With Valentine's Day in our rear view mirror, I have a question for you.
Do you love your life?
One of the best ways to love our lives is to take care of ourselves through proper sleep, nutrition and exercise. If you’re anything like me, you have the best of intentions but when life gets busy, some of those healthy habits tend to slip. And sometimes it just seems so overwhelming to pay attention to all of those healthy habits we know are good for us.
And the key word here is “habit.” I don’t know about you but when it comes to taking care of myself, I have found it most helpful to establish routines so I can keep the momentum going, keep my well-being a priority and keep those pesky excuses at bay.
Now, I am not a medical professional but I have held a life-long interest in wellness. I have done a lot of research and am also good at noticing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to my own health and well-being. I am also not perfect and have found I need to continually rededicate myself to wellness practices that I know are right for me.
Here is my list, in order, of what I have discovered to be the most important steps I can take to love my life!
Get enough sleep. I have discovered the #1 way to keep myself feeling at the top of my game is to get enough sleep. How much sleep I get sets the stage for my entire day. When I have slept well, I have more energy and more optimism, I can think more clearly, make better decisions and am much more likely to follow through on all my other wellness practices. For me, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed morning person I am, this means going to bed relatively early. Ideally, getting in bed by 9 and reading for awhile before lights out gives me the greatest chance of getting a good night’s sleep. This plan usually gets derailed when I allow myself to zone out in front of the TV or my phone. First of all, I get too tired to get up and get myself ready for bed. Second, the bright artificial light emitted from electronic devices is believed by some to interfere with the chemical processes in our brain that regulate sleep. Read more about why it’s so important to get a good night’s sleep here. More tips to getting a good night’s sleep can be found here.
Exercise every day. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon or do a complicated fitness routine on a daily basis. For most of us, going for a brisk walk for a little over 20 minutes a day gets us to the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. We should also engage in strength training and aim to sit less. To learn more, go here.
Eat a variety of foods. A healthy diet doesn’t need to be complicated. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet while taking away processed and convenience foods. Staying well-hydrated is also key. Read this great article that covers why we crave junk food and how to eat healthier. Learn about the healthiest diet for you here.
Avoid sugar. Eating too much sugar is associated with dental disease, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. For some, sugar can be addictive and all of us would benefit from paying attention to the hidden sugars in our food. Click here to learn more:
Live in the present. Stress and anxiety are associated with a myriad of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, migraines, asthma, obesity, ulcers, skin issues, digestion problems, diabetes, social isolation, depression, substance abuse, accelerated aging and Alzheimer’s disease. And one of the top contributors to stress is worrying about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Try living in the present moment and see what it does for your stress. Learn how here.
Sarah VanderMeiden, M.S., BCC is a Board Certified Coach with a life-long interest in health and well-being. She may be contacted at sarahvandermeiden.com .