Staying healthy and well when we’re going through difficult periods in our lives is always a challenge. Whether it be grief you’re facing, illness, the illness of a loved one or something like what we’re all coping with now it can be tough to stay healthy and well.
As impossible as it may seem to manage both your physical and mental health through all of this, it can be done. Now don’t get me wrong, your health and wellness might look nothing like someone else’s and that’s ok. But giving yourself your very best right now will pay huge dividends in the future. And there’s one key to making that happen for everyone!
What’s the Difference Between Healthy and Well?
Oftentimes we see the terms health and wellness clumped together and sometimes they’re used interchangeably. There is however a huge difference and while they are interconnected and reliant on each other they aren’t the same thing.
The term health refers to your physical body. It encompasses everything from chronic disease (diabetes) and acute disease (coronavirus) to nutrition. Health is generally measurable. You can go to the doctor and have tests run to find out how healthy you are. You can also observe your own health status by recognizing the presence or absence of symptoms. That said, just because you aren’t experiencing any symptoms of illness or disease doesn’t mean a doctor’s visit is a waste of time. As we’re finding out now, many people have chronic diseases they knew nothing about.
When I use the term wellness I’m always talking about my emotional and spiritual state. This isn’t something that can be measured. It’s something you just know. You can perform a wellness check on yourself at any time. Are you struggling right now? Having trouble focusing and concentrating? Feeling sad or anxious? Perhaps you’re losing your faith? These can all be signs that you’re not feeling well.
Health and Wellness Combined
There are several concerns that can fall into both health and wellness. For example, if you have ADHD that is a health condition but will also show up in your life as a wellness concern. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise and sleep disruptions can cause problems for both health and wellness. And while mental illness can be a health condition it’s symptoms could also be caused by struggles with wellness. Grief is an excellent example of this. One may appear to have severe depression when in fact they are not suffering from any physical chemical imbalance. They are simply unwell due to the circumstances.
Right now, it’s clear that we’re all struggling in some way with health and wellness. It’s impossible not to be. And the truth is, on any given day most people are having a hard time with one or both issues anyway. So, it’s important to address them and take the time to establish some habits that will help you stay healthy and well regardless of the circumstances you may be facing!
Establish a Routine: The Key to Staying Healthy and Well
The key to staying healthy and well regardless of who you are, where you’re at in life or the circumstances you’re facing is establishing a routine. You don’t have to be a stickler about it but it makes a world of difference to have a general plan for your day. At times like these, where the days are all merging together though, being more diligent about your routine is best.
There are three basic routines you should establish for your daily life.
First, your morning routine. What you choose to do in the morning sets the precedent for the rest of your day. It literally sets you up for success and motivates you to get the rest of your routines done. Morning routines are very important to staying healthy and well, as are all routines. But if you skip it in the morning you train your brain to skip it all day long and that will undermine your success.
I often get questions about the morning routine that are related to the “right time” to do them. Really there isn’t a right time. Don’t get too hung up on the term “morning”. This is simply what you do when you get out of bed. It’s how you start your waking period. You could just as easily call it a “wake-up” routine. The most important thing about your wake-up routine is choosing the time that works best for you to wake each day. Because, yes, you should be waking at around the same time every day, even on the weekends.
Your daily routine probably looks a little different than it did before shelter in place orders went into effect. Or, maybe you’re an essential worker and it doesn’t. Both situations are difficult to navigate right now. Work often plays a major role in establishing a daily routine and when it’s gone it’s hard to know what to do. At the same time, essential workers are often struggling to manage their typical workload and the additional responsibilities at home right now. As are those who are telecommuting.
Obviously if you’re still working a large chunk of your daily routine will be carved out for that. But you also need to get things like homeschooling the kids, lines at the grocery store, and typical and additional cleaning into your schedule.
Whether you have way too much to do right now or not enough you need a daily routine to keep yourself on track! This will help you prioritize your tasks, get things done that are necessary and fill your days with purpose.
We’re always hearing so much about morning routines but what happens at night rarely gets discussed. Your ideal morning and day start the night before! Not only by setting yourself up for a successful morning but also by ensuring you get a restful night’s sleep. Having a clear and rigid (yep, I said it) bedtime routine doesn’t just help children fall asleep faster and sleep more restfully, it does the same for adults!
Just as much time and attention should be paid to establishing a great bedtime routine as morning routine.
Sleep to Stay Healthy and Well
This seems like the ideal time to talk about sleep as one of the cornerstones of staying healthy and well! Getting your optimal amount of sleep benefits both your health and wellness!
