How Your Values Can Improve Your Health
Photo by Charlie Firth on Unsplash
Written by: Sabrina Sourjah
Date Updated: 8/26/2021
Reviewed by: Patrick D. Randolph, Ph.D.
If you’re unsure of what your values are, here’s a quick test that may help.
First, think of a peak experience you’ve had in life, an experience that left you energized, where you felt like you can take on the world. What do you remember about the experience? What made this a peak experience for you? What was important about it?
Dig in deep to explore the experience further and get to the core values connected to that experience. Write down any words that resonate with you.
Next, do the same with an experience that frustrated you. What annoyed you the most about the experience? What value was violated here?
Looking at your notes, you may be able to find words or fragments that have come up multiple times or words that bring out strong emotions for you. These are your core values.
This is called a values-mining exercise. It’s most helpful to do it with a friend or coach, so they can take notes and ask questions while you explore your experiences.
What Are Values?
Values are fundamental beliefs that guide us towards attitude and action. There is a core need in all of us to live our lives in harmony with our values and beliefs.
There is no right or wrong value. Values are subjective and depend on the individual’s experience of the world.
Examples of Values
My core values are freedom, self-expression, service, joy, balance, and transformation. You can draw from a range of values such as connection, family, humanity, intelligence, wisdom, loyalty, security, integrity, optimism, health, creativity, patience, learning, and adventure.
When you pick a few values as your core values, this doesn’t mean that you don’t honor other values. But other values may not be as important to you as your core values; they may not influence your decisions as much as core values.
How Values Can Help You
1. Overall Health
Conscientious people tend to have clear values like achievement, growth, responsibility, and self-discipline. Research confirms that conscientious people take a conscientious approach to health-related behaviors. This means that a person who values health is more likely to develop daily rituals and long-term habits that enhance health and general well-being.
2. Surgery Outcomes
You will take the best postoperative care after surgery when you value your health and want to get back to everyday life soon. For instance, researchers have found that conscientious bariatric surgery patients with a strong value system are better at managing dysfunctional eating patterns that impact the success of surgery recovery.
3. Mental Health
Research suggests a strong link between personal values and mental health. Like all other areas of your life, you will take care of your mental health based on your values. For example, if you value family relationships, research suggests that this can positively impact your overall well-being. n addition, your behavior in situations that trigger negative emotions will be connected to what you value.
Additionally, beliefs are central to our mental health. Therefore, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) explores client beliefs and encourages experimenting with different, more helpful beliefs as a part of treatment. This means that people with strong beliefs and values can access better mental health.
People who are clear about their values live with purpose and are more optimistic. Studies show that optimism is linked to exceptional longevity, an 11 to 15% longer lifespan leading to living until 85 years or beyond.
5. Life Satisfaction
When you live your life in harmony with your values, you will make decisions that suit you best and take actions that express your values fully. For example, people who value family are more likely to spend extra time with family members. It is expected for them to be more satisfied with life because maintaining healthy relationships is one of the determining factors of life satisfaction.
It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.
~ Roy Disney
Although it may take much reflection and effort, getting clear about your values and beliefs can benefit you in many areas of your life. When you know your values better, life will begin to flow more seamlessly, even when you face challenges.