Week 25: What if we viewed connecting with others like exercise?

For those averse to exercise, hang with me on this one!  

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Buckeye Summit, which was convened to change how we can create and support healthy communities by tackling issues pervasive in America today. The audience – a mix of Ohio State alumni, faculty, staff, and thought leaders in the space of health care – left the Summit with a plan for building healthier communities wherever we call home.

I thought the day would be full of discussions about taking 10,000 steps a day and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Then one panelist made the following statement that nearly froze me to my seat. He said that he thinks the reason for many of our health challenges is that we are not making space for relationships and connections.

Whoa.

Bomb drop.

Inside I was shouting YES – THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING!!

So, here is my question for you: How do you define healthy?

Do you think about the amount of time you spend exercising – or as my 8-year old would ask “if you are getting your active minutes?”

Do you think about your diet and the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole foods you eat versus the amount of fast food and processed ingredients?

Or do you think about the other dimensions of health?  There are nine as described by OSU:

Emotional

Career

Social

Spiritual

Physical

Financial

Intellectual

Creative

Environmental

Only one of these dimensions addresses whether you are getting in your cardio and eating a balanced diet. The others are a whole lot more about making meaningful connections with other human beings.

What my table partners and I discussed was the pervasive issues facing our campus – and country – around mental health. From students feeling overwhelmed by the expectations they place upon themselves to professionals showing up to jobs that they aren’t passionate about, we are not healthy.  

I feel fortunate that at every step of my career and life I have had people to turn to for help and support. Friends. Bosses. Co-workers. Roommates. Family members.

The reality that hit me after hearing statistics and stories about isolation and loneliness is that many people – young and old alike – don’t have a support system. They don’t have a network. And no matter if they are in the best physical shape in their life, the absence of meaningful connections in their life means that the other eight dimensions of their health suffers.

Here is my challenge for the week. There are two paths to take:

  1. For those who regularly exercise – how can you add an element to your physical activity that addresses one or more of the other dimensions of health?
  2. For those who don’t have a regular exercise routine – how can add an element of physical exercise to a dimension of health you would rank yourself very strong in?

For example, how could you form relationships with other people who go to your gym or who you see when you are out on your regular walk / bike / run routes?

Or, if you have great relationships within your work setting, how can you insert an element of physical activity into those interactions?

When it comes to exercise, the hardest part is usually lacing up your shoes and getting out the door, but once you are on the pavement or following the moves to a workout routine, you are glad you showed up.

I challenge you to think about making meaningful connections in the same way. It might not seem convenient or easy – and we certainly know we won’t get immediate results – but prolonged dedication to building relationships will make us stronger and healthier.

We are not one-dimensional. The importance of meaningful connections became even more apparent to me after sitting with a group of individuals committed to making a difference for those we love and for those in our community.

Have you given much thought to how you rank yourself on the 9 dimensions of health?

This is a foundational exercise I work through with my coaching clients. If you’re interested in creating a benchmark – and setting goals to improve – let me know. We can do all of this work in a complimentary coaching session. Reach out to me at natalie@smalltownleadership.com to discuss.  


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Natalie
Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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