Healthy Living

Be a healthier you

20161107_092548

Toronto, Ontario

I work hard at being as healthy as I can. It’s not always easy since I prefer to hang out with family and friends than work out most days. I also prefer an all out gourmet meal to healthier options. Irksome food restrictions force me to eat a certain way (can someone remind me what butter tastes like?). I work out with a personal trainer to make sure I get into the gym. But I always feel so much better once I finish working out, and cooking healthy meals that also taste great makes me happy. And then I remember that’s the point. Being healthy means that your body, mind, and spirit all work together. If one part is stressed or not functioning properly, the other parts suffer and you might not even realize it. It’s not just about working out or eating right.

I remind myself that all three parts are essential to overall health, so I work at balancing taking care of my body, mind, and spirit. There are some key areas to focus on if you’re looking to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Control stress
Having some stress in your life can be good for you. It keeps you alert. But too much stress can be overwhelming, cloud your thinking and interfere with your ability to relax. Taking time for yourself regularly can help you recharge, approach situations with more control and help you get more enjoyment out of life. Sometimes it’s not easy to manage stress, especially when you have multiple competing priorities. If you need it, there’s always a little bit of time to squeeze something in to help control your stress, even if it’s while you shower. Some suggestions include:

  • Exercise: not only does it keep you fit, the endorphins released help reduce stress
  • Go to dinner or the movies, or do anything you enjoy
  • Read or listen to music
  • Take 10 minutes or more to meditate or deep breathe to help you relax

It may take some time to try to incorporate some of these into your routine, but once you do, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to make room for some little things that help you feel better!

It helped me. I’ve had times where my work demands were so overwhelming; I was putting in 90 hours a week including some weekends, on top of my daily responsibilities. There was barely any time for sleep, let alone family and friends. I don’t even want to talk about what I was eating! I knew I was going to break at some point, so I eventually started to carve out some “me time” by squeezing in a dinner once a week in between work hours so that I took a brief time out. Then, when weather permitted, I started to walk to meetings or home instead of taking transit so that I was getting some fresh air. The walk also helped relax my mind. Slowly, I was carving out a few hours a week in small increments to unwind. As my work schedule started to reduce, I already had a foundation in place to build on and add in more me time.

Eat right
I know this comes up over and over again, but eating right is so important to keeping your mind, body, and spirit in balance. Eat reasonable amounts of nutritious food; it really can help you feel your best. Too much of any one kind of food or beverage can make you become off balance. For example:

  • Too much caffeine can make you tense, jumpy or unable to sleep properly; it can also cause a racing heart in some people.
  • Some of the short-term effects of too much alcohol include clouding your thinking, interrupting your sleep, making you irritable and of course there are the dreaded effects of a hangover if you’ve over indulged. I’m not going to get into the damaging physical and psychological health effects of longer-term heavy alcohol use.

A balanced diet and moderating your caffeine and alcohol intake can do wonders towards helping you feel good.

Exercise regularly
Again, this is something that comes up all the time, but it is crucial for overall health to participate in some form of physical activity regularly. It doesn’t have to be intense cardio or strength training if those don’t appeal to you, but it has to be something. Although there are different types of exercise to achieve different goals, such as cardio for heart health, you don’t have to take up running to benefit from being active. For example, if you can, try:

  • walking or biking to work, school, or any other place you tend to take your car,
  • taking the stairs instead of the elevator or an escalator, or
  • getting up to stretch or walk around every hour or two to make sure you’re not inactive for too long.

Start with things you enjoy, or are easy to fit into your schedule to work into a routine. As exercise becomes part of your regular schedule, you can start modifying areas to help you achieve your personal goals.

Take a break for your mind and spirit
Your mind and spirit need a balanced diet and exercise as much as your body does. Sometimes people focus on food and exercise as a means to look a specific way, not because it’s good for overall health, including mental health. Some diet and exercise trends can help to achieve specific physical goals, but the focus isn’t necessarily on the importance of internal and mental health as well. Some things you can do for you mind and spirit include:

  • Talk about something you’re worried about with a family member or friend, a healthcare professional or someone you trust.
  • Go for a walk, read a book or do something you enjoy to help your mind relax.
  • Do something nice for someone (even if that someone is you); it will make you feel better. It can be as simple as a compliment or a “Hey; I’m thinking about you!” message.

It’s easy with everything that goes on in our lives to forget that we need to take the time to relax our minds. If we don’t, we can burn out, and then become much less effective to ourselves, our relationships and while we are at work or school.

Put some variety into your life
Variety is essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes the things you on a daily basis have become so routine, they are no longer benefiting you (or perhaps never were helping you depending on what they are). Some things to look out for include:

  • You’ve become bored with things you found interesting before because you’ve done them too many times. In this scenario, try something you’ve never done before but always wanted to do, or bring something you’ve previously done, back into your rotation.
  • You’re stressed and not doing anything about it. Try some of the suggestions outlined above to reduce your stress and talk to a healthcare professional for direction.
  • Your eating habits have changed. Either you’re eating too much, too little, or overindulging in things that aren’t good for you. Eating habits can change for a host of reasons including, health changes, stress, and changes to your schedule. If you’re finding it difficult to regulate your eating patterns, try talking to a nutritionist or other healthcare professional for support.

If you can regularly make just one small change in your routine; it can make a world of difference to your health.

15 replies »

  1. Very interesting post, and engagingly written. What resonated most with me was your point about controlling stress – it’s easy to get anxious and wound up in our own lives, which makes it important to take a step back and relax every now and again 🙂

    Like

  2. I absolutely loved this post! I totally agree that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected and when one is off it reflects on the others. Keep up the good work!

    Like

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