Self-Preservation (Part Five of a 5 Part Series)
Develop and practice healthy living habits.
Maintaining our health should be our first priority, before our daily to-do’s - as if we aren’t healthy, we can not be successful in any other area of life.
The three the basics to stay healthy is food, sleep, and. exercise.
Exercise - Regular physical activity reduces health risks and lessens stress.
Some of the benefits of exercise include:
Reduced stress levels.
Improved focus and memory
Increase your energy levels
Weight loss and increased self-esteem
Distraction you from negative thoughts
Don't be overwhelmed by the idea of exercise - start with a few short sessions each week which you can gradually build it up. Generally, 20-30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times per week is recommended but even three 10 minute sessions of brisk walking may do. Set your exercise goal to be realistic and attainable. Keep it simple and most important, you should enjoy it!
Healthy diet - what you eat, and how much, is a big part of any successful self-care plan. You can not enjoy emotional, physical, and cognitive health if you are deprived of good nutrition. Some benefits of eating a healthy diet:
Your body absorbs the vitamins and minerals needed to stay well.
Healthy foods add to the controlling of your stress levels
Brainy foods add to brain functions that control learning and memory.
Healthy foods add to weight loss and increased self-image.
Developing an achievable eating plan - It is easy to make changes to what you are eating but remember that commitment and patience are required when breaking bad habits and establishing new, in all areas of life.
Some ideas how to start eating healthy includes:
- If you have a medical condition you should seek advice from your dietician for specific dietary recommendations.
Eat Regular Small Meals Throughout the Day
- Eat regular, small meals throughout the day. This way your brain will have a steady supply of glucose and you will not be getting too hungry, and overeats. