of food, our eating plan needs to be made of up lots of plants (vegetables and fruit). We need to eat whole grains and take as much of our food as possible in an unprocessed form. We need to avoid fried foods, minimize sugar consumption, and eat as much of our food “farm to table” as we possibly can. God created us to move. We need 30 minutes, at least 5 times a week, of exercise. We need to find something in the area of exercise that we enjoy and do it consistently. As we get older, we need to stretch, do strength training, and include resistance work. We need to take the steps that are necessary (prayer, progressive muscle relaxation, listening to music, etc.) to reduce the stress in our lives.
Don’t be overwhelmed! You eat the elephant one bite at a time. Why not consider taking one area and concentrating on that? You may wish to make changes and tweaks in areas where there is “low hanging fruit” in your life. Be a healthy person on every level – and most importantly – a healthy follower of Jesus.