Continuing this week with my seven part series on happiness we’re moving onto number three, physical wellness. Taking care of our physical wellness has the most effective instant happiness booster of all. Being well decreases our anxiety, depression, cynicism and increases our enjoyment of daily life. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah I want some of that! 😉
Everyone has different ideas about physical wellness. Some of us don’t even think about it at all, others set unrealistically high standards for themselves and give up when they don’t meet them. Some of us make attempts to get fit and to feel healthier, but we find we don’t have the time or the patience for a regular routine. Others of us want to practice healthier habits, but don’t know where to begin.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there are some simple steps you can take everyday to increase your physical wellness. I want to get clear that physical wellness isn’t only about exercise, it’s about eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking care of our personal hygiene. You know that weirdly shaped mole on your arm that has been slowly growing? Get it checked because it might be something serious! I just had a basil cell carcinoma removed – ouch!
Our exercise regimen is more than just about staying fit. There are many studies that have proven that exercise extends beyond improving our physical body. It turns out that exercise can be one of the best things we do for our brain. Exercise improves our mood, memory, and learning, through the release of pleasure inducing chemicals in our brains and increasing blood flow; an increase in blood flow keeps our arteries and veins pliable, strong, and healthy. It also increases our core body temperature, which improves the brain’s neurotransmitters.
In our take a pill to cure our ailments world (there is a pill for almost everything!) you’ve seen those commercials on TV, especially during the evening news, the side effects alone give me the heebie jeebies! I’ve always been a big believer in finding a natural or non-chemical remedy to cure my ills. Yet I also believe there are times when taking a prescribed medication is necessary for improving physical or mental wellbeing.
For me, the benefits of regular and varied types of exercise is the number one driver of my physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Did you know that 30 – 60 minutes of exercise a day could reduce the symptoms of:
- Diabetes by 58%
- Dementia & Alzheimer’s by 50%
- Anxiety by 40%
- Depression by 47%
- Knee arthritis by 47%
- Post menopausal symptoms by 41%
Daily exercise is also the number one treatment for fatigue and it lowers our chances of premature death by 23%. Not convinced? Check this out.
Eating well doesn’t mean dieting, it means eating a balanced diet that is full of a variety of healthy foods; yup veggies and fruit too! Have you ever heard that you should eat the colors of the rainbow everyday? It’s tough to do – I’ve tried! Guys, there is so much information out there that I chose not to review one method or technique on eating well but, if you are looking for some guidance I would suggest the Mayo Clinic, USDA, or The President’s Council websites.
The guidance I’d like to provide about eating well is that if a subject matter expert tells you to eat a certain way, you need to balance that with what’s best for your body and personal preferences. For example: my body cannot tolerate wheat so when an expert tells me I should eat only whole grains, I chose non-wheat containing ones. Additionally, I have friends who are vegetarian by choice and have learned how to get plenty of protein in their diet without eating the traditional chicken, pork, and dead cow.
One piece of advice I would offer is to drink enough water. 60% of our bodies are made up of water. H2O helps us feel more energized and it lubricates our body by maintaining our blood, muscles, kidneys, liver, skin and digestive system. The old rule is to drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day. I like the idea of the ease to remember this 8 to 8 ratio however, the amount of water you need to ingest daily varies. If it’s hot or humid, if your work out was long and/or sweaty, and if your urine is not pale yellow then you need to drink more than the eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day. Here’s a thought…..when you start to feel hungry before your next meal, grab a glass of water. Sometimes our bodies send out the feeling of hunger when it is thirsty.
Eating healthy means that we will get more vitamins, minerals and nutrients to keep our bodies feeling better and stronger. It also is the number one way to manage a healthy weight. If you want more information about if your current weight is healthy click here.
I do want to add some caution….there is no ideal body shape or body size. Don’t let society tell you what is ideal. That model on the magazine cover in the grocery store checkout line or celebrity on TV are NOT at an ideal weight!
If you feel good and have plenty of zip, zest, and energy to do the activities you need and want to do then take a breath and relax. If you don’t then nows the time to make these changes.
Are you getting enough sleep? Most adult’s need between seven to eight hours of sleep per night. This is our body’s opportunity to focus on rebuilding and regenerate our cells. This helps us get sick less often, reduces blood pressure and stress which improves our mood, and help us to think more clearly and to make better decisions.
We have an internal sleep clock that is triggered by daylight, helping us to get ready for sleep. Exercise and eating healthy are directly linked to the quality of our sleep. Shocking right? Nope!
If you are having trouble feeling like you aren’t getting enough sleep try these techniques:
- Stop drinking caffeine by 3:00 PM (earlier if you hit the hay at 8:30 PM.)
- Don’t eat a large meal before going to bed.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
- Have a routine that helps you prepare for shut-eye. A hot cup of non-caffeinated tea, a shower or bath, reading, breathing deeply, meditation, etc…
- Stop watching TV or looking at your phone or tablet at least 30 – 60 minutes before bed. There are studies that there light inhibits our natural sleep cycle.
- Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep light, noise and temperature at the levels that are comfortable for you.
- Leave your stress, worries, and wondering at the front door. They will be there for you tomorrow.
- Cover your clock and don’t look at it throughout the night. Have faith that your alarm will wake you.
- Have a regular bedtime.
- Have a regular waking time. Yea….that snooze button…don’t touch it! Get your but up out of bed!! If you didn’t sleep well you will tonight. Pushing through the groggy feelings will be important step to take to reach success.
- For more information click here.
Exercise, eating healthier, and getting enough sleep may mean changing our habits. Each of our body’s is unique – we are the only ones who can promote our proper health. To be successful with making targeted changes I suggest changing one thing at a time until it becomes automatic. Turn off the TV at night and go for a walk, eat a piece of fruit or veggies at every meal, or change your bedtime routine.
Did you notice a Ying and Yang relationship with exercise, nutrition, and rest? They are inexplicably inner twined. You have to focus on all three to improve your physical wellness!
There are many ways to improve our physical wellness. Choose what works for you, if your current or new methods aren’t working – don’t give up! Try a new technique until you find what suits your wellness quotient.