Lack of appropriate sleep can lead to serious health consequences such as stroke, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure and more. Not to mention it also depletes your immune system and makes you more likely to become ill. And lack of sleep is directly correlated to serious accidents and injuries as well.
In addition to the health consequences lack of sleep causes there are countless wellness concerns. I’m sure that I don’t have to point it out that we aren’t on our game when we haven’t gotten adequate rest! We’re irritable and emotional and much more prone to experiencing deep sorrow and anxiety when we aren’t well rested. Often, we lack the self-control necessary to be mindful or to modify our mindset and behavior. Therefore, we can easily get stuck in a terrible emotional cycle or lash out at those we love. This causes strain on relationships. Which is basically the last thing you need when you’re struggling or sleep deprived!
To ensure that you get enough sleep you need to discover how much you need (everyone is different), establish an excellent bedtime routine and take proper care of yourself throughout the day!
Move Your Body to Stay Healthy and Well
Moving is imperative to staying healthy and well and needs to be a part of your daily routine.
Unlike sleep, moving your body is a bit less rigid. It’s easiest to get it done if you do it every day at the same time. And you’ll sleep better if you don’t skip it. For health purposes though what you really need is 180 minutes of exercise a week broken up in no less than 3 sessions. Which means you could technically exercise for 1 hour a day 3 days a week rather than 30 minutes per day.
That said, for optimal wellness it’s important to move your body for 30 minutes every single day. Why? Because when you move your body you decrease cortisol, produce natural anti-inflammatories and increase endocannabinoids and endorphins. This just makes you feel better. And while it might not be extremely noticeable in the moment it makes a profound difference to your overall mood. It also gives you a feeling of accomplishment and increased confidence, body image and self-esteem.
There is no need to be rigid about the type of movement you do. Really, it could be anything. You could do some yoga or strength training, walk the dog or even have a dance party in your living room. And for those of you who are filling your time spring cleaning or doing household projects, that counts too.
I like to do something that challenges my body every day and have exercised regularly for a long time. But I still find that deep cleaning my house is challenging enough to count as a workout! Oh, and in case you’re wondering… sometimes I still hate it or don’t feel like it! I do it anyway because I know it keeps me healthy and well!
Nourish Your Body to Stay Healthy and Well
It’s pretty difficult to move your body or sleep if you’re eating garbage! Now, don’t get me wrong… you can snack. It’s ok if you sometimes have a cheat meal. I’m not telling you that you should eat clean 100% of the time. What I am saying though is you need to consume more nutrient dense food and less junk.
Minimizing sugar, packaged foods and refined carbohydrates helps prevent disease and elevates your mood! Unless you’ve been living under a rock you likely know that these foods all contribute to serious chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. You may not know that they also contribute to or worsen depression, anxiety and ADHD. Unfortunately, the extremes in blood sugar levels caused by consuming these foods leave us reeling both mentally and physically!
Focus instead on eating plenty of plants and a wide variety of them. Fruits and veggies are loaded with nutrients, prebiotics, fiber and antioxidants! They are insanely good for both your health and wellness! Not only do they provide your body with a variety of vitamins and minerals, but they also help to stave off diseases like cancer. Plus, they nourish your microbiome. And since your gut is where most of the serotonin in your body is produced this helps elevate your mood and minimize mental health symptoms.
I have discovered that it’s much easier for me to focus on what I should be eating rather than what I shouldn’t. Make it a goal in your daily routine to get in at least 6 – 7 servings of fruits and veggies a day. You’re very likely to see cravings for less healthy food wane and honestly, you’ll probably be too full to eat much of it anyway!
Connection to Stay Healthy and Well
Human connection has risen to the number one factor in lifespan! Yep, you read that right! While it’s difficult to determine the multitude of ways connection impacts our health it’s clear it’s impact on wellness. That said staying both healthy and well is at least as dependent on connection as it is on sleep, exercise, or nutrition!
How though can we stay connected in times of social distancing? We prioritize it, that’s how! Be sure to talk daily with at least one person in your community! Schedule a call, video chat or even just text one another. If you have an online community and it isn’t negatively impacting your wellness to be on social media be sure to connect there too!
While it’s always best to be able to see each other in person we can utilize technology to stay connected to those we love and make meaningful connections with others!
