Why not make wellness a personal goal for the last full month of summer? August Is a great time to undo some of the indulgences (think ice cream!) that are a part of summer celebrations. Most people make resolutions to get more exercise, eat healthier, or take better care of their mental health in January as the new year begins. Why not get ahead of the curve and use National Wellness Month as your jumping-off point instead? Remember to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have health concerns or don’t exercise regularly.
Understanding your own personal barriers to wellness is the first step to making lasting change
Wellness Goal #1 – Be More Physically Active
If you find it difficult to get enough exercise, you’ve got plenty of company. Fewer than 23% of adults get enough physical activity each day, and more than 82 million Americans don’t exercise at all. The American Heart Association has identified the three main reasons people have a hard time getting enough exercise — time, energy, and motivation. But they’ve also identified possible breakthrough solutions to help you move forward.
Barrier: Not enough time
Breakthrough: Pay attention to your daily routine for a week and look for three 30-minute periods when you could exercise. Rather than wasting time driving to a gym, exercise where you are. Walking in your neighborhood, climbing the stairs in your home or building, or exercising while watching television are good time-friendly options to be more active.
Barrier: Not enough energy
Breakthrough: If you’re not a morning person then a morning exercise routine probably won’t stick. Figure out when you feel the most awake and energetic. Plan to work some activity into your days at that time.
Barrier: Not enough motivation
Breakthrough: Tell your friends and family members about your wellness goals. Invite them to join you or at least support your effort by giving you time to exercise. Finding like-minded people to exercise with you will keep everyone accountable.
Wellness Goal #2 – Eat Healthier
A healthy diet can help you stay at your recommended weight and could also help manage or prevent chronic health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. The nutrition experts at LiveStrong found that changing old habits was the biggest barrier to eating healthy. When you consider that it takes three weeks for a new habit to stick, undoing an old habit may take far longer. Time is another barrier to healthy eating, and the cost of healthy foods can also be a challenge.
LiveStrong offers the following breakthroughs to help you enjoy a healthier diet.
Barrier: Breaking old eating habits
Breakthrough: Keeping a food journal can help you pinpoint when and why you eat certain foods or when you eat too much or too little. You will probably start to see patterns in what you eat and why after just a few days. Food satisfies all sorts of emotional needs for many of us. Acknowledging what triggers unhealthy eating habits is a big step toward taking control.
Barrier: Not enough time to plan, shop for, and prepare healthy meals
Breakthrough: Find one hour on the same day each week to plan your meals. It gets easier after you’ve done it a few times! Use an online shopping service with a pick-up or delivery option to save time at the store. Save meal prep time by buying pre-cut ingredients like frozen fruits and vegetables.
Barrier: Eating healthy is too expensive
Breakthrough: Having a plan can help you save money as well as time. Sign up for grocery store emails or newsletters to know what’s on sale. Plan one or two (or more) veggie-based dinners each week. Again, look to convenient frozen foods that let you cook and eat just what you need and save the rest for another meal to avoid food waste.
Wellness Goal #3 – Feel Better Mentally — and Physically
Too often, our mental health and wellbeing takes a back seat to our physical health. The biggest barrier to caring for your whole self is acknowledging that you may need help to do so. A prominent mental health organization in the UK developed a list of 10 breakthrough ways to be kind to your mind:
- Talk about your feelings – Talking with a friend or family member can make a world of difference.
- Stay active – Physical activity can help keep depression at bay and lift your spirits.
- Eat well – A healthy diet benefits your mind as well as your body.
- Drink sensibly – Alcohol can impact sleep and mood. Know your limits.
- Keep in touch – Staying in touch by phone, email, chat, or in person keeps us connected to the world and each other.
- Ask for help – If you’re struggling, be sure to get professional help, especially for depression and anxiety.
- Take a break – Some days, it can feel good to just “be” and not make any plans or have a schedule.
- Do something you’re good at – Having a sense of accomplishment can be a real mood booster.
- Accept who you are – Just be you.
- Care for others – It feels good to give your time to people or a cause you care about.
Ease into the Changes you’d Like to Make in your Life and Lifestyle
If it’s more exercise you’re after, make time to swim a little more in the afternoon or walk a little longer in the morning. If you want to eat healthier, make a plan so that shopping for and preparing a meal is less stressful and time consuming. If you want to be more at peace with yourself and the world, take time to reflect on what we’ve been through as humans, and look forward to what’s ahead — refreshed and rejuvenated.