We all want to be healthy, but setting and reaching your wellness goals can be overwhelming. The trick to sticking with a plan is to start small. Instead of aiming for something abstract and hard to visualize, like “getting healthy,” break your wellness journey down into measurable and achievable milestones. Here are eight ways to start.
Address your stress
This one often appears at the bottom of healthy living lists, but it should be at the top because stress can be the source of many medical problems. In one way or another, all wellness optimization tips are essentially ways to keep stress in check.
Mental well-being is as important to your overall health as your body’s physical condition. Symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, stomach upset, and fatigue can stem from stress, which can lead to unhealthy behaviors like drug use. Stop the stress cycle with strategies like:
- Exercising regularly
- Using relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga
- Spending time with people you like
- Devoting time to activities that don’t involve screens, like gardening, playing an instrument, or knitting
If you are struggling to implement changes like these and need professional assistance addressing Substance Use Disorders or mental health issues, Clean’s Tampa recovery center can help.
Connect with a community
You’ve probably heard about studies showing social isolation can be as deadly as smoking a half-pack of cigarettes a day. Indeed, the adverse health effects associated with loneliness are staggering.
Poor social relationships account for significant increases in the risk of depression, anxiety, suicide, dementia, heart disease, and stroke. Wellness means working on building relationships as much as muscles. Don’t go it alone.
Move a little more
Starting an exercise program does not have to be time-consuming or complicated. Try one of these tweaks to your daily routine.
Stretch it out
Gentle stretching has numerous health benefits, from reducing stress to decreasing the risk of injury and improving joint and muscle function.
Walk it off
Walking is a great way to build some light cardio into your commute if you’re ready to stretch your workout to the next level. Park or get off mass transit a little further from your destination and walk your way to good health.
Work out while you work
Are you tied to your computer? Add an under-desk treadmill, stationary bike, or portable pair of pedals to your workstation to get your blood pumping.
Even a sit-stand desk offers some benefits of exercise: standing burns more calories than sitting and can alleviate back and neck strain. A recent study shows alternating positions throughout the workday can reduce blood sugar spikes.
Get fit with a friend
Not only can time with friends reduce stress, but an accountability partner can increase your chances of meeting health goals. An Association for Talent Development study found a 65 percent increase in achieving a goal for people who commit their plan to a friend.
Goal-setters who schedule and attend regular meetings to update their accountability partners on their progress have a 95 perfect success rate.
In addition to friends, wellbeing guides and retreats can also help you reduce stress.
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation has been associated with several poor health outcomes, including hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. Whether it’s insomnia or tight schedules that cut your sleep short, improving sleep hygiene may help reset your circadian rhythm. Avoid electronics before bed and keep bed and wake times consistent.
Tap into technology
Try a health and fitness-tracking app to guide your wellness journey. If choices seem overwhelming, start with the pedometer app that probably came on your smartphone.
There’s a digital solution for you, no matter what you want to track. Apps can address a wide range of health concerns, including social isolation, stress management, sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Some apps require users to input data, but devices you wear or breathe into do the number crunching for you.
Still not sold? Find a techie accountability partner who is, and share your app data with them for a boost in motivation.
Home-cook your way to health
Home-cooked food, no matter what you make, is generally healthier than restaurant fare. When you’re the one in the kitchen, sugar and sodium content will not be a mystery. You’ll know whether or not your fats are the “good fats” that lower disease, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, and fish.
Even if you seek healthier takeout options, they can’t beat the stress-busting benefits of being in the kitchen with family and friends.
Have healthy hydration habits
You’ve probably heard about recommendations to drink eight glasses of water a day but might forget to drink them. If this is you, try a measured water bottle with markings to track your consumption. Add some variety to your fluid intake by “eating” your water. Consumption of watery fruits and veggies like cucumber and watermelon count toward your liquid goals.
Before you go
Over time, small lifestyle changes can generate significant results. Wellness is a lifelong journey, and bumps in the road are inevitable. Start slow, adopting one change at a time, and if you’re feeling derailed, remember to breathe and reach out for support.
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