Do You Balance Your (Health) Bank Account?
I’ll venture to say that any adult who earns an income is familiar with balancing a bank account. For most of us the goals are simple: Stay within your budget, don’t spend too much in any one area and of course, don’t end up in the red.
When I speak with my clients about their health and wellness, I often liken their overall health to a bank account. Our health is comprised of many components: In addition to our nutrition and wellness, it also includes how we move, think and interact with others. How we live greatly impacts our health.
The positive balance in our ‘health account’ depends on the lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves. ‘Withdrawals’ from our account often look like high stress, inadequate sleep, and inconsistent food and alcohol intake. Deposits are things that make us healthier, such as eating whole foods, moving our bodies, spending time outdoors, and taking time to rest. This concept extends to our spiritual wellness as well. Do our regular behaviors and habits bring us closer to God or further apart? Think of what we can begin incorporating into our life that will help us become the best version of ourselves.
This short list of intentional practices and insights can help ensure your account flourishes. I invite you to consider what you can ‘afford’, where you can cut back on your spending and how you can begin depositing more into your life:
Lifters vs. Drainers: Make a list of who in your circle lifts you up and who drains you dry. Do you feel yourself tense up when making plans with a certain friend? Are you spending too much time with those who don’t align with your beliefs and values? Do you leave feeling drained rather than lifted? These things can rob you of energy and peace. Invest in meaningful relationships.
Life Enhancing vs. Life Detracting: Identify your daily habits and activities and consider how they are enhancing or detracting from your life. While not showing up to your job may not be the responsible choice, aim to add in a fulfilling activity or practice to your schedule to offset some of life’s stressors. The seemingly small practices can make a huge difference. Consider unplugging from screens an hour before bed, dedicating time to connect with loved ones, or giving thanks before a meal. These easy rituals will pay off in dividends.
Gain clarity on your weekly budget: Choose a day of the week--I suggest Sundays--to analyze your budget for the week, month and near future. Take note of the busy weekend next month or the jam-packed work deadlines in the week ahead and strategize your lifestyle--nutrition, rest, movement, prayer--so that you set yourself up for success instead of overwhelm. Go into you day, week, vacation knowing how much you can spend results in less stress, clarity and empowerment.
Save up!: If you have a vacation on the horizon, remember that just as you had to save and prepare for a getaway, you’ll need to do the same thing with your health. Sleep more, eat clean before your trip (consider doing a mini reset leading up to and coming back from), so you can enjoy your time away without overdrawing on your account. If your stress is through the roof, you haven’t slept for days, and you’ve indulged more than you wanted to, your spending money is gone before you even arrive! Begin your vacation with an excess to spend instead of falling deeper into the red.
Redefine as you go: Don’t be too dogmatic in identifying what qualifies as a withdrawal vs. deposit. This can change depending on the context: Regular wine consumption may be a withdrawal, but enjoying a drink during a date night with your significant other may be a deposit.
Decide from a place of empowerment: Whether you’re out to dinner, on vacation, entering a holiday weekend, or trying to decide between taking a rest day or doing an intense workout, take the pressure off of yourself and stop relying on willpower. There is no ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Instead, use the facts to make a confident decision--what is your balance? Do you have enough to stay out late?
Hold a higher perspective: While balancing our health account is extremely important, our intentions and actions count for eternity. Kindness, love, forgiveness, generosity, empathy--these are the deposits that resonate in deeper ways that we can’t begin to imagine. Take stock of your heart and choose the footsteps that lead you closer to God and true wellness.
There are so many options, temptations and opportunities to indulge/celebrate/wallow/zone out. Rather than get trapped in the cycle of these options—such as overeat, feel horrible, overeat because you feel horrible—take control of your choices by re-framing them with this concept. Manage withdrawals so we don’t end up bankrupt—overtrained, under recovered and sleep deprived, but rather well rested, energized and aligned with the best we have to offer.