The benefits of a healthy lifestyle can seem superficial or self-serving. Living a healthy lifestyle helps you look great, feel stronger, and be more resilient. But it turns out that cultivating healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle is beneficial physically, emotionally, and is important for your interpersonal relationships.
When you look at the causes of anger and frustration, it’s not just from external sources like bad traffic. It turns out that internal or physical forces such as hunger, thirst, bloating, or tiredness can manifest emotionally in the same way that the fear or anger at external sources of stress. Studies have shown that your brain recognizes stress from physical and mental tasks in similar ways, and that hunger can affect likelihood of judges granting parole! And I think we all know what being hangry (angry because you’re hungry) can do for your relationships.
When I first learned about this link between body and mind, I was completely shocked. At the time, I was working as a barista. Most customers were completely lovely, and I enjoyed our daily interactions. However, there were the inevitable negative customers, who at best could be described as cranky. No amount of smiling, customer service, or delicious coffee was ever going to please them. I found that when customers were mean to me, I would then turn around and be less kind to the next customer in line. My negative attitude would follow me back home and infiltrate relationships with friends and family, and it created a chain reaction of negativity!
But then I realized I would sometimes be rude to others for no discernible reason. I found that I was blaming my outbursts on my internal state (like hunger or tiredness), and I got sick of making excuses for why I wasn’t treating others in a kind and generous manner.
After I learned that feeling physically unwell was having the same detrimental effects on my body and relationships as feeling emotionally hurt, I started to take responsibility for how I was feeling emotionally and physically. I began to feed myself right, to get enough sleep, and to diffuse stressful situations.
Because while I may not be able to control how the customer across the counter treats me (or the traffic, the weather, etc etc), I sure as heck can make sure I treat myself well.
If I can stop that chain reaction of negativity just by being kind to my body, it’s my duty to do so!
And from there, my philosophy of “feel good first” was born:
Take care of yourself. Honor your body, listen to it, and do what helps you to grow and shine. And from that place of goodness and strength, nourish others as well. Help them to feel their best and to be happy that they crossed paths with you. It is your gift to others.
As you venture into your work week, how can you elevate your good feelings, so you can bring goodness to others as well? I’d love to hear if you have experienced negative emotions because of physical issues — how do you treat others when you’re not feeling your best?
Lead image courtesy of blog.pgi.com