When you begin to reap the mental and physical benefits of optimal health, falling off the bandwagon can feel detrimental to both your mental and physical wellbeing. Health is wealth and I never tire of saying it. Our health should always be a priority — not just because of the longevity it can provide, but more for the positive chain reactions it causes in every aspect of our lives.
Now at some point or another, each of us has experienced what it’s like to put our health aside for something else to take the forefront. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with counterbalancing priorities, putting health on the backburner and leaving it untouched can be disastrous for our wellbeing.
It is so incredibly important to identify your non-negotiables for optimal health and stick to them for the sake of your own happiness.
So – What are Non-Negotiables?
Non-negotiables are quite literally defined in the name. A non-negotiable is anything that isn’t up for negotiation or debate. Take a moment and be honest with yourself. Are there certain things in your life that need to be done everyday for you to feel good to keep you on track to living your best life? If you’re being honest with yourself then the answer is most definitely yes.
For example, I have friends that need coffee every single morning without a doubt. It’s not something that they debate, it’s not up for negotiation, their days will not start without a fresh cup of hot coffee.
So here’s something important that we need to understand, non-negotiables look different for everyone. The key is to identify yours and prioritize them in the way you would coffee— that is if you drink it every morning.
How To Identify Your Non-Negotiables for Your Best Health
So let’s narrow down the pillars of optimal health. The four pillars are nutrition, movement, sleep and stress management.
Nutrition is essential for optimal health. We are what we eat. Food can either give us life and energy or it can drain and move us towards dis-ease. What we put into our bodies directly correlates with how we feel and act in our daily lives. Identify what foods make you feel good and prioritize them without negotiation. Be intuitive with your body. Take notice of what you eat and how it makes you feel. If the food you eat is making you sick and tired then it doesn’t belong on your plate. Prioritize the foods that fuel you and give you energy for you to get the most out of your day.
Movement is a pillar for optimal health with good reason. People that run are often called adrenaline junkies because when you run there is an adrenaline rush that courses through the body which in turn sharpens the senses and effectively boosts energy. Movement is an incredible act of love for your body and your mind. Bringing movement into your life is like oiling a rusted machine. When you stop moving, the rust builds up and discomfort takes forefront on your physical wellbeing. When you move everyday you strengthen the joints and muscles and build a body that is both rich in ease and ready for longevity.
Identify what movement(s) you love and prioritize them without discussion. My two movements of choice are always yoga and walking. If I don’t practice a set amount of times a week, I feel it in my body and I feel it in my mind. If I don’t go out for a walk with my dog for at least thirty minutes everyday, the mental fog starts to build and suddenly I don’t feel my best at all. Identify which movements you love and thrive off of, and make time for them every single day.
Sleep is a biological necessity and should be treated as such. When you sleep well you live well. Identify how many hours of sleep you need each and everyday for you to function at your best and make that amount a priority every single night. Most of us focus on setting alarms to wake us up. Take it a step further and make sleep a priority by setting an alarm to remind you to start winding down and get to bed.
Stress Management is essential to our happiness. The best way to manage stress is by organizing and counterbalancing. Simplify your life and avoid feeling overwhelmed by organizing what needs to get done and block out your time to do it. If you have certain projects that need to be finished, work responsibilities that need to get done, children that need tending to, dogs that need to be walked — block out your schedule. Organize and simplify your life. Put what’s most important at the top, don’t procrastinate and get it done. Life isn’t easy but your approach to it can be. Take a deep breath and identify what needs your attention, block out your time to dedicate and don’t negotiate. Stress blinds us from experiencing all of the best things in life. If you’re stressed about an exam that you haven’t studied for then I can assure you — anything that you choose to do instead won’t feel good because you’ll still be stressed about a priority you set aside. If you need to be with your family, friends or significant others for you to be able to decompress, prioritize them. Identify what needs to be done for you to be happy and make time for it without negotiation.
Now to the Tricky Part — How to Actually Stick to your Non-Negotiables
For a long time, I didn’t know the answer to this. It’s easy to say we’re going to do something and harder to actually see it through. Things happen, things come up and life takes us on unexpected turns. Our non-negotiables aren’t meant to be rigid but they are meant to keep us accountable to what truly matters to us most. Stick to your non-negotiables by becoming fully aware with what you’re saying yes to and what you’re saying no to. If you decide to skip a non-negotiable ask yourself this question — how will I feel if I skip it? If it’s not going to affect your physical or mental wellbeing then by all means sit it out for a day. But if it is going to affect you physically and mentally then simply get it done.
At the end of the day, your life is your own. The decisions that you make can allow you to reap benefits or face consequences. Understand this when you are faced with saying yes or no to your non-negotiables. Your approach is never going to be perfect. Identify your non-negotiables and do your very best to prioritize them each day and experience firsthand how optimal health improves every aspect of your life.
Born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico, Kaylee is a college graduate navigating the ebb and flow of this world. She loves yoga, snorkeling and falling off of paddle boards. She has too many favorite movies. And you can always find her procrastinating with a good show, a murder mystery novel or eating dates with too much peanut butter.