In today's fitness-crazed world there seems to be a major trend leaning towards living healthier lives. There has been an increase in gyms and fitness centers as well as organic or non-processed restaurants/grocery stores opening in towns across the nation. At many restaurants, there are often times gluten-free or vegan options for various meals as well. How we look and how we take care of ourselves has become paramount in the mind's of the everyday American. And of course, no one can ignore the fact that an "attractive" body image is constantly promoted to people of all ages. You can't turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing someone with better skin, better hair, or a better physique than you flaunting themselves in front of your eyes. This form of intimidation and motivation to be a better form of yourself has driven our society to become very much self-obsessed. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. As a whole, I would argue that society has become more fit and active in the past decade or two. Taking walks or playing sports has become an integral part of many Americans daily routines, which is wonderful.
But, because of this push for "perfection," I believe there is an increasingly obvious detachment from a type of health that should be more important than how your body looks: mental/emotional health. This refers to your psychological well-being: how you perceive yourself, interact with others, and manage your emotions. Now, this is more than just the freedom of issues like anxiety or depression. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive characteristics. There are many ways to improve mental health. For example, sleeping better or exercising more are ways to bolster this ever so important factor of one's well being. I believe, however, that something else plays a major role in one's state of emotional well being: indulgence.
Whether this be enjoying a chocolatey dessert or even treating yourself to a movie date one night, I believe that our society has tightened our ability to splurge on ourselves occasionally as we try to tighten our abs. I believe in the little joys in life. I believe in smiling to strangers and singing to the radio and eating Oreos. I believe that if something constructive and healthy makes you happy, then by all means do it! Sure while downing a triple chocolate cake twice a week is excessive, there's nothing wrong with rewarding a week of hard work with maybe a Popsicle or chocolate chip cookie! Indulging in little joys makes all the hard work worth it.
This helps build one's emotional and mental health as well. Look at it this way. The trek to reaching your full potential (in reference to one's body image, career goals, social aspirations, etc) is like a mountain, up hill and requiring a lot of effort. You will have to put in a lot of hard work and dedication. You will keep pushing on because you know you should or know you have to. But, if the entire mountain is uphill, it's difficult to see the top. It is troublesome to take a breather and appreciate how far you're come and everything you have done to get where you are. So on this mountain, a few plateaus are needed. Brief platforms where we, as humans, can just take a break. Otherwise we will become frustrated, stubborn, depressed, and unappreciative. We need the little joys, the moments of indulgence, so that our mental state doesn't overload.
There is a balance between a healthy body and a healthy mind. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones". Without moments of indulgence, like eating that cookie or going to that movie, we become robots. Our "crushed spirit" doesn't allow us to go on. This is why taking time to treat yourself, even if it is just something small, is extremely important. And although it's good to take care of yourself and live a healthy, fit life, it is just as important for your mind, heart, and soul to take these brief pauses of rest and enjoyment. Now, your form of enjoyment and relaxation doesn't have to be identical to Tom Haverford's and Donna Meagle's from Park's and Recreation, but their logic is air tight. Even if it's just one day a year, "Treat Yo Self" and engage in some emotionally healthy activities.