WORDS | DR. KAREN PRENTICE D.O. F.A.A.P., MEDICAL EXPERT
How many of you have considered your overall wellness? Do you feel well? What does wellness mean to you?
According to The Alliance Institute of Integrative Medicine, wellness is not only good physical and mental health, but “emotional stability, clear thinking, the ability to love, create, embrace change, and experience a continuing sense of spirituality.”
This may sound complicated, but if you break it down it is pretty simple. This article is intended to empower you to enjoy wellness through exploring your spirituality, enriching your family and social support, getting good sleep, exercising, spending time in nature, eating a healthy diet, and surrounding yourself with positive experiences and thoughts.
Spirituality/Faith: Medical studies tell us that people who have a faith belief system are less likely to suffer from self-destructive behaviors such as smoking, drugs, alcohol abuse, and suicide. Having spirituality in your life also promotes good health by boosting your immune system and reducing depression and anxiety. Take some time to explore what you believe in.
Social Support/Family/Friends: According to Greek Philosophy, humanity can be differentiated from other forms of life by our deep need to associate with others. We need friendship, family, a sense of belonging, and human touch! A hug or touch on the shoulder from a loved one can lower blood pressure, decrease pain, and elevate mood. Spend some time with those you love and give them a hug!
Sleep: A good night’s sleep helps the body heal and fight off illness. In fact, as we sleep our body clears brain waste metabolites which if not cleared can lead to decreased concentration, stress, anxiety, and illness. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Shut off all electronics one hour before bed and get them out of your bedroom. Studies show that the blue light emitted from electronics inhibits our sleep.
Exercise: We all know exercise is good for our bodies, but did you know it can make you happy? Exercise is critical for good mental health reducing depression and anxiety, helping us to focus better, and decreasing our risk of illness. Try to get one hour of enjoyable exercise per day. Split up your exercise between cardio or heart pumping activity and muscle building activity such as yoga, Pilates, or weight lifting. Sports are a great way to combine all exercise types that you need.
Nature: Studies show spending time in nature helps us stay calm, improves our self-esteem and our overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, most of us are nature-deprived. Take a walk, ride a bike, go hiking, garden, or just sit outside and read a book.
Nutrition: Eating a healthy diet not only reduces our risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes but it also improves our mental wellbeing. Here is a breakdown of what your body needs every day: 4-5 servings of vegetables and 3-4 servings of fruit (organic if possible); 3-4 servings of food that contains calcium and vitamin D such as milk, yogurt and cheese; 5 servings of whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa or whole intact or cracked grain bread; 3 servings of protein foods per day such as beans, nut butter, fish, tofu or chicken. Eight to ten glasses of water per day totaling around 2 Liters (more if you are working out a lot or spending time in the heat).
Positive Thoughts/Activities: Focus your mind on positive thoughts, friends, and activities that bring you joy and help you to grow. To paraphrase my favorite verse, “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Appreciate what makes you unique and wonderful and be the best you that you can be.