The Healthy Living Chronicles: Empowering Wellness and Vitality is a book that inspires people to think outside the box of conventional health practices. Through witty anecdotes, diet advice and tips for cancer survival, Carr motivates her audience to become empowered participants in their own health and wellbeing.
A person’s vitality is shaped by many dimensions including maintaining personal and family well-being; engaging in work with purpose and meaning; connecting and caring for others; and developing financial security for the future.
1. Eat Well
Eating well is one of the most impactful things you can do for your health. Your body performs best when it is adequately nourished. But it’s not just about what you eat; it’s also how you eat.
When it comes to eating, there’s a lot of advice out there from health professionals, wellness influencers and other experts. But it can feel overwhelming to decide how you want to eat, especially with all of the different suggestions and rules.
The key to healthy eating is choosing a balanced diet that includes foods from each of the five food groups daily in the recommended amounts. Some foods are high in unhealthy fats, salt or sugar and should be eaten occasionally (such as takeaway meals, cakes, biscuits and soft drinks). These are referred to as discretionary choices.
Choose whole grains over refined grains, add plenty of vegetables and fruit, include lean meats, fish and eggs, eat low-fat dairy and choose water and lower-fat milk. Eat smaller meals more frequently and don’t skip meals. Eat with others when possible and keep a supply of healthy snacks, such as fruit or nuts, at work or in the car. Check out CycleBar Exton general manager, nutritionist and wellness influencer Ashley Robertson’s new e-book for tips and recipes on how to fuel your body for healthy living.
2. Move Your Body
For many, the word “exercise” carries negative connotations of stress and obligation. Yet, getting daily movement is a key component of a healthy lifestyle.
If the idea of exercising fills you with dread, it is time to change your mindset. Instead of thinking of exercise as “working out,” consider renaming it to “movement.” Focusing on this simple term will help you find a form of physical activity that is fun and enjoyable.
Move your body with activities like walking, swimming, gardening, playing a sport or active play with a child or pet. Or try a fun challenge with friends to see who can clock the most pushups or squats throughout the day.
The benefits of moving your body extend beyond just the physical health of your muscles, lungs and heart. It is also a critical part of your mental wellness. When you move your body, it boosts your mood by releasing feel-good hormones and helps you better manage your stress. It can even reduce your risk of depression by lowering cortisol levels and improving blood circulation.
3. Stay Connected
Social connection is essential for health and wellbeing. While technology has taken a beating for contributing to isolation, during this time of quarantine we can utilize the tools available to us to build community and combat feelings of loneliness.
Connect with colleagues, friends and family via video conference, phone, chat or text. Join online discussion forums, social media groups, and book clubs. Laugh and share positive content with those around you, as well as post inspirational messages that can help others get through this challenging time.
Take advantage of opportunities to exercise in a group setting. Join a virtual yoga class, try a guided meditation or play a fun game of ping pong with your friends over Zoom or Google Hangouts.
Consider other ways you can support others, such as writing a letter to a friend or neighbor, or volunteering to help those in need. Research shows that when we focus on others, it has a powerful impact on our own sense of purpose and wellbeing.
Pacific source members can also check out café well, our secure member engagement portal that offers a variety of educational materials and tools to stay engaged during this challenging time. Learn more and sign up for free.
4. Sleep Well
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. It is a time when the body does important work, including restoring hormone balance, healing tissues and recharging the immune system. It also helps the brain form and store memories.
Poor sleep can cause a range of health issues, such as increased blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. It can also make it difficult to concentrate and feel energized. If you are struggling to sleep, try making some changes to your routine and see how it impacts your wellbeing.
Adults should aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Sleeping well is a critical part of our daily lives and can help us feel more productive, energetic and focused throughout the day.
A good night’s rest can help you feel more motivated to exercise and achieve your goals. If you are struggling to fall asleep, get out of bed and do a non-stimulating activity until you feel tired, such as reading or practicing a relaxation technique. It is helpful to avoid screens before bed as they can suppress melatonin production.
5. Take Care of Your Mind
If you’ve ever been so stressed that your body aches or witnessed beauty so uplifting that you felt like you were having a spiritual experience, you’ve experienced the mind-body-soul connection. While it may sound New-Agey, this concept—of well-being consisting of three distinct yet interconnected aspects—is actually grounded in science.
For starters, make sure you’re getting enough rest and addressing stress. You can also keep your mood up by regularly incorporating healthy activities that make you smile, such as spending time in nature or watching a funny movie. And try to keep in touch with friends and family.
Lastly, practice meditation or mindfulness to declutter your mind. Even if you don’t have an hour to spare, simply taking some deep breaths and making a mental note of positive thoughts can help rewire your brain for happier emotions and better coping skills.
If you’re starting to incorporate more healthy habits into your routine, consider joining Cigna’s Vitality® wellness program. You can earn points for healthy behaviors and work toward your goals with motivational challenges, articles on nutrition and fitness, and fitness tracking on your smartphone. And when you achieve your health goals, your medical plan premium could be reduced!
6. Connect With Others
When we feel connected to others, it increases feelings of belongingness, which in turn, can boost our mental and physical well-being. Research also shows that forging a strong support network can protect against depression, heart disease and even cancer.
But for many, connecting with others can be a challenge. In fact, studies have shown that some people struggle to form social relationships at all. This may stem from a variety of factors, such as poor social skills or negative experiences with previous relationships.
To connect with others, try to find ways to share your interests with them. For example, if you have a friend who loves to dance or paint, suggest joining a local yoga class or art group. In-person interactions are more effective than phone calls or emails, and they help to create a sense of shared synchronicity, which can lead to bonding.
Another way to connect is by volunteering together. This can provide a meaningful experience and also help to build new friendships. Lastly, remember to take a genuine interest in others and treat them with kindness and respect. This will ensure that they feel cared about and valued, which is what true connection is all about!
7. Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do. It’s like the oxygen mask advice you hear on airplanes – put your own mask on first before you help others. When you’re healthy, happy and feeling your best, you can better support your loved ones.
It can be hard to find time for yourself in today’s busy world. If your life feels like a whirlwind, it can be easy to cancel your personal training session or postpone meeting with a friend. This “go, go, go” approach can cause burnout unless you’re careful to recharge your batteries.
Practicing self-care can be as simple as flossing regularly or listening to a wellness podcast while you run errands. It can also be as complex as a mindfulness meditation practice or finding a yoga studio close to home. Whatever you choose to do, start small and work it into your daily routine. Aim to add it to your life at least once a week, but don’t feel like you have to do something every day. Self-care is an ongoing journey that varies in frequency and length depending on your lifestyle and goals. Ultimately, your well-being and happiness are worth it!