Keys to Physical Wellness
By Adrian Sparrow
Many of us lead busy lives. Work, family, and community obligations keep us running around with little extra time to eat a healthy meal or get a full night’s rest. What’s more, if you have poor health in one area, it’s likely to affect the rest of your body as well. It’s crucial to find the proper work-life balance even when it feels impossible. What if you got your total 7-8 hours of sleep every night? Or walked an extra 20 minutes every day? Imagine how energetic and flexible you might feel after just one week. Listed below are the pillars of health and some ways to balance them.
What we eat fuels and keeps our bodies in working order. Your body will extract nutrients from the large fries, cola, and cheeseburger, just as it would a garden salad. Most fast food doesn’t contain all your necessary vitamins or minerals and is frequently laden with high sodium and saturated fats. While the occasional meal out is fine, try to substitute your regular french fries with a healthier option like a side salad or apple slices, and sugary sodas with water or iced tea. At home, swap the tater tots for baked potatoes and flavored sparkling water for soda. Remember, you don’t have to forgo all of your favorite foods altogether. Making small nutritional substitutions is more manageable than completely changing your diet all at once. Who knows, you might find that you love those crispy green pea snacks.
Exercise is important for your body for several reasons. Being physically active maintains your bones, muscles, and joints, decreases the risk of certain medical conditions, and promotes mental wellbeing. Exercise also releases the feel-good hormones called endorphins, which reduce pain.
Finding time for a new fitness class with work and family obligations is not always easy. Although a formal class can provide structure and motivation, you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine in small ways. Take the stairs, park farther away from work and run, and do a few jumping jacks before you get in the shower. Whenever you think about working out, use that as an opportunity for a few extra leg lifts or air punches. Do a few lunges when you’re sweeping the floor, and lift that heavy gallon of milk a few extra times before putting it away. Some exercise is better than no exercise, so get creative!
Perhaps finances are causing a strain on your mental wellbeing, or you’ve experienced a heavy loss. However you’ve accrued stress, it’s crucial for your health to manage it properly. Stress can increase your risk of several health problems like heart disease and diabetes, and new or worsened mental illness. With increased stress, you might experience trouble sleeping, mood swings, headaches, and jaw pain.
It’s essential to recognize your triggers and what you can do to minimize them, if possible. Some ways to manage stress on your own include:
-Time in Nature
If you’re struggling to manage your stressors, or have an unmanageable amount of worry or fear, consider reaching out to a mental health professional or counseling service. Talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and medication are just a few of the options you have to help your precious brain-space cope with harsh reality.
Who doesn’t feel better after a good night’s rest? Moreso, sleep helps your body repair and strengthen itself, from your muscles to neural pathways. During sleep, your body continues to be active, especially the brain. Hormones are released and suppressed, memories are processed and stored, and we dream. Other areas of your body rest, like the heart and vascular system, and you’ll likely feel rested and more energetic after you wake up.
We all have one life and one body to live it in. To take good care of yourself, you have to know your body and mind. Meeting your own needs is how you care for yourself; you need to eat, sleep and regularly wash, as well as socialize, process emotions and keep your brain active. Sometimes life interferes, and our bodies don’t work as they should, so extra self-care measures may be needed in those moments. Some might include keeping a food diary, a daily skincare ritual, or grabbing a friend for help with getting exercise and social interaction. Meditation can help you become more aware of your breath, physical sensations, and thoughts. The most important thing is to tune in with your many needs and fulfill them.
It’s not enough just to ‘become’ healthy; you also have to stay healthy. Wellness visits with your primary doctor can help you establish what you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. By knowing what your ‘normal’ vital ranges are- body temperature, resting heart rate, and weight, for instance- you’ll be able to tell if you have a fever or an oncoming panic attack. Learn to perform breast and/or testicular self-exams to catch cancer early. The best way to prevent many problems is to avoid habits that can make your health deteriorate, like smoking, drinking excessively, or staying awake long after bedtime.
Remember: One person’s healthy lifestyle looks different from another. Our bodies are all unique, so prioritize your wellness and find a healthy balance that’s right for you. You’ll have a better quality of life you can thank yourself for.