When it comes to your health, you’ve probably heard everything in the book. On the blog we’ve discussed what foods you should eat, how much daily exercise you need, how many hours of sleep you need, and what you can and can’t put into your body. Basically, there’s this whole long list of what you should and should not be doing to your body and some of it actually contradicts itself. In theory, staying healthy is easy. But of course, it’s not that easy in practice.
Let’s start at the beginning of the day and review small actions that can support your health. It’s 6:00 (or 5:00 or 4:00) in the morning, and your alarm clock rudely awakens you from your slumber. It can’t be that time already, you tell yourself. Both your body and mind shout out in protest as you stumble out of bed. Sound familiar? Many of us are caught up in the same cycle each day. We wake up, go to work, deal with home life, and sleep. It describes a large portion of my life. It’s time we gave ourselves a break. Despite our hectic lives, we do need to find time to take care of ourselves. Here are some ideas you might find useful if you aren’t giving yourself the attention you need.
I. Start the Day Off Right With Exercise
Exercise is good for both body and mind, and it is something you need to find time for on a daily basis. Exercising in the AM will reduce stress, and set you up for the day ahead. Get out of bed a little earlier in the morning (I know it pains you) and go for a brisk walk around the block before having your breakfast. OK, I know in the winter it’s cold and there could be a foot of snow. Get a yoga mat and do stretches and get your body moving. Think of a cat when it wakes up. It stretches in all directions before going to eat. If you haven’t tried yoga, sign up for a class. John Hopkins Medicine gives us 9 body benefits from yoga including expanded brain function, improved relaxation and sleep, improved core strength, and pain management. Several studies argue that yoga is more effective in treating pain and mood conditions than standard medical treatments and prescription drugs aimed at bandaging chronic problems. In fact, yoga is touted for reducing anxiety and increasing feel-good brain chemicals (i.e., serotonin), required to reduce depression and anxiety-related disorders.
Don’t have time for a yoga class? You might also go for a short walk during your lunch break even if you just walk the building. WebMD has chair exercises for the office. Stuck at home with the kids? Try some of these ten-minute workouts for busy moms with a baby. Work in a few during the day at home. You will feel better as a result, physically and mentally. Find an activity you enjoy, find a group or buddy to do it with, and stay active.
2. Make Time To Eat
Okay, so you probably are eating every day. I’d be worried about you if you weren’t. However, make sure you eat good fuel for your body. A quick donut and a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast isn’t going to help your body. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and can kickstart your metabolism. Try a quick cooked oatmeal in the microwave with old-fashioned oats, fresh apples, cinnamon, and cranberries and a little maple syrup. It is tasty and gives your body fuel.
Need something even faster? On Sunday make some overnight oats or chia puddings with fruit and granola and fill mason jars for the next week. Grab one and go. Like yogurt? Make jars of Greek yogurt fresh fruit, with seeds, granola, or nuts. For fruits like bananas that darken over time, add slices each morning. This is a great breakfast, lunch or snack for work.
It only takes 5 minutes to make a smoothie in the morning.
While you’re going to consider what you eat first thing in the morning, that’s not all. You’re also going to have to think about how you want your day to be. Have you ever heard of “sleeping on the wrong side of the bed”? Well, that basically means waking up in a bad mood and choosing to stay in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
You need to start your day right by waking up feeling refreshed, and in a good mood. Not waking up in a jolt, being angry. How you start your day is going to be exactly what sets the tone for the entire day. So think about this, how do you want to start your day? What will make you happy?
3. Eat A Balanced Diet With Fruits, Vegetables, and Proteins
A balanced diet is one that provides all the essential nutrients for an individual’s health. A good way to ensure you are eating a healthy meal is to have fruits, vegetables, and proteins in every meal. While this is straightforward, many of us use food as a reward for good and bad days. While indulging in junk food and other sugary foods is completely fine occasionally, it cannot be the basis of your diet. A take out every night will have an impact on your body long term. No matter how tired you feel after work, you need to have a plan for healthier meals. On a weekend, make a double portion of a freezable meal. Cook one on Sunday and freeze one to use later. I know we discussed getting out of bed a little earlier each day, so after your exercise, make yourself a healthy breakfast. Then prepare a nutritious meal in the slow cooker, so when you come home, you will be greeted with a fabulous smell, with no other effort on your part needed in the kitchen. For some recipes, make a container of vegetables, spices, meat at night and refrigerate for the morning. Place in the crock pot, add liquids, and turn it on. There are so many great slow cooker recipes. Doesn’t the Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore below look wonderful for a great weekday dinner?
4. Regular Visits With Your Doctor
While everyone may hate visiting the doctor, you can’t deny its importance. A minimum of a periodic exam with your primary doctor is necessary to check that your overall health is okay. The frequency of exams depends on your age, medical history, and other factors. The periodic exam may include your family medical history, a physical exam, and any screenings. The goal is to detect health problems before they have a chance to become serious. As we age, more screenings may be added. When I was in my 20’s, I had my first blood work done as part of a night wellness class at a community college. My physician never thought I needed it yet, but I gave him a copy of the results. He was jealous. My first cholesterol test’s number was BELOW normal limits. Now I am a senior with long-term health problems. My primary physician sees me quarterly. At this age besides the blood work and urine sample, we have an annual occult blood screening which translates to a poo sample. The regular screenings can lead to more testing when the results are irregular. This is the way that problems can be discovered before you have a mild heart attack, a TIA (stroke), or pain from cancer. You may then be referred to specialist for your condition. Oncologists, heart specialists, rheumatologists, or other specialized medical professionals can help you focus on major health issues like kidney disease, small cell lung cancer or heart disease.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Time and time again, it’s been said. You have to drink water every day. You have to constantly stay hydrated. Drinking water is one of the most important things anyone can do to keep themselves healthy. It is one of the best ways to stay hydrated and manage our weight. To function properly, all the cells and organs of the body need water.
These may be fairly general, but here are some hydration tips:
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day
- Drink enough water before and after exercise so that you don’t become dehydrated
- Keep a bottle with you when you are on the go so that you don’t have to worry about finding a place with clean drinking water
6. Get Some Sunlight and Vitamin D for Good Health
The importance of getting sunlight is not just for aesthetics. The sun plays a significant role in the production of Vitamin D which is necessary for good health. The sun can provide numerous benefits to our body, including protection stimulation of metabolism, and reducing the risk of disease. With all these benefits, it is important to get some sunlight every day and make sure that we are getting enough Vitamin D. Vitamin A is also another great vitamin that the natural lighting gives out too. Overall, mentally speaking, you’re going to feel so much better if the sun is out. In the winter in many northern climates, the sun is hidden behind clouds. See the post on Seasonal Affective Disorder for information on how lack of light can affect you. If you or your family experiences sadness or depression during dark winter months, please seek help. That is one of the reasons I moved to Florida decades ago. The sun makes me happy and I have more energy.
7. Get Some Sleep
Sleep deprivation is equivalent to drunk driving.
Sleep is one of the most fundamental acts of self-care. When we get overwhelmed or stressed, sleep is usually the first sacrifice. For adults 18 – 60, 7 hours sleep is recommended, but according to the CDC , more than one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. Go to bed at a decent time. Develop an evening routine that helps you relax. After a busy day, you need to let your mind and body heal themselves to recharge for the day ahead. Check my tips for a well-rested night’s sleep .
I hope these 7 tips help you take care of yourself.
This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own.
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