Health is important. Chances are, if you’re a regular MindBodyGreen reader, I don’t need to tell you this. You likely eat a clean diet (relatively speaking), practice some yoga, and are generally conscious about your physical wellbeing. But, here’s something many health-conscious people don’t talk about: being a “health nut” doesn’t always translate to being well. Why? Because when we become obsessed with health, it becomes an end rather than a means.
 
Health is useful insofar as it brings us greater peace, ease, and freedom in our daily lives. The moment it starts to become a source of stress, struggle, and self-imposed limitation, our relationship with being healthy stops serving us and starts to do the very thing it’s intended to counteract, which is to cause stress.
 
I’ve been there, trust me. I know what it’s like to think: If only I strive a little harder to eat the “right” foods and incorporate all the correct healthy habits into my daily regimen, my life will fall into place and that happiness, elusive as it is, will finally be within reach. But, this is an illusion, and a pervasive one at that, as it’s hard to fathom that the pursuit of health can cause anything but positive change. Unfortunately, no matter how positive something may sound in theory, when we approach it from a place of fear, self-conflict, or struggle, it contributes to stress rather than joy.
 
Here are some essential questions to ask yourself if you ever have fallen into the health obsession trap:
  • Is my relationship to living healthy causing me stress or ease?
  • When I think of health, does it make me anxious in any way?
  • Do I ever berate myself for not being healthy enough or not eating correctly?
  • Do I ever make myself feel badly in the name of “health” by judging my slip ups or by yoyo-ing from healthy to unhealthy?
  • Am I approaching wellness from a place of peace with myself? Or do I feel self-conflict?
  • Have I found acceptance where I am? Or do I cling to the illusion that I can accept myself and my circumstances only when I perfect my healthy living habits?
Nothing is worth your time or effort if it causes you stress.
 
Presumably, living healthier brings you greater wellness in body, mind, and spirit. Don’t let a desire to control and perfect yourself turn your health pursuits into an exercise in self-criticism and perfectionism. The first step, therefore, is to realize just how you’re approaching health. Bringing awareness to your mental habits is the first and most important step to dissolving patterns that don’t serve you.
 
So, should you stop trying to be healthy? Not at all. This isn’t about what you do or don’t do. It’s about how you approach what you do for yourself. Whatever you strive for, do it from a place of absolute self-acceptance and gentleness. From there, everything will fall into place. The road to wellness will become smooth and enjoyable rather than rigid and stressful.
 
Essentially, it all comes down to this: what’s more important than anything else is whether or not you’re happy with you, right here and now. Once you can do that, everything will follow.
 

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