At my monthly Women in Business networking group at the Berwyn Development Corporation, we discussed the importance of recovery and renewal. Some forms of renewal offered were lunchtime walks, keeping a gratitude journal at work, or simply meditating quietly for 5 minutes in the car between clients.
It dawned on me. While we spend a good amount of time around here talking about nutrition and posting recipes, we have been remiss in discussing the importance of other forms of nourishment. And what is that head-clearing walk if not energy bestowing nourishment for your body and mind?
In Exuberant Animal, Frank Forencich points out that despite the thousands of diet books, articles, and talk show we consume on an annual basis, we still crave more. We still have so much to learn. Or unlearn, in some instances. Our nourishment, or renewal, isn't always something that occurs at the basest level with food. And perhaps this is where many of us get stuck trying to force food and drink as the solution -- for energy, for stress.
Ever talk to someone about their passion? I have a friend who spent decades in the theater, directing and teaching. I love to ask him about his productions, the people he's worked with, some of the theaters he has worked in. Every time, as in every single time, it is met with the sort of smile that consumes his entire face and body. He radiates as he is able to recount so many vivid details that you can imagine sitting right there before the stage and seeing the scene unfold. The theater, to my friend, is food. It nourishes him energetically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
So aside from food, where else can we derive nourishment and renewal?
1: Kinetic nourishment
Back to my female colleague who recommended a lunchtime walk. It is a fact that the body cannot remain inactive without consequence. Joints, tendons, and connective tissues in the body eventually revolt when not met with the sort of gravitational and kinetic loads that build strength and increase neural drive. Loads, what? That means vigorous movement. The sort that challenges your tissues to grow and renew. Sweat-producing movement food.
2: Social nourishment
The need to connect, be recognized, and to communicate is so vital. Intimately, yes this includes touch. As Robert Fuller states, "The sentient gaze of another human begin confirms our very sense of being."1 Recognition, at its most basic, is our identity food. As with any nutritional deficiency, the lack of recognition in our identity diet can affect not just our mood and mindset but also our physical state.
3: Experiential nourishment
The mental, intellectual, and psychological challenges that the arts and humanities afford are rather un-coincidentally referred to as "food for thought." In one of his interviews as outgoing president, President Barack Obama was asked how he coped through the eight years of his presidency. His response was simple -- reading fiction. By sinking our teeth into stories told by others, we are feasting upon a whole buffet of varied perspectives. It's like eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, promoting a balanced diet rich with nutrients. I like to call this perspective food.
4: Biophilic nourishment
As described by biologist E.O. Wilson, biophilia ("love of life") is our "innate tendency to affiliate with other living creatures and processes." Hospital studies show patients with a window view of a natural setting tend to have shorter post-operative stays, fewer complications, and require less pain medication than those without. And we have all heard about the beneficial effects of pets on sick human patients. As we spend so much of our day cooped up indoors, it is important to take time for fresh air, sunshine, open sky, raindrops, and the feeling of grass, rocks, or sand under our bare feet. And, if pets are your thing, a hearty cuddle with your favorite furry companion. At the risk of sounding like that yoga teacher, I risk calling this nature food.
So next time you are feeling depleted and tempt the idea of a sugary snack or afternoon jolt of caffeine, consider some of these other food groups. Let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear from you!
1 Fuller, Robert. Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank.
Disclaimer: Fit Club is not a medical doctor and the information contained herein should not be taken as medical advice. These are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problem. Recommendations by Fit Club are not intended to replace the advice of a physician or health professional. Please consult your physician or a health professional before beginning any diet or exercise program.