How to Take Care of Yourself
Many of us fall pray to abusing something that is vital to our well-being: our bodies. We ignore bodily cries for nourishment in favor of simple but often harmful antidotes. We combat sleep deprivation with caffeine, we choose television over exercise, and we fuel ourselves with junk-food in favor of healthier choices. Nourishing our bodies is paramount to well-being. Proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition provide us with a myriad of benefits and helps to combat stress, ease depression, and boost our mood.
While we need around 7-8 hours of sleep to function at optimal levels, on average, adults get approximately 60-90 minutes less sleep than what is desirable. Insufficient sleep leads to irritability, mood swings, relationship problems, and poor decision-making. Some of us don’t get enough sleep due to the allure of staying up late with our i-pods, television, and internet. Many of us simply cannot put our worries aside and toss and turn in bed, as a result. The majority of us have inconsistent bedtimes, depending on the demands of the day, that ultimately interfere with a restful night’s sleep. Sleep gives the body and mind a chance to replenish itself. To experience your highest levels of wellness, you need to give your body the sleep it craves. Happy people lead active lives but allow themselves the rest they need to refuel. Establishing a healthy sleep routine and sleep hygiene behaviors can often cure the majority of sleep disturbances.
Did you know that physical exercise is as effective in fighting moderate levels of stress and depression as anti-depressants or cognitive-behavioral therapy? Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. Your self-esteem may experience a boost as well as you'll look and feel better. The added payoff to a well conditioned cardiovascular system is that it provides a boost to your energy level and allow you fall into a deeper, more restful slumber. Figuring out the kind of exercise that fits into your lifestyle and that you enjoy is a good first step. Developing a fitness program, setting goals for yourself, and documenting your efforts can help you overcome obstacles along the way.
Eating is an activity that most of us relish and eating well can make us less irritable, more energized and supports good health. There are many steps you can take to incorporate positive eating habits into your lifestyle. Educating yourself on what foods comprise a healthy diet is paramount to this. By tracking what you eat each day, you may be surprised by which food groups you are eating too much from and which groups you need to indulge in more. Many of us will find that we need to reduce our intake of fat, sugar and salt and increase the amount of fiber, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that we consume. By paying such close attention to what you put in your mouth, you may also start to notice that you are eating for reasons other than hunger, such as boredom, stress or fatigue. An honest assessment of your daily food choices and habits will give you the facts you need to begin making changes!
Exercise #1: Sleep environment/sleep routine check-list: Review the results of the sleep environment/sleep routine check-list. What can you do to improve the quality and quantity of the sleep that you get?
Exercise #2: Best Personal Fitness Program Questionnaire: Answer a series of questions to determine which exercises you would most enjoy, how to gain maximum pleasure from the experience, what obstacles you anticipate and how you might overcome them, and how you can regularly build exercise into your weekly schedule.
Exercise #3: Setting Exercise Goals: Set both short and long-term goals for your fitness regimen. Short-term goals could include how many times you want to exercise per week, amount of time you’d like to exercise, as well as the variety of exercises that you would like to aim for. Long-term goals could include training for a run, beating your personal push-up record, or being able to complete an entire aerobics class. Be sure to build in rewards for reaching your goals as well as document the obstacles that interfere with you accomplishing your goals.
Exercise #4: Keeping a Nutrition Log: Keep a record of everything you drink and eat for the next 7 days. Record the circumstances surrounding when you eat including the time of day, the setting, whether you were hungry, and what you were feeling.