We're told to feed ourselves good food... exercise regularly... avoid stress. And be it lifestyle, nutrition, or everyday habits, we're (usually) trying to do the right things for our bodies, in hopes of living longer, preventing disease, or improving our current state of health.
We go for regular check ups, get annual blood work, all to make sure our body is functioning "within normal range".
But how often do we check up with the soul? That place deep down inside where joy or happiness or contentment sits. Our state of emotional wellbeing is shown to have profound effects on our overall state of health. Whether it's referenced as the placebo effect, mindfulness, or the mind-body connection, the health industry has come to recognize the importance of healing not only the body, but the mind. Decrease stress levels, practice meditation, try yoga, be mindful.
But what if it were even simpler than that? What if I were to tell you that the chemicals your body releases when engaging in something that brings your joy can mediate pain, decrease inflammation, and of course, lower your stress response. Sometimes, the most important thing we can do for our overall state of health, is to give ourselves some good ol' fashion soul food.
When was the last time you did something that brought you joy? Inspired you? Put a smile on your face?
When was the last time you picked up a paintbrush? Hiked your favour trail? Called your best friend?
Much like they always say teachers make the worst students, doctors make the worst patients. Like many, I find it easy to forget about self-care when we're so wrapped up in all the other things we need to take care of. Our own needs often take the bottom of the list.
So I recently prescribed myself a well overdue dose of my favourite flavour of soul food... travel.
The past two weeks took my partner and I on an unforgettable road trip through California and Nevada. It was a chance to check out of reality for a little while, submerse myself in the beauty of nature, meet incredible people with interesting stories, and reset.
We sat with a bottle of wine under the golden gate bridge, taking in the sunset and salt-kissed air. We met a generous local who reinstated my love of human connection, storytelling, and generosity.
We drove the pacific coast highway, soaking in the spectacular cliffs and powerful movement of the ocean, which both inspired and humbled me.
We spent three days in the Yosemite forest, with no connection to anything but nature.
It's hard not to pick up the phone and browse emails, answer calls, or check the schedule. It's hard to take a break from constant connection. But it reminded me of the importance of absorbing the moment and appreciating the people and places around you.
We drove through the ridges and deserts of Death Valley National Park, which has to be the coolest place I've ever seen. The unlivable climate has left the earth untouched, leaving it rich in minerals that create the most incredible colours and shapes throughout the mountain, revitalizing my creativity and appreciation for the beauty of nature.
Just like food and exercise, soul food is an essential to our health.
So while you're making sure to drink your water and eat your greens, add something special to the menu this week... that's right, soul food.
Always in health and wellness,