A conscious effort to obtain wellness is becoming more and more common in today’s world. Our global society is fast-paced, interconnected, and ever evolving; looking after our own wellbeing is vital to living a healthy and fulfilled life. The World Health Organisation defines wellness as “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This means we actively strive towards achieving and maintaining a state of wellness for ourselves, rather than just being free from illness. As the world celebrates Global Wellness Day on 9 June 2018, consider making some small changes in your own day-to-day life in order to look after your wellness.
Stress in the workplace is more pervasive than ever. A recent report by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found 40% of workers find their job very or extremely stressful, whilst 1 in 4 workers identify their job as the most stressful aspect of their life. We become stressed when we feel overwhelmed, when we are struggling to keep on top of our tasks. And when we retain stress over long periods of time, our health can take a beating.
5 ways to take better care of your body
Morning water works: Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning helps kickstart your metabolism for the day. The brain and heart are 73% water, so beginning each morning with a glass of H20 will help you to wake up, stave off any immediate hunger pangs and rehydrate your body after the night’s sleep. Whilst your morning mind may be telling you it desperately needs that sweet, strong cup of coffee to start functioning properly, your body will thank you for that initial refreshing glass of water.
Work it: Whether you’re a sunrise runner, sunset stroller, or anywhere in between, at least 30 minutes of exercise every day is essential to your physical and emotional wellbeing. The benefits are many; from weight control, to managing blood sugar and insulin levels, improving mood and strengthening the immune system; exercise really can help to encourage and instill wellbeing.
Catch more Zzz’s: Sleep plays a crucial role in our health and wellbeing. It is while we sleep that our body works to support healthy brain function and repair itself. And yet, the vast majority of us deprive ourselves of the sleep we need. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults over the age of 18 to get a minimum of 7-8 hours sleep each night. So whilst it may be tempting to stay up that extra hour or two to finish that programme before hitting the sack, consider the negative impacts on mood, decision-making and memory that sleep deprivation can have the morning after.
Streeeeeetch: We expect a lot from our muscles, yet all too frequently we neglect to take care of their needs. Daily stretching improves posture, flexibility, coordination and range of motion, and it can also safeguard against injury. Many of us lead sedentary professional lives and use exercise as a way to unwind after a long day in the office. If our muscles are not given the chance to stretch out frequently they will become weak, and won’t be able to extend fully when we need them do. When considering which muscles to focus on, physical therapist from Massachusetts General Hospital David Nolan advises that, “The areas critical for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh.”
Eat your plants: Study after study after study has shown that a well-planned, Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) diet is the most effective dietary way to stay healthy by reducing the risk of heart disease, chronic disease, diabetes and other unpleasant conditions. The majority of us aren’t yet ready to cut out animal products completely from our diets, but we can all take positive steps towards looking after our wellbeing by including more plants in our meals. And as we make these changes, the planet will thank us.
5 ways to take better care of your mind
Step away from the screen: It’s estimated that Americans spend a terrifying 2 hours 51 minutes on their smartphones every day. As this doesn’t take into account the additional time spent on a computer or in front of the TV, we all know that we spend far too much time plugged in. Taking deliberate screen breaks throughout the day and spending more time on things that don’t require us to be consumed by a device can improve mood, concentration and contribute to emotional wellbeing.
It’s good to talk: Our work, our family, and a plethora of different obligations take up our time. Sometimes it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done and the idea of taking the time to be sociable just seems impossible. But we are a social species. We need face-to-face interactions in order to look after ourselves and one another. Making the time to meet a friend for a coffee or calling someone to check in stimulates the brain and looks after our mental health.
Get outside: It doesn’t matter if you live in a rural community or a bustling metropolis, spending time outside is essential to wellness. Walking or biking to work is a great way to start the day; it’ll clear the head and revitalise the body ready for the work day ahead. If you have a garden, spending time in nature is a wonderful way to unwind and appreciate the biodiversity around you. And once the weekend comes around, exploring somewhere new takes us away from our chores, our routine, and enriches our experience. Which leads us onto the next point:
Fill your life with experiences, not stuff: We have so many things. We live in a society that tells us that we need more things. That we need instant gratification. That we need stuff. In reality, the money we earn for ourselves and our families is far better spent when it’s enriching our lives. And experiences are far more valuable than physical objects. Shared experiences can bring families closer together, develop empathy, promote gratitude and increase overall wellbeing.
Meditate: Meditative techniques have been used around the world for centuries, and with good reason. Meditation can improve concentration, mood, self-management and contribute towards overall wellbeing. Finding quiet spaces for contemplation amongst the noise of our everyday lives can change our mindset and realign our thoughts to promote a more positive outlook.
Wellbeing doesn’t happen by following a list of dos and don’ts; each one of us has a unique set of experiences, interests and passions. Achieving wellness means we take active measures to look after ourselves, finding what works best for our own needs in order to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.
About The Author: Natalie Weekes is a freelance writer currently based in Nova Scotia, Canada. With a background in Marine Biology, her passions lie in sustainability, conservation, health and education. When she is not outside in nature, she can usually be found creating things, researching, and connecting with others around the world. Tweet @TheLostMollusc.