Wellness – it’s the Holy Grail of modern life. For many of us, living a happy, healthy and authentic life is a coveted and at times unattainable goal. In a desperate bid to maintain a balance between all the aspects of our lives we often overextend and over-commit ourselves. Thing is, our health is usually the one aspect that falls into the "I’ll focus on that tomorrow" category. For most of us, that "tomorrow" rarely arrives. We need to reassess our thinking. Our health and our well-being should be our top priority. Once that’s in check, all the other elements will just fall into place – or at least will be easier to maintain. Is this something you might be interested in? I’m pretty sure I just heard a collective, "hell yes!" If so, read on for a simple step-by-step guide to achieving wellness.
It’s time to clear out all the crap. I’m talking about all the unnecessary stuff we pour into our bodies. That means saying goodbye to all processed, packaged, bottled, take-out and toxic food. No more sugar, salt, bad fat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine or sodas. It’s even a good idea to kick meat and meat products, if you think you can handle it. Once your body is free of all the sludge that is weighing it down, it will be able to perform at its optimum. You will think better, feel better, look better and you will be able to listen to the real needs and wants of your body.
So you’ve given up all the nasties. That’s awesome! Now it’s time to replenish your cells with good, wholesome, nourishing foods. Fresh, organic, living fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are where it’s at. These guys are your medicine. Embrace them with open-arms, and maybe a few herbs and spices. Vegetables, grains and legumes are rich in micronutrients and packed with antioxidants that fight disease and slow the ageing process. They also contain considerable amounts of fiber, which helps keep your digestive system healthy, slows blood sugar responses and keeps cholesterol levels in check. Love them, live them and reap the many, many benefits.
Increase your level of awareness. The mind and the body are ultimately linked. When we’re paying attention to our bodies we also tend to make better lifestyle choices. We have lower levels of stress and improved mental clarity. How do we achieve mindfulness? The best way is through meditation – whatever form takes your fancy. By taking time out each day to sit in peace and quiet and connect with ourselves we are able to be more aware of what’s going on in our bodies – emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Adequate exercise is one of the most important tools in enhancing mental and physical health. If the benefits could be patented and put into a pill, it would cost a fortune and people would be lining up for it. On the other hand, lack of physical inactivity can lead to a host of illnesses including heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, depression and obesity. Find a form of exercise that you love, that way it won’t be a chore. For me, I love yoga. A bit of bending and stretching every day, followed by a walk around the block with my dog, and that’s exercise crossed off my to-do list.
Sleep affects us in a lot of ways including our melatonin, mental health, immunity and stress response. Lack of sleep has been associated with high blood pressure and heart problems, it can reduce your mental alertness and it messes with your glucose tolerance, endocrine function and hormone production. It increases your levels of cortisone, a hormone that in high levels can lead to many age-related problems and even cancer. Sleep deprivation also makes you moody and blurs your judgment.
6. Social connections
Human beings by nature are very social. Ever since we first existed we have joined together in hunting and gathering groups and eventually communities. Our survival and productivity depends largely on our ability to live and work as one. Because of this, connectedness is deeply etched into our natures genetically, psychologically, socially and behaviourally. Social isolation can lead to physical and mental disharmony. On the other hand, feeling connected does wonders for your emotions and outlook on life. Surrounding yourself with a circle of love and support will enhance your ability to cope with stress and illness.
The most important thing we can do for ourselves and our health is become educated. You don’t have to have a Masters degree or anything. All you need to do is pick up a few books, start reading informative websites such as this one and ask lots of questions. The best way to take control of your health is by understanding how your body works and how different elements of life affect it.