From fitness to food choices, we make countless decisions every day that help — or hinder — the pursuit of healthy living. Yet, even when you have a healthy lifestyle, it’s easy to overlook some of your most basic health needs. Sometimes, what we really need is to slow down, take a look at our habits, and make small changes to truly care for our whole selves.
We live in a society that values staying busy, so it’s no wonder that many of us don’t take the time to stop and do a little self-analysis. Some call this self-awareness, and it can be both physical and mental. Ask yourself how you feel most days — tired, energetic, in pain? What about emotional needs? These are simple questions, but answering them honestly can help you see where small changes could help you feel your best.
Along with everyday healthy habits such as eating well and exercising, it’s also important to get a wellness exam from your doctor each year. Your annual checkup is another simple way to know your health baseline, and your doctor can guide you if there are things you can do to maintain better health. These visits are especially important for older adults because this is a time in life when changes to your health are normal. The good news for seniors is that Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans cover annual wellness visits completely. Medicare also covers weight-loss programs and some bariatric surgery if you have issues with obesity.
Setting the foundation for better health starts with knowing your baseline, and once you do, you can see where small changes can make a difference. Below are just a few changes you can make to fully support your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Healthy living starts at home, so it’s always good to look at how your home can make your health goals easier to achieve. For example, you know that getting plenty of good quality sleep each night is essential for great health, but if you’re lacking the sleep you need, your bedroom may be partly to blame. According to the Huffington Post, a few simple swaps that make your bedroom darker, comfier, and stress-free can help you doze off at night.
Besides sleep, think about the rest of your daily habits and things you would like to change. Do you need a spot in your home to relax? What about your kitchen — are fruits and vegetables easy to grab for a snack? These details may seem unimportant, but sometimes the simplest changes to your environment can reshape your whole day.
Changing your environment also means being intentional about where you go and what you do outside of the home. One of the best things you can do for your health is to spend time outside in nature. Being outdoors is a win-win-win because it has a positive impact on every aspect of your holistic health, including physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Scientific research even shows that being in nature improves health outcomes like reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, premature death, and high blood pressure.
Whenever you’re able to get out of town for a true dose of good, old-fashioned nature, consider trying a new outdoor activity like mountain biking, hiking, or boating. The latter can be especially relaxing and stress reducing, since you’ll feel like you’ve left your cares behind while floating on the water. If your boat seats aren’t in good condition for the cruise, find comfortable replacements online. Some good options include ones that are UV treated and weatherproof for longer lasting lifespans.
When you realize what you need more of in your life, you may also notice some things you need a break from. You may not be able to take a permanent break from work, but you should take advantage of vacation days to unwind from time to time. Breaks can also be smaller, like doing a little chair yoga when you’re at the office or taking a short walk around the block.
Another type of break that’s getting more popular is to take a social media break. Social media certainly has its benefits, but taking a break on occasion may just boost your health. For some people, being away from social media can help reduce stress, and it leaves more time for hobbies and relationships.
Setting a goal may seem like the opposite of taking a break, but it’s really the same idea — being more intentional about what you spend your time on. The reason this is a health strategy is because working toward a goal is essential for good mental health. You don’t have to be happy every single day, but working toward something meaningful leads to more fulfillment in life. Start with something small that you want to accomplish, or focus on bigger life goals that help you move toward your dreams.
Eating right is a goal that sounds simple, but when you start thinking about all the different diet options to choose from, it’s hard to know which one is “right.” If you have special dietary concerns or health issues, the best thing to do is ask your doctor or a dietician for guidance. However, for most people, we actually can simplify our diet by focusing on good nutrition and balance.
Especially when you’re active, the best thing you can do is eat to fuel your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, making sure your body has enough energy is essential, even for people who are trying to lose weight. To make this goal easy to achieve on a daily basis, stock your refrigerator and pantry with lean sources of protein, healthy carbs, and “good” fats like olive oil and avocados.
Just like we do with diet, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that healthy living is complicated. In reality, living healthier can be incredibly simple. You just have to slow down at times to see the easy, everyday changes you can make to live and feel your best.
By: Jennifer McGregor
Photo credit: Unsplash
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