It seems that every day we are bombarded with new research regarding health and wellness—about what we should be doing to achieve it and what daily habits will surely sabotage it. It can become overwhelming trying to keep up with the barrage of heath tips and warnings, so much so that many of us just throw up our hands and give up even trying to be healthy.
In reality, achieving overall wellness is really not that complex a task. Instead of paying attention to every little newsflash and report and trying to adhere to the advice, why not simplify your efforts by following a short self-care daily checklist of actionable steps? Improving physical and mental wellbeing is not that difficult when you just stick to some simple healthy daily habits.
The Building Blocks of Attaining Overall Wellness
When we speak of attaining wellness it is important to point out that there are several aspects to overall health and wellness. By understanding the different dimensions of wellness you will grasp the holistic mind-body-spirit big picture view of what you are aiming for, as well as what daily practices contribute to attaining it.
It is a fact that by caring for your physical wellbeing you will be positively impacting your mental health as well. These two dimensions are intertwined and symbiotic, so if physical health is being neglected your emotional wellbeing will suffer also, and vice versa. There are different lists available regarding the different dimensions of wellness, but this one published by SAMHSA offers the most comprehensive collection of wellness components we should be aiming to recognize, address, and improve in order to benefit physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Creating New Healthy Habits
So now that we understand how different areas of our lives can impact our overall wellness, the challenge is to create a simplified, digestible daily checklist of healthy habits that can have a positive effect on the mind, body, and spirit. How can we integrate these habits smoothly into our daily routines? How long will that take?
Back in the 1950s a plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz became aware of a trend among his patients. Without fail, these patients would adapt to their new face in three weeks, or 21 days. In realizing this pattern, he began to pay attention to his own time period required when adapting to some new habit. As a result of these musings he wrote a book called Psycho-Cybernetics detailing this human behavioral pattern, which went on to sell about 30 million copies.
In essence, humans need approximately 21 days to establish a new habit—which certainly would include acquiring new daily healthy habits. For those first days it is a struggle to remember to do the new desired behavior, to break an old routine or bad habit takes time. But if the effort is made for three weeks, that new habit should be formed and performing it will become second nature.
With this in mind, it helps to make a physical reminder at the beginning of this effort, just to help you stay on track. Create a reminder alert on your phone, attach a sticky note to your computer and refrigerator, and soon you will be enjoying the fruits of your discipline.
Your Daily Self-Care Checklist
Eat a healthy breakfast. If you want to begin your day on the right foot, be sure to include eating a nutritious breakfast. Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day, “breaking the fast” of sleep time and fueling up the body for productivity, cognitive focus, decision-making, physical stamina, and all the demands of the day. Even those who detest eating breakfast should at least each a banana and a fistful of nuts or a protein bar. For those who enjoy a good breakfast, stick to whole grain cereals or breads, fresh fruits, eggs, and ___
Move your body. Getting up and moving is absolutely essential in promoting optimum wellness across the wellness spectrum. An early morning job, an afternoon walks, a hike on the weekend, a weight-lifting session at the gym, and a dance cardio class are all excellent ways to get the endorphins up and stress levels down—all while toning and trimming your body. Sit at work all day? Try alternating with a stand-up desk. Take short walk-around breaks every hour and take a walk around the block on your lunch break.
Nurture your relationships. Our social network has nothing to do with the number of friends on Facebook or followers on Instagram. Authentic social relationships are those that involve face-to-face interaction, handshakes, hugs, eye-to-eye contact, smiles, laughter, and empathy. Family relationships, both immediate family and extended family, should be nourished like caring for a beautiful flower in the garden. Romantic relationships and marriage partnerships need to be nurtured to ensure continual deep connective emotional bonding.
Tackle stress. Stress is the number one threat to our health. Chronically elevated cortisol, the stress hormone, is responsible for a multitude of serious medical and mental health conditions. Add effective stress-reducing activities to your day. Practice mindfulness, deep breathing techniques, take a yoga class, get a massage, listen to a podcast on guided meditation, take a leisurely walk—all these activities will enhance relaxation and reduce stress in your life.
Learn something new. As we age we often get stuck in a rut. We forget how to reach for new goals or to try new activities. Integrate the practice of learning about something new or actually doing something outside your comfort zone. Pick up a hobby you have always been interested in—take up cycling, golf, painting, sailing, paddleboarding, knitting, or jewelry making—and push past fear of failure to break through to a genuine sense of accomplishment.
Take time for reflection. When it comes to our spiritual selves, each individual may have an entirely different definition about what they believe. Spirituality is an important and essential aspect to overall wellbeing, but how that is defined is up to each person. Set aside some time every day for meditating, prayer, journaling, reflection, or reading spiritual books. This quiet time can lead to important new insights and personal growth that will lead to overall improved wellbeing.
Get good sleep. Our busy lives often bleed into the hours when we should be powering down and getting some quality sleep. When we give sleep short-shrift is has a negative impact on all aspects of wellness. Not getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night can leave us feeling depleted, mentally foggy, unable to make decisions, less productive on the job, and generally grumpy. Make a new healthy sleep routine that includes a regular sleep schedule, limit caffeine in the afternoon, no late night snacking, and putting electronic devices on silent and face down by 9pm.
About the Author
Marissa Katrin Maldonado has been working in the behavioral healthcare industry for over 12 years. She is the founder of The Treatment Specialist, a national online resource and helpline for those seeking inpatient and outpatient rehab for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, addiction, dual diagnosis, and most other mental health conditions. Dedicated to guiding individuals to the help they seek, Marissa believes that with the right support and guidance, those struggling will have the opportunity to turn their lives around and enjoy a healthy and happy life. She is a proud mother and wife and enjoys long distance running, traveling, and music.
Photo Licensed by Adobe Stock
Guest Post by: Marissa Katrin Maldonado