Choose to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness: it is a process of change and growth towards a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle.
In order to live a higher quality life, maintaining optimal wellness is key. Everything we feel and do relates to our well-being and directly affects our actions and emotions. In order to subdue stress, reduce illness, and ensure positive moments in your life, you must achieve optimal wellness.
To achieve optimal wellness, one must apply it towards every possible endeavor. You can apply a wellness approach towards your environment, community, career, belief systems, physical activities, self care, healthy eating, self esteem, and creative activities. Applying wellness in your everyday life will allow you to achieve your full potential and live with passion and purpose.
Prioritize Sleep — Your Mood and Immune System Are Counting On It
When it comes to taking care of your health and well-being, sleep is pretty much always part of the answer. Getting enough good-quality sleep keeps your immune system running at its best to fight off infections, like the one caused by the new coronavirus. Indeed: There are parts of the body’s immune response that happen only during sleep. Scientists know sleep is also one of the top ways we can help keep stress in check, as sleep deprivation can make us more sensitive to the effects of stress, ramping up our reactions. Finally, the brain needs sleep to function; without it you'll be less patient and focused, make poor decisions, and be more moody, irritable, and emotional.
Work. It. Out.
Spending a lot more time at home does not mean you get to be a couch potato. Staying active not only keeps your body healthy physically (keeping your risk of chronic health issues down and lowering your chances of acute illness, like COVID-19), it also helps up your mood and well-being. Exercise releases endorphins (hormones that make you feel good!), sharpens focus, and aids sleep. Staying physically active also lessens the risk of mood disorders, boosts energy, and improves mood overall. Talk about a one-two punch against the midafternoon slump!
Test Ride a Workout You’ve Never Done Before
When it comes to fitness, people have a tendency to stick to what they know, says Kourtney Thomas, CSCS, a St. Louis, Missouri–based strength and conditioning trainer. But this might be the perfect time to hop out of your comfort zone — while you're actually still in the comfort of your home. That way, you may feel less awkward or like a newbie, while getting the benefits of joining a new online class. Check out options like Zumba, boxing, or dance workouts; or download apps that have a range of options, like Openfit or Sworkit.
Downward Dog Like You Mean It
Are you a yogi or have you considered starting a yoga practice? Now is the time. Yoga offers a laundry list of health benefits, from busting stress to stretching out inactive muscles to building strength to providing a burst of physical activity (depending on the type you do). Why might yoga be an especially useful tool to add to your coping arsenal right now? It links movement with breath. Because both these factors can affect our body’s stress reactions, yoga can be a silver bullet in tough times.
Skip, Jump, Hop, and Get Silly
Basically, if it makes you feel like a kid and a little silly, it can be a mood booster. Play in any form can cause a cascade of positive neurochemicals like serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, according to Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, author of Habits of a Happy Brain, who is based in Oakland, California. Even just a minute of child-like activity can cause a good-chemicals surge, especially if you're feeling stressed.
Play a Game
Monopoly as an anti-stress strategy? A survey by game developer RealNetworks found that 64 percent of respondents cited game playing as a way to relax, while 53 percent play for stress relief. While part of the appeal is playing with friends and family in person, there are tons of virtual options, like Words With Friends, or get your friends together and choose a game from Houseparty you can play in real time.
Avoid Mindless Snacking; Eat Intuitively Instead
Are you now spending your days within eyeshot or arm's reach of your snack drawer? Rather than self-impose strict rules on what foods are off-limits, try intuitive eating. It’s not a diet so much as a way of eating that’s all about giving your body what it needs when it needs it. Intuitive eating doesn’t restrict any specific foods or have you counting calories. It’s a practice in which you listen to your body and pay attention to what you need in the moment. Is it time for a meal or a snack? You eat when you feel hungry, and you stop eating when you feel full. For inspiration, look no further than Instagram.
Swap Out One Coffee for Decaf
Caffeine is one of the most researched substances with more than 10,000 studies to date, according to a November 2017 study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology. Not surprisingly, that's led to a wide range of conclusions, but one that's fairly consistent is that having too much can lead to less-than-ideal effects, the researchers conclude. They note that getting more than 400 milligrams of caffeine daily — check your consumption with this chart from Center for Science in the Public Interest and remember that not every cup of coffee is equivalent when it comes to caffeine content; it depends on the roast of coffee and how strong it’s brewed — can affect your central nervous system, gastrointestinal system, and sleep quality. It can even increase anxiety and stress. So enjoy your buzz, but try limiting your daily amount.
Reach for High-Protein Snacks When You Need an Energy Boost
What should you be noshing on when you feel hungry? Keep high-protein bites on hand to help you get to the end of your to-do list for the day. You’ve heard it before: Protein helps you feel full longer and avoid the energy crash you might experience after the high of a carb-heavy snack subsides. Think hard-boiled eggs, nuts, Greek yogurt, and nut butters and veggies.
Keep Stress-Busting Foods on Hand
Yes, you read that correctly. Certain foods can actually have a stress-lowering effect. Warm foods like soup or tea are soothing, and the omega-3s in fatty fish may improve mood. Avocados are packed with vitamins C and B6, which are known to help reduce stress. Dark chocolate is antioxidant-rich, which is great for thwarting stress do savor in moderation, however, as it’s a calorie-dense food). Other foods that can help include whole-grain carbohydrates, bananas, oranges, water, and leafy greens.
Leave Stress-Inducing Foods in Not-So-Convenient Places
Though you may be inclined to indulge in treats or your favorite cocktail, know that this may be counterproductive. Foods that exacerbate or mess with stress in a less-than-savory way include caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars. You don’t have to cut them out completely, but do limit your intake and enjoy them in moderation.
Whip Up a Mocktail With Health-Boosting Ingredients
Give your liver a break and try mixing a healthy mocktail. Steer clear of the sugary juices and syrups and opt for healthier choices like hibiscus tea, kombucha, sparkling water, and fresh fruits. You can also combine fun flavors like grapefruit and mint, or green tea and oranges.
Go Punk Like Lady Gaga: Practice Kindness and Gratitude
Lady Gaga says she practices being kind to others and being grateful for what’s going right in her life. Clinical studies have found that people who regularly practice gratitude journaling writing down what you’re grateful for report better well-being, physical health, and increased optimism about the future. Practicing kindness is sometimes easier said than done particularly when we’re in tight quarters and tension is high, but remember that everyone is going through a tough time right now.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
A major aspect of self-care is the "self" part, and that includes how you view yourself and, importantly, the language you use when talking to yourself, says Jen Sincero, a Santa Fe, New Mexico–based life coach and the author of You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Appreciate the small tasks you do during the day and remember to tell yourself “good job” — whether it’s a work task, making time for exercise, or keeping your patience when disciplining your child. Celebrate your daily successes with positive self-talk. It might feel weird at first, but your brain will soak up that self-care goodness, and research suggests it can help begin to turn your thoughts and feelings in a happier direction.
Automate Your Joy
If you’re caring for loved ones all the time, it can be tough to put that attention on yourself with self-care. “One way to get around that resistance is to automate as much of the legwork as you can,” says Chloe Carmichael, PhD, a psychologist in New York City and author of Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety. One of the things she does is set her smart home device to play music at a certain time every day.
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