Balancing Healthy Living With Social Life
Engaging in social activities is all-important for maintaining our mental health. Social events are often opportunities for us to be surrounded by good company and tasty food. We find ourselves being tempted by foods that aren’t conducive to living our best selves. We may be influenced by peer pressure to indulge for the sake of fitting in. The question remains: How do we maintain a thriving social life while also prioritizing our physical health?
Preparation is key before entering into any social setting. Set some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) goals before you attend a social gathering such as: “During ____ social occasion, I will remain under 500 calories for my meal” or “During ____ social occasion, I will limit myself to one soda and one alcoholic drink”. Review your goals prior to going out. Try to surround yourself with friends who will not only hold you accountable for your goals but are like-minded in their goals as well. While this may not always be feasible, avoid people who discourage or shame you from reaching your health goals or are enabling. If you start to lose sight of your goals or find your motivation waning, go back to your reasons for establishing the goal. What motivated you to set the goal in the first place?
As you work towards your health goals, barriers will inevitably rear their ugly head. Instead of looking at these barriers with disdain, view these barriers as a chance to improve your chances of accomplishing your goals as you learn how to navigate and tackle roadblocks. Perhaps you start noticing that a particular friend of yours will always offer to buy drinks and you’re trying to avoid alcohol at all costs. Before your next outing, have a conversation with your friend about your health goals and what he/she can do to best support you.
Create a Plan
If you’re going to a restaurant, check out the menu ahead of time. Many major chains post their nutritional facts on their websites allowing you to plan your menu. Suggest going to a restaurant that will allow you to do this. Use an app to journal your calories on a daily basis.
Don’t forget the importance of treating yourself and gifting yourself the opportunity to indulge every once and awhile. Some individuals use the 80/20 guideline as a rule of thumb. 80% of the time they follow health guidelines and 20% of the time they allow themselves to be a little laxed. While this may not work for everyone, as some individuals may need black and white standards, sometimes having some wiggle room can leave less opportunities for binging on foods we’ve deprived ourselves from.
“Health is wealth”, a mantra Jessica’s mother regularly repeated throughout her childhood. Jessica values achieving balance and wholeness in both arenas of mental and physical health. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a practicing mental health therapist, Jessica promotes healthy living, self-care, mindfulness, and above all, kindness towards self.