I’m on a journey to becoming a holistically healthy person, and surprisingly, it took being sick to make me realize my progress.
Being unwell is something I despise. The drain of energy, joy, and inspiration, the disruption of my daily rhythms, and the sense of letting people down—it's a party pooper for someone wired to move, achieve, and progress.
My recent bout of sickness, which kept me bedridden for a week, was a stark reminder. Just when I was getting into the groove for 2024 with my Word for the Year, strategic focus areas, and renewed commitments, sickness brought it all to a coughing halt.
However, amidst the disruption, there was a silver lining. Here’s what I learned: I can still be healthy when I’m sick. It was a distinction I hadn't considered before—the difference between being "unhealthy while sick" and "healthy while sick."
For me, being "unhealthy while sick" has historically looked like pushing through sickness to maintain an appearance of strength, engaging in shows with inappropriate content for temporary comfort, indulging in whatever foods I wanted to consume, keeping my fears and feelings to myself, and blaming others.
On the other hand, a newly built-out pathway of being "healthy while sick" looks like prioritizing rest over work, engaging in shows while being personally accountable for what I watch, risking my image by asking for help and rescheduling, adjusting my expectations to what I can reasonably do, sharing my fears and feelings with those I trust, and taking personal responsibility for my actions and behaviors (e.g. if I catch myself being snappy, irritable, unreasonable).
Now I admit that this shift towards a healthier mode of living, especially in the midst of sickness, hasn’t been easy. My guard is down when I’m sick. I’m less vigilant. I’m wanting comfort. I’m more prone to simply say “whatever” and give in to whatever feels good, albeit temporarily. And if I’m honest, I kind of liked that sickness could sometimes act as a cover or excuse to enable my unscrutinized unhealthy indulgences.
You may say, “James, just give yourself a break.” “You’re being too hard on yourself.”
Well, let me be clear that I'm not advocating for superhero efforts during sickness. But even as an imperfect human being, I’m not going to allow situations such as sickness to be an excuse for me to engage in activity that is detrimental to myself, my relationships, and my future.
So here’s the hope. If we can learn to still be healthy in a situation like sickness, it is possible to choose health in any given situation. And when I talk about health, I’m referring to holistic health, it’s more than physical fitness. It involves emotional awareness, spiritual intimacy, relationships, and vulnerability.
So how do we move towards holistic health and away from unhealth?
Well, it’s a nuanced discussion, and each person must ultimately answer it for themselves. For example, a certain Netflix show that has no perceived negative impact on your body, mind, and spirit may, in contrast, launch me into fantasy, self-indulgence, and unhealthy acting out (cue the debate on the value of watching Game of Thrones!).
But to get you moving in a healthier direction, I offer you this helpful distinction that I learned. Procrastination and isolation are markers of unhealth, while proactivity and connection move us towards health. In other words, when we are being proactive with identifying our fears and feelings and choosing to reach out to others in any situation, that’s usually an indicator we are moving in a healthier direction.
Friend, as you are faced with a variety of situations this year, here’s a simple “health-check” question you can ask yourself: Am I procrastinating and isolating or am I being proactive and connecting with others?
With you on your journey towards whole-of-life success and true health in 2024.
Over To You
How do you typically respond to sickness in terms of habits and choices?
In what ways can you distinguish between "unhealthy while sick" and "healthy while sick" in your own life?
3. Are procrastination and isolation present in your life, and if so, how they impact your way of being and success?
I've love to hear what's on your mind, whether a thought or a question. I read all emails and will respond as appropriate. Message me email@example.com
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Image Source: Edward Jenner