How’s your inner life? We often hear messages about how it’s important to tend to all parts of your life – family, friends and self alike. Sometimes we just need to learn to relax a little, but it’s worth spending some time thinking about your priorities, your daily schedule and the things you’re spending time on. It’s not hard to let things get out of balance – but the good news is it’s not hard to put them back.
It goes without saying that your physical health is the foundation of your mental health. This doesn’t mean you need to be a fitness junkie, rather that it’s important to have a baseline of good health in all aspects of your life.
And the good news is it’s not hard to achieve: a half-hour of light exercise every day, combined with a good diet (no overeating), lots of water and plenty of sleep is a small commitment that will bring big benefits.
Of course, if you want to throw in yoga, running, cross-training, weights, sport, a specialized diet (etc.) then you’ll see further benefits. The Inner West has some unique ways to keep fit but at the very least, keep your body in motion and don’t weigh it down with too much food.
This can be harder to manage than your physical health, in part because it’s largely invisible. But there are ways to tell if you’re mentally or emotionally under the weather.
If you’re taking care of your body (at least as mentioned above) but still feel tired and listless, or grumpy and agitated, then you need to take some time out for yourself. A walk can be a big help but more broadly, it’s good to keep your mind occupied. Read a book, take up a hobby, work in the garden … the key is to focus on something other than yourself.
A boost to mental health that’s often overlooked is getting involved in your community. Whether it’s a church group or a club, charity work or volunteering, communal activities have proven time and again to be a great way to put balance back into your life while contributing to a local community.
It’s easy to overlook, but your home can make a great contribution to your health and well-being. Is it dark, unventilated and cluttered? Better for it to be light, airy and sparse. Space is a great luxury, especially in the Inner West, and while you don’t need to get rid of everything but a bed, table and chair, a round or two of decluttering can work wonders.
Similarly, make use of your outdoor spaces, especially as we head into the warmer months. We all know sunlight is important for well-being and having some greenery – whether a backyard or a few well-chosen potted plants – can make your home much more pleasant.
Bringing it all together
What does a happy, healthy life look like? It looks like a life in balance. Work hard by all means, but not too hard for too long – it’s important to have time and space in your life to enjoy the fruits of your labours.
If you find your job is making big demands, then do what you can through the day to take care of yourself. Read a book on the train rather than watching videos (it’s much more relaxing). Go for a walk at lunchtime. Take healthy lunches and snacks, or at least avoid eating unhealthy take-aways.
And always, always, always, take time out for friends and family. They’re our anchors – without them, we run the risk of drifting away from the things that really matter. And that’s the most unhealthy thing of all.