Everyday stress, chaotic schedules and eating on-the-go put a strain on physical and mental wellness, and unless one is mindful of every action, it can be easy to slip into bad habits or mindless consumption. Striving to live a meaningful life that is fulfilling for self and others takes practice and repetition before it becomes habit. Here are several considerations for living a healthy lifestyle that can match your overall health values.
Giving up sugar can be difficult, not to mention salt and unhealthy fats found in potato chips, baked goods and many restaurant menu items. Hectic schedules can keep us from thinking about what we’re putting into our body, especially when we need to grab-and-go.
Switching from quick and easy processed foods to fruits and vegetables takes a change of mindset, especially if you were raised on sugar cereal and canned meals that can taste great, but leave little nutrients in your body. To get started on healthier choices, choose to have a healthy salad without “white” salad dressing at least once a day, or pick up a piece of fruit for an energy snack. From there you can incorporate more whole foods like brown rice over white rice, fiber-packed lentils, and good fatty foods like almonds, avocados and hummus.
Only one in three children in the United States are physically active every day, and only 5% of American adults get 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis. Even if running a marathon to get in shape isn’t for you, there are still ways to move your body every day and reap physical benefits that are good for your health.
- Park at the back of a parking lot and extend your walk.
- Take the stairs at the office.
- When possible, take phone calls standing up, and pace the room if there is enough space.
- Stand up every 30 minutes and stretch your arms above your head and to your sides.
- Short shopping list? Use recyclable bags and carry groceries to and from the checkout counter, giving yourself a mini strength training session.
- Extend your dog’s walk by 10-15 minutes to give both you and pooch more time to move.
- Clean your house for 15 minutes every day. The movement of arms and legs can increase heart rate and breathing.
Treat your body well
Don’t neglect your overall health. Doctor yourself when you need attention, and schedule preventive care each year to maintain wellness. Remember that under the Affordable Care Act, yearly preventive screenings and doctor checkups are covered 100%.
In addition to keeping up on doctor appointments and immunizations, focus on getting a full night’s sleep on a regular basis. It is easy to get caught up binge-watching your favorite Netflix show or staying up late with friends while skipping sleep. Make a point of attempting to get at least 8 hours a day is possible.
Take mental health breaks
Stress at home or work can easily take a toll without even realizing how much it’s affecting your mood and body. Are there dark circles and bags under your eyes? Are you having difficulty sleeping or finding it difficult to leave your bed? Has life become overwhelming or are you feeling numb? There are simple things you can do to break the mental cycle. Make it a point to get out of your environment. Take a walk, run up and down stairs at work or find a quiet place where you can close your eyes and take long, deep breaths. Keep a journal of “happy” thoughts that are positive forces in your life. Call friends and get away from the environment that might be toxic or a source of your stress. Decide to put yourself in positive situations that can keep your mental state sunny when life becomes grey. If personal tactics don’t prove successful, consider visiting a mental health professional to discuss your stress level.
Your social network is vital for your mental and physical well-being. Individuals who are alone, either by choice or not, have higher health risks and a higher mortality rate. Yet the rate of solo individuals is climbing. Today nearly 12% of men residing in America are living alone, compared to 15% of women. And isolation can literally kill you. While there might not be a cure for being alone, social relationships can help curb depression, feelings of loneliness and provide purpose to those who might spend many hours each day to themselves. Fostering relationships outside of marriage also provide healthy benefits, and can increase happiness and mood.