True health is like a collage of different paints on an artists palette. When mixed correctly, the paints merge together create the desired look and feel. Being physically fit is a key factor to health, but the importance of tapping into our own unique character strengths, taking adequate rest and relaxation, eating wholesome nourishing food, immersion in nature and creating positive social engagement with those around us completes the circle – no one thing on it’s own is quite enough.
Everyone is unique and there are many different areas in life that make up good health. So you need to take into consideration a broad spectrum of influences that contributes to your wellbeing – as a starting point look at the suggestions below:
- Creating rapport between your mind and body – one of the best approaches when you are involved in any movement based activity such as running, cycling, climbing etc is to get into the habit of deep practise.
This means being fully present in the moment, from observing the rhythm of your breath to bringing attention to how your body is moving in space. By doing this you gradually make the neural circuits that connect the brain and the body stronger due to focused attention. There is a saying that nerves that fire together wire together and this is the case in deep practise movement. Its the same philosophy behind mediation. Focus on the breath and the present moment and your neural connections become stronger.
- Connecting with nature and awakening the senses – go running, walking, biking in the countryside. I challenge anyone to not feel alive on a bright sunny day in the woods
- Physical fitness and moving with efficiency and purpose – hugely important to wellbeing and a sense that, physically, you can deal with life
- Choosing nutritious real food – not out of a packet
- Regular deep rest and relaxation – make time for this, the importance cannot be underestimated
- Maintaining a consistent state of internal peace – so learning how to deal with stress, which is inevitable in life
- Rediscovering personal character strengths and utilising them in daily life – this gives you a sense of personal reassurance and connection to yourself and others
The idea of engaging with nature and the evolutionary principles that kept us lean and fit for thousands of years is something we’ve recently got back in touch with. Many companies and fitness professionals focus on getting you outside to keep fit, which is a great alternative following a full day in the office. And it works too. It gives you an energy boost and inspires you in a way that’s hard for any gym to compete with. Organised outdoors fitness sessions tap into the movement towards a reconnection with nature that has gathered momentum over the past decade with activities such as foraging, camping, wild swimming and barefoot running.
So if you’d like to try this for yourself, here are some of our tips on re-wilding yourself:
- Find a purpose to attach to your movement. Whether you want to learn a new skill, such as to run with good form or swim underwater for two minutes, or to master a specific move (such as a handstand) because it inspires you, having a reason that goes beyond getting a six-pack will help.
- Go into the red zone of training intensity once or twice a week for 15-30 seconds with intervals of recovery in-between for an overall period of between 8-20minutes. Our ancestors needed to sprint, occasionally, to hunt or flee, and that’s the type of fat-burning exercise that suits most bodies.
- Move more. Take the stairs. Go for a walk. Or do animal-style movements, such as a bear crawl or frog-jumps.
- Take your shoes off inside your home and strengthen those little muscles in your feet. It will help everything work further up the chain.
When it comes to combining nature with fitness and indeed general wellbeing, Edward O Wilson coined the term “Biophillia” which proposes there’s an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems, be that animals, birds or fauna. This would seem to make sense and it could be argued that only since the agricultural revolution have we built fences to keep the natural world at bay. For the millennia before we were just another species that was part of natures make up. In order for us to survive we had to live in harmony with the rhythms of the wild or else we might end up as dinner for a hungry lion.
One of the challenges of the modern world is that we have become increasingly disconnected from our physical bodies and the natural environment that surrounds us. This due to urbanisation and the constant flow of external stimuli. Being able to experience “wild moments” allows us to fully reengage with our senses, illuminating the primal DNA that lies within us and which can help restore a healthy relationship with our physical bodies and realign ourselves with nature.
Actively seeking out wild moments in our daily life can only be a good thing. It doesn’t mean we have to up sticks and move into a tree house (though that might be fun). Just being aware of what’s around us and really immersing ourselves in that moment can be beneficial. A prime example of this is getting outdoors when ever possible. Not only does it feel great to move our bodies in nature but also we put ourselves in an optimal state for really opening our senses and experiencing a deep connection with the environment that surrounds us and connecting with Biophillia.
So, next time you’re feeling like you need some time out, head for the great outdoors and put some wildness back into your day. It could be just the mood enhancer you’re looking for.
Coming up in the next few weeks on The Life Adventure is a brand new series on this very subject from Nick Michell from Uber Wellbeing. Sign up for updates or keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages where we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.