Is self-worth the key to effortless health?

I listened to a podcast this week and boy oh boy did I love it. It was one of Dr Rangan Chaterjee’s Feel Better Live More podcasts featuring Dr Tommy Wood (podcast # 167). If you do one thing this week, listen to this podcast – here’s the link. On the podcast they spoke about many many things that affect our health. From how being very fit, especially aerobically, may not be the best for our health, to restriction and how that feeling of guilt when you eat is worse for you than the ‘bad food’ itself (preaching to the choir here!). They also talked a lot about self-worth and linking it with purpose, and that those who have a high self-worth and sense of purpose live long, healthy, and happy lives.

So what is self-worth and how does it affect our health?

Self-worth is often confused with self-esteem, but they’re not the same thing. Self-worth can be defined as “the internal sense of being good enough and worthy of love and belonging from others“₁.

Now there are a few ways in which a good sense of self-worth can affect our health. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Sense of belonging & purpose : This is the key to living a long, healthy life. When we have a good sense of purpose in our life, our brain has a reason to live and therefore it keeps working. Take David Attenborough and the Queen as two prime examples. At the time of writing this, both are 95 years old, and both are doing fantastically well for their age. Why? I believe it’s because they have a true sense of purpose, be it serving their country, or saving the planet.
  • Diet : If we have a good sense of self-worth we’re probably emotionally quite stable, as we know we are good enough. This means you are much less likely to emotionally eat, for example, stress eat, or replace a feeling of being unloved with binging on food. In addition to this studies show you are more likely to eat a nourishing diet and not feel guilty when you don’t!
  • Exercise : By having a high sense of self-worth we don’t look for external achievements, such as entering an iron man race or having our body look a certain way. This means we are less likely to push our body to the limit, over train and not get enough rest, which is detrimental to our health in both the short and long run.

Perhaps by focusing on our self-worth all the other aspects of health (nutrition, relationships, exercise, stress and so on) will fit into a healthy lifestyle quite naturally.

How to improve your self-worth.

All this is great to know but how do we actually improve our self-worth?

1. Self-compassion : Self-compassion is a great place to start. By being kind to ourselves, we are much more likely to accept ourselves, thus leading towards a sense of self-worth. How can you do this? Well, it will differ for everyone but recently I’ve been focusing on two things;

  • Daily meditation practice. By meditating I give myself time everyday to process thoughts and emotions. It also creates the space for me to shift my mindset to more positive and kind feelings towards myself.
  • Language. That’s the language I use towards myself and to others. Language is extremely powerful. An example would be eating some chocolate. Rather than thinking ‘I can’t have that’ or ‘it’s a naughty treat’ (which will leave feelings of guilt when you eat it) think ‘I’ve eaten well today and I can have some chocolate because it makes me feel good and it tastes great’. In both scenarios you eat the chocolate but which one do you think is better for you?

2. Build Positive Relationships : One of Dan Buettner’s ‘Power 9®‘ from his Blue Zone (where people live healthily to 100 and over) research was ‘Right Tribe‘. The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviours₂. On the opposite end of the spectrum studies show loneliness is one of the major causes, if not the leading cause, of death in the elderly.

3. Finding Purpose : As I mentioned earlier, finding a purpose is a key component to living a long, healthy life. But it’s not so easy just to magic one out of thin air. Ask yourself, what are your core values? What are you good at? What makes you happy? By combining all of these, you’ll be in a great place to find a sense of purpose. It doesn’t necessarily have to be working for a charity or as a doctor, it could simply be working for a company who’s ethos you agree with, or providing as a mother. Everyone is difference and so will be their purpose in life.

Emma Carr health coach leans on counter with vegetables

Personally since I’ve started health coaching I feel I’ve found my sense of purpose. I want to help people live happy, healthy lives by sharing my experience and knowledge with them. In turn, I feel much happier in myself. The last year has been hard work but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Will I live longer because of it? Who knows… let’s check back in 60-70 years 😂

What do you think? Do you think a sense of purpose and self-worth affect health, or are even the key to living healthy? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Love Emma x

REFERENCES:

  1. University of North Carolina Wilmington, Self Worth, https://uncw.edu/counseling/selfworth.html
  2. Dan Buettner, 2002-2010, Blue Zones – Power 9®, https://www.bluezones.com/2016/11/power-9/

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