The United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. And wealth is closely associated with good health. But, would you believe me if I told you that the U.S. did not place in the top 25 healthiest countries in the world? Of course, I could write an entire dissertation about why our wealth and health do not correlate, but I will save that for another blog.
Now, what is wellness anyway? The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. The purpose of wellness is not a passive or static state but rather a never-ending process associated with intentions, choices, and actions as we work toward an optimal state of health and well-being. It is much too easy to slip up and fall off of our routine to wellness. And speaking of habits, everyone’s journey to wellness will be different because our bodies are all different for one, and for two, we all live different lifestyles. So, you must choose practices that best suit you and how you live your life. For example, if you are struggling with mental health issues, your routine focuses more on spiritual wellness, and I’ll talk about those practices and why they are important later on. Or, if you live in an urban community with no sidewalks, you might get a gym membership as an alternative means of exercising.
Now, I am by no means saying that practicing healthy habits to achieve wellness will alleviate all health problems, but it can make dealing with these issues much more accessible. According to the British Medical Journal, a consistent wellness routine will add an average of 4 to 11 years to one’s life. That is more time to spend with your loved ones, more time to travel, time to get that degree that you’ve been talking about, or more time to start that business that you’ve been contemplating. There are many pros to achieving a high level of wellness, and though you may have a slow or difficult start, the key is not to get discouraged or give up. So, I’m going to share some tips to help you start or enhance your journey to wellness.
- According to the University of Michigan School of Public Health, sleep is essential to every process in the body, affecting our physical and mental function for the next day, our ability to fight disease and develop immunity, and our metabolism and chronic disease risk. As an adult, getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep at least five days a week is essential to one’s health.
- According to Tricity Medical, exposing your body to sunlight can increase your vitamin D intake. Vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation and regulate cell growth. It is much harder to get all the required amount of vitamin D comes from food sources, so spending 5 to 15 minutes outside or taking daily supplements will help you receive the necessary amounts of this vitamin. Also, sunlight promotes solid bones and gives off serotonin to improve sleep quality, and lower blood pressure.
- If you are regularly physically active, you may:
- reduce your risk of a heart attack
- manage your weight better
- have a lower blood cholesterol level
- lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- have lower blood pressure
- have stronger bones, muscles, and joints and a lower risk of
- developing osteoporosis
- lower your risk of falls
- recover better from periods of hospitalization or bed rest
- feel better – with more energy, a better mood, feel more
- relax and sleep better
- Having a solid social connection with others can influence your well-being. When I say have a strong social relationship, I don’t mean that you should have a lot of friends, but rather having someone to confide in or that you can trust can boost your self-esteem, sense of empathy and reduce illnesses such as heart disease, depression, dementia, and anxiety.
- Your diet can affect your health mentally and physically. Millions of bacteria reside in your GI tract, which impacts the creation of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that constantly convey information from the gut to the brain—two common examples are dopamine and serotonin. When you eat healthily, your body promotes good bacteria and sends healthy and positive signals to the brain. Healthy eating has many physical benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
- It turns out that our body, mind, and spirit are all intricately connected. Although it won’t cure or prevent ailments, spirituality will help you manage discomfort and negotiate challenging situations. Spiritual
- Wellness is not just about religious practices or beliefs but about connecting to something bigger than ourselves, typically involving a search for meaning in life. So whether your relationship is to a higher power, nature, music, art, or humanity as a whole, your ideals and beliefs throughout your life form your unique spirituality.
- Reducing stress can add years to your life expectancy, and mismanaging it can do the opposite. Stress can adversely affect our mental, physical and spiritual health. For example, according to the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, the physical effects of stress are constant headaches, muscle tension, stomach issues, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and high blood pressure. The mental effects of stress are memory problems, difficulty making decisions, and a constant state of worrying. These long-term effects can and will cause you to deteriorate rapidly. Burning lavender candles or soaking in lavender Epsom salt is a great stress reliever. Splurging at your favorite restaurant or store (every once in a while) getting a message, or doing yoga will help you feel better from the inside out, making you happier and reducing your stress levels.
So, adding years to your life is a huge plus, but what is even better than allowing yourself to feel your absolute self? You owe it to yourself and to the people that care about you most. You only get one body in this lifetime, so put forth your best effort in caring for it!