Healthcare is one of the dominant topics in the U.S. — specifically, the cost of healthcare. According to the CIA World Factbook, each of us spends more than $10,000 per year on healthcare costs. Much of the cost ties into the rise of chronic disease in our country. Which should make us all wonder what healthcare would cost if we were all more focused on our lifestyle choices rather than temporary “fixes.”
The goal of “wellness” can feel complicated. People are not only burnt out by the pressures of modern age but left feeling lost in a sea of information about what is and isn’t healthy; this combination of feeling frustration and overwhelmed often leads to decision paralysis.
What if I were to tell you that the road to health and wellness doesn’t have to be complicated?
Living a healthy life means making lifestyle choices that support your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. It also means having the ability to adapt and manage the physical, mental and social challenges you experience throughout your life. With any goal you want to achieve in life it’s best if you break it down into six easy steps.
The 6 Steps to Wellness:
Step 1: Eat Right
Eating right is the foundation of wellness. We can not expect to feel great and have our bodies working optimally if we aren’t providing it with the minerals and nutrients it needs.
Due to individual dietary restrictions and beliefs healthy eating can look different for each person but a general rule of thumb is stick to a more plant based diet with minimally processed foods. Although processed and packaged foods are convenient they are often stripped of nutrients and have higher fat, sugar and salt. Of course, not all packaged foods are heavily processed. You can get frozen vegetables without any added salt, or organic whole grains that are sold in a box or bags. When shopping or eating try to think about where your food comes from and how close it is to the original state. If you can’t pronounce it maybe you shouldn’t eat it.
Don’t forget to drink enough water too! Adults should be drinking at least half their body weight in ounces each day.
Step 2: Exercise
Exercise is another foundational element and, to be most effective, it should become part of your daily routine. You don’t have to have an intense workout every time — exercise can be enjoyable and fun! Try to find something that you will stick with. You can go on a 30 minute walk after dinner, maybe kick the ball with your kids, or dance for 30 minutes in your living room with your partner. If you prefer a more structured exercise regimen you can sign up for classes at your local gym and go a few times a week.
The most important point to this is to move your body. Try to take the stairs when you can, park at the far end of the parking lot, walk or ride your bike instead of driving. The key is to make movement a lifestyle habit. The best exercise for you is one that YOU will do consistently!
Step 3: Rest and Manage Stress
Rest and stress go together because if you don’t have a handle on one the other usually suffers too. Proper rest gives our bodies a chance to recover and is important for overall wellness. It also makes us more likely to function at our best. Unfortunately, stress in life isn’t going away which is why it’s so important to learn to manage it effectively. With so many options to manage stress you’ll want to experiment to find out what works best for you.
Here are a few suggestions and helpful tips:
- Implement a bedtime routine. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Get up at the same time each morning and set your intentions for the day.
- Make your bed a place free of clutter and distractions.
- Avoid using phones, tablets, or other screens at bedtime.
- Diffuse calming essential oils when feeling overwhelmed and during your bedtime routine.
- Learn to set boundaries and don’t take on more than you should.
- Set aside time for you. Work on a hobby, meditate, take a walk.
- Journal or talk about the things that are stressful in your life.
Step 4: Informed Self Care
Informed self care is the practice of educating yourself on wellness options available to you. Take the time to know what options are available to you as you step towards wellness. You know your needs and your family’s needs better than anyone.
Step 5: Reduce Toxic Load
It’s important to become conscious of the chemical burden you are exposed to on a daily basis. Toxins are currently everywhere in our environment. From the food we eat, to the products we use, even in the air we breathe; many of these toxins are inflammatory and damaging to the endocrine system and the brain. It’s impossible to eliminate exposure to toxins completely, but we can be mindful of a few things.
Here are some basic tips to reduce your toxic load:
- Upgrade your water – Purchase a water filter for your tap and shower. Filtering your tap water is much better than drinking bottled water.
- Avoid plastics – Avoid plastic water bottles, plastic for packaging and toys. To store foods and liquids, use glass or stainless steel when possible.
- Clean Green – Household cleaners are loaded with harmful chemicals that end up in the air and on surfaces. This unnecessary exposure puts stress on our bodies’ organs and can lead to an array of health issues. It’s very easy and affordable to make your own cleaner: Just mix a few tablespoons of vinegar with water and add some drops of your favorite essential oil (doTERRA On Guard is my go-to.) If you’re not into making your own you can find a non-toxic cleaner at your local health food store.
- Green Beauty – Your skin is your largest organ and what goes on it goes in it. With the average woman using about 12 personal care items a day, and with most containing hundreds of endocrine disruptors, this is a great place to start reducing your toxic load. Again, if you can’t pronounce it you probably shouldn’t put it on your skin. Replace your products with chemical-free options whenever possible.
- Go organic – Choose organic whenever possible. If going 100% organic is not possible refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and clean 15 list.
Step 6: Proactive Medical Care
Don’t wait until something happens. Take daily steps to improve your health or maintain wellness. Even though there is no magic bullet if you incorporate these basic principles as part of your daily lifestyle you will be on the right path to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness!