Health is a muddy concept in our modern society and on homesteads today. It often gets lumped into dress sizes and hardness of muscles. And yet, staying healthy on the homestead often boils down to connection, individuality, and common sense.
Health is a much bigger concept than most ‘guru’s claim and so much more basic as well in my opinion. I doubt very seriously that our great-grandmothers would have been so confounded by something as seemingly basic as health.
Connection is health. And what our society does its best to disguise from us is how ordinary, how commonly attainable, health is. We lose our health – and create profitable diseases and dependencies – by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving. ~Wendell Berry
I struggled several years ago with my health. With Rheumatoid Arthritis to be exact (it runs in the family both my grandmas had it). That experience and the journey it took me on, made me realize that health isn’t nearly as mysterious as all the marketers and personal trainers make it seem. There’s also no one right way for everyone.
I lost over 100 pounds, fought mightily to naturally control my arthritis, and eventually learned that health truly is as simple as these four basic guidelines. Let me honest that ideas are simple, the practice is sometimes anything but… progress not perfection.
It’s so easy in these rushed modern days to lose sight of deliberating living our lives. We all get pulled in a million different directions and often on the homestead many of us are trying to balance working, raising animals, keeping a garden, preserving food, parenting, and much more all on a daily basis.
It’s exhausting. Sometimes the tendency to just keep up overtakes us all, I promise us all – myself included.
When that happens, however; our immune systems often take the brunt of that force if it goes on for long. It leaves us run down and often sick. We can combat that and build up our health by choosing to live intentionally. By choosing to say no to outside influences and yes to self-care, yes to rest.
When we see our daily lives as a direct connection to our physical and mental health, we’re better able to take control and focus on staying healthy.
Deliberate living takes some planning, inspiration, and accountability too. It means being sure of our priorities and honest with ourselves. Are we tackling projects in the appropriate season? Are we making sure to set priorities and stick to them?
Staying healthy on the homestead means some form of rigorous attention to the personal mission statement. It’s this attention that allows us to live deliberately rather than be swayed by the busyness of modern life.
Let me start this off by saying, I have a sweet tooth the size of Montana. It’s so easy for me to be swayed by eating a cookie instead of vegetables. Not because I don’t like vegetables but because I like to bake and cookies are usually quick and easy to grab. Tasty, too.
When I’m not living deliberately, I’m not eating mindfully either. They really do go hand in hand. I don’t think I’m alone in that.
It is on those crazy busy days that we opt for a take-out pizza. A take-out pizza that is loaded with questionable toppings. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional splurge but the lack of mindful eating on a regular basis tends to cause havoc in the body (and mind I’ve found).
When I plan meals around what is fresh from the garden (or locally available) as well as the food I’ve put up in the pantry, my health naturally increases. The food fuels my body and in turn my deliberate living. That same food – whole, natural food – keeps my immune system running well further enhancing my health.
Now, I know, there a gazillion different ways to eat and everyone wants to tell you why their particular way is the best. Vegan, paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. The thing is, I don’t believe that any one diet is right for every body.
We all have different needs and health concerns – find what works and go with that. Start with whole, natural foods and figure out from there if gluten-free, paleo, vegan or some other system is best for you personally. Find good recipe inspiration when necessary and eat mindfully. For me, I just focus on wholesome, real food most of the time and let all the other labels slide.
Purposeful Physical Work & Exercise
Our homesteading and DIY lives often mean we’re physically working our bodies. Gardening, caring for livestock, hiking, etc. all provide purposeful movement to our bodies. This movement and work outside in nature can help maintain health.
Our homestead is small and we definitely take advantage of modern machinery for some labor meaning our physical labor isn’t always very intense. To make up for that lack of intensity, we practice purposeful exercise. This exercise consists mostly of daily walks and some weight lifting to help combat aging muscles and joints.
Again, exercise like eating is different for every body. No one way is going to be right for everyone on health.
Exercise doesn’t have to be (in fact shouldn’t be) punishment for eating a cookie. It’s not some kind of toll we pay to get into a smaller pants size. Exercise should be about building up our bodies and minds so that we can achieve our homesteading dreams.
Hate running? Don’t do it. Don’t pay membership fees for a gym that you can’t stand. Find purposeful exercise that is enjoyable to you and skip the trends.
Our mental health affects our physical. For many, if not all, of us, our mental health requires some connection, love with another human being. Feelings of isolation, rarely lead to anything good.
The prominence of social media misleads many of us into thinking we’re being intentional with our relationships. Spend time with loved ones. Real time, not screen time – eat mindfully with them – do physical work with them – live deliberately with them and simply enjoy their company.
These intentional relationships build up our souls and our bodies. Skip the relationships that aren’t loving or kind. Hug the people you love, be intentional in your time with them. This will only help you and them stay healthy.
This idea of staying healthy on the homestead, it doesn’t have to be terribly hard to figure out. Certain health conditions require specific attention and care but overall health and joy aren’t all that hard. Start with these 4 simple guidelines and build on them in such a way to make them work for your own happy, healthy life.