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April 16, 2010 / Katie

Living Life Well

I wrote a post on my professional blog today about the Live Your Life Well campaign.  May is Mental Health Month and Mental Health America has set up the Live Your Life Well website in response to that.

I pointed people to it on my blog, and here, because I think that it appears to be a pretty useful website.  They recommend ten behaviors/changes that we can engage in to help our overall well-being:

1. connect with others
2. stay positive
3. get physically active
4. help others
5. get enough sleep
6. create joy and satisfaction
7. eat well
8. take care of your spirit
9. deal better with hard times
10. get professional help if you need it

Each item is a link to a website describing ways to integrate these suggestions. And I think they’re helpful generally; of course some of them may be more difficult or even impossible for some folks given their current situation, but even if that’s the case, we can focus on others that are possible for us.

I think this is useful particularly for Americans who are so go-go-go all the time, simultaneously very self-absorbed and also getting sucked into caring for others at the detriment of ourselves. If we all truly committed to the self-care that is feasible for us to practice, I really do believe we’d all have better mental health.

I also wanted to highlight here, on this blog, how pleased I am about the lack of fat-based shaming on this site, even as they talk about eating well and physical activity. Just using the phrases “eating well” and “physical activity” instead of “diet” and “exercise” is a key in the focus of this—truly on health and not on rigid rules or emphasis on weight. I scoured the links about eating and movement and I could only find one reference to weight; that exercise “helps with weight management.” The page about eating well seems to be pretty balanced, e.g. addressing the difference between saturated fat and omega-3’s and not taking a hard-line or shaming approach about our intake of different foods.

This is really a breath of fresh air. I mean, if the only mention of weight is in one unnecessary but not particularly offensive bullet point on one page of the whole website, that’s pretty remarkable. This kind of thing is extremely heartening for me to see, as a fat activist. Some people get it—it’s truly about health and not about fatness. Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver, and so many others would be wise to take note!

The only thing that would make this better is if the site addressed better some of the systemic reasons that people are not able to engage in those ten behaviors easily or, in some cases, at all. But even though it doesn’t, I’m still pretty pleased to see it.

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