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When talking about health, we usually have this grand scheme map out in front of us, (maybe) filled with pictures we see online, in magazines or on TV, featuring people running, eating salads and saying no to burgers. Am I right?
But, when it comes down to breaking the notion of “Health” into small, doable tasks, we tend to stick to the classics: eat right and exercise. But, the thing is, it’s not just about that, it’s also about sleeping well and allowing yourself to unwind and de-stress after a long day or week.
Let’s break it down into small tasks, shall we?
There’s more to it than just jumping into bed and closing your eyes. You need to set a semi-strict schedule for yourself (I say semi-strict because, let’s be honest, every day is different and you cannot fall asleep at exactly 11 pm each night). While it’s true that you will have nights when you’ll feel like you have way too much energy to fall asleep at a certain hour, and nights when you’ll be asleep way before the time you set for yourself, it is important that you set a time at which you will go to bed.
The more you will hold yourself accountable and you will make yourself go to bed at, let’s say 11 pm, the easier it will become for you, each night. Your body will accommodate to your new schedule, and you will start noticing that when 11 pm rolls around, you will already feel in the mood for sleeping.
Also, keep in mind that your body needs sleep to regenerate and recuperate, so a solid 7 hours of sleep would be ideal each night. However, you need to find out what works best for you, because everyone is different, and while my body functions properly with 6-7 hours of sleep, yours might function at its best on 8-9, or 5-6 hours of sleep.
Lastly, I kept reading about “No-gadgets evening”, as it seems to become more and more popular. The whole idea behind pretty much all the articles I read, was that the light from your phone, or tablet, or laptop, or TV, etc, is preventing your body from getting in the “wind down state”. What this means is that, your body will be fully alert up until you will put down your gadget, instead of preparing itself for sleep by relaxing and reducing your heart rate. This leads to an agitated sleep, and you will wake up groggy and cranky.
We’re not talking about a certain diet, like Dukan or Atkins. We are talking about the nutrients you are feeding your body with, or lack thereof.
A diet based on the primary food groups, including foods which are processed as little as possible, is what the body needs. Even when you are craving sweets or salty foods, it means that your body is lacking a certain nutrient, which can still be satisfied with a non-processed snack, rather than chips or skittles.
Below, you will find the food pyramid, which contains the whole-foods the body needs, along with the frequency with which you should be eating them.
A healthy diet includes all food categories, even sweets (with moderation), because cutting out a whole group means cutting out a whole source of nutrients.
No one expects you to start lifting weights and become a bodybuilder (although, if this is what you want, go for it 🙂 all I’m saying is that you don’t have to become one, in order to be healthy).
Exercising in order to get healthy (or maintain your health) can mean taking a long walk in the morning (or evening, if you’re not a morning person… I know I’m not), going to the gym and getting your blood moving and your heart rate up for half an hour, or just swimming for an hour.
The possibilities are endless, and if you find an activity you love, exercising will seem less like a chore and more like an investment in yourself, which is awesome, because this is exactly what it is.
Even yoga, if done right, can be the perfect way to stretch and keep your body flexible, while working out your muscles.
A few years ago, when I thought of exercising, I thought of it as a burden, something I had to do so my mom would stop yapping her mouth. Now, I found a few activities I enjoy doing at the gym, and I can honestly say I’m excited to go there (who would’ve thought?)
The de-stressing part
I saved the best for last.
De-stressing can take a lot of forms, and can be done in a lot of ways. Of course, only you will know what works best for you.
I, for one, recommend music, or meditation, soaking for an hour in a hot bath, reading, or taking a walk (it could help clear out your mind).
When it comes to relaxing, the activities and possibilities are endless, as are the benefits. Like I said in my first post of the year (you can read it HERE), you can’t pour from an empty cup, which means you need to relax, first of all, for yourself.
So, next time you feel stressed and overwhelmed, make sure you take some time for yourself and say a big fat “NO!” to anyone who tries to tell you that you don’t need a time-out.