Oh, what a year, especially when it comes to health! At some point this year, we have all had to take a moment to think about our health, whether we wanted to or not. Some of us may question what health even means anymore. If you’re reading this, most likely you care deeply not only about your health, but your family’s, too.
There is an incredibly powerful quote about health which I have adopted for myself and want to share with you:
“For me, healthy means the continual process of harmonizing one’s body and mind with the planet. It’s about eating foods that increase our vitality and longevity while minimizing the impact on the environment. It’s about resisting rigidity and embracing compassion for oneself and all other beings. Most importantly, healthy isn’t a single state of being; it’s an evolving journey.” – Anonymous
So, in reflecting on this, what can we do to ensure we are living the healthiest life we can?
Focus on Your Immune System
On top of all of us being at risk for contracting COVID-19, we have entered into flu season, which means we need to help our bodies fight any little harmful invaders. The difference between someone becoming sick and one who doesn’t comes down to how well their bodies can fight pathogens. Let’s take a look at two scenarios. The first person doesn’t engage in much exercise, puts little thought into eating healthy foods, has inconsistent sleep patterns and often is found stressed. The second individual exercises 5 days a week, includes daily vitamins, eats mainly whole, plant- based foods, gets consistent sleep and journals daily (more on this later).
Now, let’s say each person comes in contact with a virus. Without a doubt the first individual will most likely become ill. However, both could become sick. The second person may have mild symptoms and recover fairly quickly, whereas the first could be wiped and couched for a week before feeling better. For many of us, being sick is the absolute last thing we want right now. So how can we protect, help and build our immune systems?
- Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night
- Turn off your phone at least 1-2 hours before bed. While this may be a challenge, staying off technology will actually help your body naturally produce melatonin and prepare your body for sleep. You will sleep more soundly and decrease the likelihood of waking up in the middle of the night.
- Eat for your body
- It’s important to fuel your body with the necessary nutrition it needs to keep all systems working properly, not only the immune system, but digestive, cardiovascular, integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, urinary, respiratory and reproductive system. These systems are all interconnected and when one goes down, the others struggle, too! So simply put, eat the colors of the rainbow, filling your plate with LOTS of fruits and veggies, eating mainly plant based options. Oh, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water! Since this is something I’m sure we could all do a little better with, I challenge you to make it a goal this week to add one extra glass of water to what you are currently consuming.
- Stay Active
- In conjunction with eating and resting, keeping the body moving actually helps each of the systems perform at their best. This doesn’t mean doing strenuous exercise every day of the week or any at all. Go for a walk, hike or jog if you’re up to it! Include the family or invite a friend to join. Keep it fun and something you look forward to.
Get to know and understand YOUR Stressors
Some common stressors in life include:
- Health/Body Issues
What can I do about it?
- There is so much power in writing things down. When you get them out of your head, you naturally will start to think and worry about them less. Try journaling daily for about 5 minutes. There’s no right or wrong here, just write!
- Ask a friend or spouse what they see from their point of view that causes you stress. Sometimes we can benefit from having someone else bring light to something we may not see.
- Make a list of where you see the stress coming from. If its finances, for example, map out an action plan to get your money in order. If it’s not something you feel you can do alone, ask a friend or community member you trust to sit with you and make a list of steps you can take to eliminate some stress.
Include fun as part of your week
When was the last time that you remember laughing hysterically or enjoying a good night with friends that time seemed to pass so quickly? Well, I am encouraging you to schedule at least one fun thing into your week, every week. Scheduling something will mean there will be a greater chance that you actually make it happen.
Focus on the positive
One of the best ways I am able to stay positive is to surround myself (either in person, by phone communication or video calls) with people who bring me joy and encouragement. While many of us have been distanced from our usual communities, we can still embrace our virtual communities. Further, something I have been incorporating this year is the practice of gratitude. I like to encourage others to follow in grabbing a journal in which you dedicate a few minutes a day to writing. Each day, morning or evening, list 3 things you are grateful for. This can be life changing! Overtime, you will start to see how many things in your life are blessings, even the small things like a warm place to live or a hot shower, etc. Maybe you’re thankful for your morning cup of coffee! With the year we have experienced, it’s important to see the light in what may seem like a long drawn out season of darkness.
Learn one new thing a day
I love this idea! It’s been fun to see how many new things I can learn either through my own research, through other people sharing facts with me or picking up something I hear on the radio or a podcast. It’s always beneficial to keep your brain exercised and this is just a fun, small way to do so!
Incorporating some of these new ideas into your daily routines can help establish more permanent healthy habits over time. Once you start doing them (all or even just one), I can promise you, you’ll start to see more positivity exude from your inner being. This is the perfect time to establish new habits that you can carry with you into 2021 for a prosperous, successful and joyful year ahead!
Remember you have the power to make change happen!