In addition to reaching out to your outside community be sure to spend a little extra time cuddling with, touching and hugging those you live with. Touch is extremely important to health and wellness! If you live alone spend some extra time with your pets or be sure to spend a little extra time pillow hugging every day. I know it might sound wacky, but it really will help!
Cleanliness and General Hygiene to Stay Healthy and Well
I’ve spent a lot of time writing about cleanliness and hygiene from the perspective of not over doing it but not as much about its necessity.
In times like these where we feel threatened by a microscopic organism that can literally be lurking on every surface we’re pretty committed to cleanliness. And it’s possible we might be too committed. Just to be clear here, anti-bacterial products are harmful to your health and unnecessary for killing a virus. Simple soap and water will do the trick. So, if you didn’t find bleach wipes, no worries.
It’s also perfectly ok if you aren’t using this time to do household projects or spring cleaning, that isn’t an option for many of us! That said, tidying up around the house daily can help you maintain your wellbeing and prevent accidents, and injuries. Try to establish a time every day that your family puts things back in their place!
I’m also seeing a lot of hubbub on social media about a lack of showering and dressing. While I too am enjoying more PJ time than normal, I do see the need to get myself dressed. Now, don’t get me wrong, at this point I’m only wearing jeans maybe once or twice a week and otherwise sticking to workout clothes or leggings, but I’m dressing every day. It’s important to both your health and wellness to continue proper hygiene and change your clothes. I know that it might seem useless when you can’t go anywhere anyway but it isn’t. Simply getting dressed helps provide motivation. And showering, brushing and flossing, skin care etc. bolster your mood and protect your health.
Self-Care to Stay Healthy and Well
I’m sure that by now you know that self-care isn’t selfish though you might struggle with sometimes feeling like it is! In reality self-care isn’t just connected to staying well but also to staying healthy. We tend to underestimate the impact of self-care on things like stress level, sleep quality and disease prevention. I mean seriously, baths, which are probably the most well-known self-care practice, can lower your blood pressure and blood glucose levels!
Getting self-care into your daily routine isn’t optional! That’s right… I said it… DAILY! Whether you read for 20 minutes, go for a walk, give yourself a mani-pedi or take a bath, make time for it every day! Create an excellent self-care routine!
Gratitude to Stay Healthy and Well
Gratitude is incredibly imperative to maintaining wellness. This is especially true in difficult times. Keeping yourself focused on finding things you’re grateful for every single day helps improve your mood and outlook. This makes it easier to get everything else on your list done!
Make sure that documenting at least 5 things you’re grateful for is in your daily routine! Be as specific as you can. I always challenge myself to find something to be grateful for about the challenge I’m dealing with. I find this helps me develop greater resilience. Over years of doing this I now look at every situation, no matter how awful, and automatically think what is there to be grateful for.
Making the time
In the past I’ve often found myself wishing there were 30+ hours in the day but there just aren’t! By the time we do what we’re obligated to taking on health and wellness can feel daunting! But I wanted to make it a priority… like REALLY wanted to! So, I started tracking exactly where my time was going. I wrote what I was doing at any given minute into a notebook. I meticulously tracked it just as I would track the amount of money I had in my bank account! What I came to realize is that I was spending time doing things that were far less important to me than staying healthy and well. I was shocked by the amount of time I was spending watching tv, scrolling social media and simply trying to figure out what I needed to do next!
Creating a daily routine helped me fit everything I need to do into my day (including health and wellness activities). And I still found time to do some things I wanted to do like watch tv and scroll away! So if you find that you also struggle with having enough time to fit all of this in I highly recommend a written daily routine!
Staying Healthy and Well
Staying healthy and well won’t just happen by magic. You’ll have to put some effort into it! This is especially true during struggles or challenging times! Creating a routine that includes the building blocks of health and wellness is the key to helping you stay on track. These routines are particularly important because when it comes to staying healthy and well, consistency is everything! You can’t get optimal sleep only one night a week and maintain your health and you can’t practice gratitude only once a month and create wellness. You must get each of these items into your everyday life! And while I know it can be challenging, I also know it can be done!
That’s why I created a tool to simplify the process! It includes everything you need to create your ideal morning, daily, and bedtime routines including suggested activities and those listed above. It also includes space to prioritize and game plan all the other daily tasks you have to manage like work, kids, and cooking those nutritious meals!
Get your Free eBook The Amazing Guide to Good Health & Awesome Routine Builder NOW to create your PERFECT routines!!!
You CAN achieve and maintain your optimal health and wellness regardless of what circumstances you’re facing! Don’t wait until you face a crisis, start NOW!!!
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