A number of my posts over the years have brought up the idea of sustainable behaviour with regard to the environment. Today, I’d like to discuss another aspect of sustainability, that being how sustainability is important when we’re looking at our Self-maintenance. I think the concept of sustainability and Self is hugely important and should not be overlooked. Long-term failure to address Self with sustainable practices will inevitably lead to emotional and/or physical health issues.
When we think about sustainability, we often confuse the topic with the politics of Green versus Business. The media likes to portray the sustainability discussion as a struggle of profits against tree huggers. I don’t think it’s quite that simple. And when it comes to matters of Self well-being, sustainability needs some serious attention. The good news is that it really doesn’t take a lot of effort to determine whether your actions, lifestyle or diet are sustainable or not. Really, it’s just a matter of common sense.
Ultimately, the question always boils down to the same boilerplate: “If I continue to do X over the long term, will it have a negative impact on my well-being or is it entirely harmless or even beneficial?” When that question is answered honestly to yourself, you have much of the foreknowledge that you require to be making the best possible choices for yourself.
Some good examples of the sustainability question might be:
- If I continue drinking this much alcohol, will my health suffer? Am I damaging my liver or otherwise hurting myself by engaging in this behaviour?
- If I get less than six hours of sleep per night, will my ability to function become impaired? If so, can any impairment become permanent?
- Is it sustainable for me to keep experiencing so much job stress without taking any steps to remove the cause or to find an outlet?
- Is the outlet I have been using for stress ideal for my health and well-being?
- Is my way of dealing with anger beneficial to me and those around me? Is my behaviour sustainable in my relationships over the long term?
These questions are worth asking because they cause you to take a closer look at how you’re treating yourself and others. By definition, sustainable practices are those that can be carried out for any length of time without any significant negative impact to the environment, Self or those with whom you’re interacting. Sustainability is OK for any length of time. Sustainability ensures that health resources are not overly consumed or that systems are not pushed beyond their ability to restore balance.
Just as it doesn’t take a genius to realize that we need to pace resource consumption so that the environment can keep pace and maintain a healthful balance, the same requirement holds true for every aspect of our health. If you don’t sleep enough, you’ll get sick. If you don’t eat healthful foods for a significant period of time, your health will decline and possibly fail to the point of experiencing cancer and other serious maladies. If you fail to exercise, you will likely experience some mechanical issues that may result in significant discomfort on later years.
Living intentionally really means to be self-aware. It’s not necessary to analyze absolutely everything you do in every moment of the day, but it’s worth taking some time to examine your more common activities, diet and lifestyle choices. If you look at what you’re doing and come to the conclusion that it may not be sustainable behaviour, I’d be happy to help you put things back on track.
In my own life, I discovered that my lack of post-workout stretching has been unsustainable. In recent months, I’ve developed significant lower vertebrae subluxations to the point that I’ve become alarmed. And while there’s little discomfort for now, I understand that failing to address my spine health could lead to osteoarthritis and even joint fusion. As such, I’m being proactive about stretching, increasing mobility and maximizing blood flow to the area in question. Prevention is the best approach. Always.