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Friday Fun! (On Health)

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope you all enjoyed your first full week of June.  Here in Boston, we’ve been having quite the little heat-wave….with accompanying short tempers to go with it.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about health.  What makes a person physically and emotionally healthy.  It seems like such a simple concept, but there are incredibly wide and varied opinions on what exactly it takes to give someone good health and what the signs of good health are.  For instance, personally I don’t eat meat, partly for beliefs and partly because I feel healthier when I don’t.  Yet there are people who swear they need red meat to feel healthy or fish or whatever.  If we can’t even agree on simple guidelines for physical health, how can we possibly agree on them for the more complex world of mental and emotional health?  So here we all are trying to sort our way through all the different advice out there and find what works for us.  For some people with more hurdles or baggage to get over, it’s a longer process than for others.  I think what matters the most is that the person is trying, but unfortunately some people don’t give a whole lot of credit to trying.  But if someone is trying to be healthy and it’s hard for them, why should they get less credit than someone who is naturally pretty healthy?  Perhaps I’ve just become more empathetic because I work at a hospital.  I see people truly struggling just to be functioning members of society, and then I see the stigma they face on top of it, and it just makes me sad.  Being a healthy person in the modern world is hard and stacking stigma on top of it isn’t going to help or fix anything.

It reminds me of an usher I met when I was out at the Boston Ballet this year.  She was chatting with my friend and me, and she said, “Sometimes you just gotta get really drunk and forget about your problems for one night.”  I think that’s something some people who’ve been dealt a better hand in life forget.  Sometimes people who’ve been dealt a bad hand get tired.  Sometimes they choose an unhealthy coping mechanism because the reward is immediate and easy to see whereas the negatives aren’t.  Maybe that overweight girl you see on the bus reaches for comfort foods because she was abused.  You don’t know.  It’s not easy to constantly try.  It’s not easy to swim against the stream all the time, and most Americans don’t know the best coping mechanisms for when they’re down or sad or just simply tired.  Maybe I’m too optimistic, but it does seem to me that our culture uses a lot of negative reinforcement instead of positive.  Somebody gets depressed or overweight or whatever and culture tells them it’s their fault for being lazy for being sad just get happy, etc…. when what those people really need are some encouragement.  Yes, you can do it.  Yes, it’s ok to take a night off and relax sometimes.  Yes, it will be ok in the end.  Just keep trying.  You’re doing great.

  1. June 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Great post, and very true points. It’s easy to judge others without having any idea of what is going on with them. As a culture we really need more empathy and understanding.

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