“Every day is a good day to make a resolution to practice self-care” is a message that Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Wellbeing Engagement Consultant Patricia Salzer, RD, believes in whole heartedly.
After a year that presented unique challenges to each of us as we moved through our wellness journey, renewing our commitment to self-care is even more important. Salzer’s recommendations are practical and achievable.
Nourish with Healthy Foods
Nourish your body with healthy foods including vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains.
“Although fruits and vegetables are usually categorized together, I always recommend focusing on vegetables first,” notes Salzer. Limit processed foods, which are typically high in sugar, salt, and added chemicals that can fuel the body’s stress response and cause inflammation.
Get Enough Sleep
Not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep each night can leave us feeling tired and lacking energy. “Lack of sleep alters hunger hormones making it more difficult to maintain healthy eating habits,” explains Salzer.
To get your sleep back on track, set and maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends.
Incorporate a relaxing ritual into your bedtime routine such as reading, journaling, or meditating. And be sure to turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
Move Every Day
One of the best things we can do for our bodies and our minds is to move throughout the day.
Think beyond your daily exercise routine and incorporate movement all day long. Look for other ways to be active such as playing with your children or pets, taking time to stretch, or simply opting to take the stairs rather than the elevator.
Take your activity outdoors. “Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure,” explains Salzer.
Be Mindful and Present
Practicing mindfulness can allow us to modify our behaviors to improve our wellbeing.
Focus on positivity and avoid negative self-talk. Salzer suggests, “talk to yourself like you are your best friend.” Using positive language and focusing on gratitude can provide a different perspective.
To preserve our mental health, we must stay connected to others. Social media can provide an option for staying connected but remember to focus on the positive.
Join social media groups that promote causes you support, follow people you admire, or post inspirational messages.
If you can participate in in-person events, family dinners, fitness classes, or religious services are healthy ways to stay connected. Lending a hand to a neighbor or checking in on a vulnerable friend can also help maintain that sense of connection.
Relax and Have Fun
Just as we make time to exercise, we need to make time to relax and have fun. Reconnect with activities you enjoy.
Some of Salzer’s suggestions include hosting a game night, looking through old photos and videos, exploring local parks and trails, or taking up a new hobby.
Connect with Your Medical Provider
Routine well-visits are an important part of maintaining your health. Be sure to keep your regularly scheduled appointments with your healthcare provider.
The journey to wellbeing is ongoing and each of us follows a unique path. Salzer reminds us, “The only ‘right way’ is the way that works for you and your family.” When making lifestyle changes, she suggests striving for progress, not perfection.