Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Most experts agree: don't wait to for a major health crisis to get well. Here are four simple places to start redefining what wellness looks like in your life.
1. Reduce Your Stress
Many health experts would argue that our number one health problem is stress. The American Medical Association has designated stress as the basic cause of more than 60 percent of human sickness and disease.
A Harvard School of Public Health/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation poll found that about half of Americans reported a major stressful event or experience in the last year, and more than 40 percent said that the most stressful experience related to their health.
“Stress touches everyone,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Unfortunately, many of those feeling the most stress get trapped in cycles that can be very unhealthy. If we are going to build a culture of health in America, one big step we can take is recognizing the causes and effects not just of our own stress and the stress of those closest to us, but of others we encounter in our day-to-day lives. That recognition can go a long way in helping us create healthier environments in our homes, workplaces, and communities.”
What is stressing you out in your life? Can you find ways to let go of what ails you? Whether you try a yoga class, spend more time in nature, or watch a funny movie, find an activity that can help you reduce your stress on a regular basis.
2. Get Some Sleep
In a sleep survey of more than 8,000 people around the world, work stress and financial issues were the top two worries keeping people up at night or disturbing their sleep in some way. Additionally, 57 percent of participants said their quality of sleep could improve and yet they had not made any changes to try to improve it.
Are you sleeping on an old mattress? Is it time to buy earplugs so you’re not waking up in the middle of the night from your partner’s snoring? Or maybe you simply need to commit to going to bed at 10:00 p.m. for a week. Try to make one small change this week that can help you sleep better.
3. Eat Breakfast
Mothers and researchers alike have been telling us for years about the importance of a proper breakfast. Skipping breakfast has been linked to many health issues, including obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, according to research.
Naturopath Tom Francescott agrees. “Those that skip breakfast will have a harder time handling stress,” Francescott said. “People rush to work, drink coffee, and then wonder why they have anxiety issues.”
He recommends starting your day with a protein shake or eggs to help stabilize your blood sugar and set you up for a more balanced day.
Another recent study found that a high-protein breakfast helped reduce food cravings throughout the day.
What's your morning routine like these days? Can you get up a few minutes earlier in the morning to ensure you have fuel for your day? Or consider preparing food at night (like making hard-boiled eggs or your own energy bars) so you have something to grab-and-go in the morning.
4. Explore Your Own Health
Remember that being healthy is more than just avoiding disease. The World Health Organization defined health in 1948 as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Taking an honest look at your life and habits can give you a good idea where you can make changes to improve your health and well-being. Ultimately, the wellness practices that stick will be the ones that you discover on your own. Watch what makes you feel good and create a personalized wellness practice based on your own life and circumstances.
What’s one step you could take today to explore more of what makes you feel truly well? Do you need to add more fun to your routine? Could you benefit from having more quiet time? Does your schedule allow for time to learn about healthy cooking?
Try experimenting today and start to become your own health expert.
© 2015 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies