Wellness has become a bit of a buzzword these days, but what does it really mean? Clearly, it has to do with being well, but in order to achieve true wellness, we have to dig a little deeper.
Wellness is a state of being healthy in the mind, body, and soul. You can work intensely on your physical fitness, but if you ignore your mental health, your body still will not be well.
Wellness is a holistic concept that you must approach from every angle. It’s okay to take baby steps, but be sure to touch on the body and mind and soul.
Things that are good for your body include proper nutrition, physical exercise, and personal hygiene. Things that are good for your mind include reading, learning and having positive experiences.
When you take care of the soul, that’s when it gets interesting. The things that are good for your soul are the things that make you happy. Laughter is one great way to nourish your soul.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore 5 actionable ways to incorporate wellness into your life.
1. Purge your bad habits
Now is a great time to sit back and reflect on what you’re doing that’s holding you back from living a better, happier life. Most of us have something. It may be something obvious, like smoking, drinking or doing drugs. Or it may be something more subtle, like binge-watching Netflix every night instead of doing something more productive.
Any bad habit will be difficult to stop. You have to commit and try to replace the pattern with something healthier. But if you're dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction, don't attempt this alone. Medication-assisted therapy programs can help you recover with minimal disruption to your everyday life. Help is out there.
2. Commit to 30 minutes of exercise
Even if you’ve been living the couch life up until now, 30 minutes probably sounds attainable, right? Well, it gets better. You don't have to kill yourself in those 30 minutes to boost your wellness. If you're starting from nothing, take a 30-minute walk every day. Easy, right?
Once you’ve mastered that, add a moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening activity at least twice a week. That’s the minimum recommendation from the American Heart Association.
If you’re currently doing this much or more, you’re on the right track. Keep up the good work!
Meditation is one way to take care of your mind, body, and soul in one fell swoop. Studies have shown that meditation can have a positive effect on symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can affect the body or mind. A 2014 John’s Hopkins Medicine research review found that 30 minutes of meditation daily may be effective against anxiety and depression beyond the placebo effect.
Thirty minutes of meditation may sound like an eternity, but you don't have to start there. Try meditating for 5 minutes every day. Once you feel good about your 5-minute meditation, up it to 10-minutes. You can continue increasing until you get to 30 or stay wherever feels best for you.
When it comes down to it, wellness is about feeling good. In order to get there, you have to take care of your body and mind, but you also need to have some fun.
Make sure you’re spending time with family and friends. Think about the last time you laughed from the gut. If it has been a while, it’s time to do something that brings you joy.
5. Find healthy outlets for stress
As you continue your journey towards wellness, stress will naturally become easier to handle. But it will still be there. You won’t magically become immune to feeling anxious in the moments before you give a big presentation or when you’re sending your child off to school for the first time.
For these moments, you’ll need some healthy coping mechanisms. Breathing exercises are a great way to keep stress levels down in the moment. Take deep, slow and deliberate breaths. This will slow your heart rate and help you achieve something closer to calm.
As you start making changes, remember that wellness is a journey. Strive for progress.
About Rachel O’Conner
Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California. Over the course of her career, she has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga.
Inspired? Register for the Race for Wellness to start your fitness journey! The Race can be done from anywhere in the world and lasts September 15th to October 15th. Set your own goals and contribute to a great cause!