Fitness, wellness, nutrition, health–it gets very complicated very quickly. There are so many variables and every single person is different. It’s overwhelming to think about, really.
Or is it?
As complex as health and wellness can get, there are some basics that will always serve you well.
Your Eating and Drinking Habits
We know that what you eat is directly tied to how you feel and your long-term health. We also know that eating can become a complex, emotional minefield. Before that happens, however, dial it back to some really fundamental nourishment pillars that apply to pretty much every human.
Eat whole foods; keep processed food to a minimum
Minimize refined sugar consumption
Minimize alcohol consumption, or eliminate altogether
Eat what makes you feel nourished
Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full
Of course, this leaves the specifics of what exactly you're eating to you. But these pointers can serve as guiding principles when making those choices.
Your Movement Habits
There is a phrase I love: motion is lotion. Motion keeps your body running smoothly because bodies are made to move, often.
There are myriad ways to gain physical fitness. But at the core of staying physically well, there are really three categories of activity that make up a well-rounded movement routine: resistance or weight training, something to get your heartrate up, and range of motion work.
Resistance work helps your muscles, bones, and connective tissue stay healthy and strong. Elevating your heart rate helps keep your cardiovascular system running well. And range of motion work keeps your body parts moving smoothly.
Consistency is key here. Incorporate each of these fitness elements into your life several times a week, even for bouts of ten minutes at a time. Less done more often is always better than more done only on occasion. And remember, doing something is better than doing nothing, even if you just have to make something up on the fly.
Your Mental Habits
What goes on in your thoughts has a big impact on your well-being. Very likely, not all of your thoughts and self-talk are positive or fruitful. Learning to manage negative thinking can have a huge impact on helping you feel better.
Give some attention to what’s happening in your thought patterns. So often our thoughts patterns are so ingrained, we’re not even aware of how much negative or unhelpful thinking is taking up our brain space.
Once you’ve identified some thinking habits that aren’t helping you in life, consider some other ways that you might think about the situation that could be more productive.
Maybe you get down on yourself a lot; it’s pretty common. Next time you feel that negative self-talk coming on, think about how you might talk to a friend who’s in your same situation. Chances are, you wouldn’t say the same nasty things to someone else that you say to yourself. And then, take your own advice. It’s probably pretty good!
Learning to reframe unproductive thought patterns or reduce the time you're dwelling on things that aren't useful to you can help free up brain space for more productive uses. Sometimes, it can simply free your mind to just relax.
Your Resting Habits
How you rest and recuperate is another critical part of your health regimen. Of course, sleep is really important. But so is taking breaks during the day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Find two minutes to take ten nice, deep breaths with your eyes closed. Step outside into the sun. Stand up and stretch to the sky, swing your arms, and bend down to your toes. Take a moment for yourself.
Constantly being on the go, overloading yourself with a never-ending To Do list is stressful! And stress, especially prolonged, chronic stress will take its toll on your health. Put boundaries on your commitments; say No when you need to say No. Make sure you've worked some Me Time into your life.
And when you’re taking a break, take the break, 100%. Again, even just for a few minutes. Put down the phone, rest your brain, look up at the clouds. Rest, relax; let your mind be rejuvenated.
Be Realistic, Do What You Can
Staying healthy does take some mindfulness and some effort. However, you can keep things simple and still get a lot of benefit. Because the reality is, the only way you're going to be able to maintain good health habits is if you can realistically do what you’re setting out to do. Start with basics and do what you can.
Maybe running that marathon isn’t something you can fit into life right now, but getting ready for a 10k is. Maybe you can’t make it to the gym four times a week, but you can do some body weight exercises at home and get to the gym twice a week. Perhaps today you can’t make the deluxe salad with homemade salad dressing you had planned, but you can choose food that's less processed and less sugary, and you can drink water instead of soda. Maybe your 30 minutes of meditation isn’t happening, but you can close your eyes and doing a relaxing body scan for a minute. You get the point.
However you work wellness habits into your life, remember they don’t have to be complicated. Stick to the basics. If you can master the fundamentals, you'll get yourself a long way down the road to feeling your best.