On health and happiness

Hi, all–

Been busy ’round here. If you haven’t yet, you might want to cruise over to Women and Words, especially on Fridays, because the summer blast tour is going on with several authors. On a whole bunch of Fridays, I’ll be chatting with different authors who write LGBTQ fiction. Most of them are doing book giveaways, as well, so you might score some new reading material. So far, I’ve chatted with Renée Bess, Lynette Mae, and Kate Mclachlan. And there are more to come! So come on by and hang out!

Anyway, I caught this blog by author Tracy Cooper Posey, who writes romance and paranormal/urban fantasy. In it, she offers 11 tips as to why authors should consider building and maintaining good health as those things relate to writing.

Interested about my take on links between health and happiness? Read on…

I myself have been thinking about health and aging, and how we as a species contribute to our own issues. Part of that has to do with the rough health year I had (I’ve been blogging that over at Women and Words, too). And the other part is that yes, I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’m pretty healthy overall, and I try to take care of myself and eat right and exercise. There are things I could do better — like learn how to deal with stress more effectively — but I think my overall constitution made the stuff I went through over the past year more “bearable,” if you will, and I think I healed physically faster than if I wasn’t as healthy as I am. I’m still working through some stuff in other respects, but I’m feeling pretty good.

And I LIKE feeling good. I LIKE how I feel when I don’t eat foods or drink things that are loaded with crap, when I exercise, and get enough rest. I DON’T like how I feel when I’m not taking care of myself. Before I go on, I want to make clear that I’m not going to address people who are dealing with chronic physical pain because of injuries/surgeries they’ve sustained. Bad things happen to people, and you could be the healthiest, most physically fit person in the world and still have to deal with chronic pain because of something that happened to you. I understand that. So here, I want to deal with situations in which we ourselves contribute to our own unhealthy patterns, as you’ll see.

I have a friend — we all have at least one friend like this — who’s no longer a spring chicken, either. Person X is a creative, artistic writerly type. But person X continues to do things that a lot of us did in our early 20s (or maybe throughout our 20s) that were, looking back, bad habits and kinda dumb, though we no doubt had fun doing it at the time (hangovers notwithstanding): drinking a lot of alcohol all the time (person X can’t have just 1), staying out ’til the bars close at least once a week (usually 2-3 times a week), eating and drinking foods that really aren’t good for anyone, let alone someone who’s in the latter part of their 30s, like person X is. Person X engages in these behaviors, and I suspect chickens are coming home to roost.

Lately, person X has been complaining a lot about “not feeling well.” Most of the time, it’s “stomach problems” though headaches and feeling rundown are on the list, too. In the past year, person X has developed a nagging smoker’s cough, which is bad enough that it interrupts conversations and thus, the work person X has to do, which involves a lot of time talking to people on the phone and in person.

Aspects of our bodies start deteriorating by the time we hit 30. So why would we want to give that process any more fuel, like person X is doing? I have a feeling that person X’s self-destructive habits are tied to deeper issues, which themselves are also toxic. So person X is caught in a feedback loop in which the underlying issues trigger the unhealthy eating and drinking issues which then further exacerbate the underlying issues. . .and so it goes.

But when you hit your 30s and start moving toward your 40s (and beyond), it’s a hell of a lot harder for your body to flush those toxins and recover from your not-so-great habits. So those toxins build up, and start creating physical health issues which also feed underlying issues, which might make you depressed and thus cause you to do more self-destructive things — when you’re not feeling well physically, you’re not feeling well emotionally and vice versa. And when you’re not feeling well emotionally, you have a hard time engaging in healthy ways with other people and with the creative work you do. How can you be fully present for someone else — like a partner or family member — when you aren’t present for your own body and mind?

Point being, when you’re not feeling well, how can you perform to your best in whatever it is you wish to make of yourself in life? How can you write that next novel or story? How can you prepare adequately for the future when you’re engaged in feeding your bad habits and avoiding whatever underlying issues you’ve got that are triggering those behaviors?

I’m not suggesting it’s EASY to rebuild the infrastructure of your life, or to open the baggage you’ve spent years hiding in the back of your closet. These things are NEVER easy. But they’re doable, if you’re ready to start feeling better and ready to address the issues underneath the drinking, the bad food habits, the staying out ’til all hours 2-3 times a week, or whatever self-destructive bent you might have. However you decide to do it, there’s no shame in asking for some help with implementing new habits and figuring out what made you want to stick with bad.

Because I’ll tell you what. Physical health to me is precious. I know how it feels to not have that, and I’m dang fortunate that I’ve managed to get back to a point where I’m feeling physically pretty good and able to be active. Feeling good physically helps me deal with the stuff life throws my way. It helps my focus on work, on life, on writing. That’s why I try to eat well, exercise, and pay attention to what my body and psyche tell me. I didn’t get to this point overnight. It took a while, but it’s now habit for me. I hope that those of you looking to re-build your infrastructure that you stick with it, and I hope that those of you who are tired of “not feeling well” that you find the courage within yourselves to do some unpacking. Good luck to all of you, and may you find your happiness.

How about you? Any cool “de-stress” tips you could pass along? 😀 Thanks!

Happy writing, happy reading, happy weekend!

p.s. maintaining good health will be a big bonus in a zombie apocalypse. . .heh.

One thought on “On health and happiness

  1. Great blog, Andi. How to live a healthier life, and what exactly that means, has been on my mind a lot lately. Hope this upcoming year treats you better!

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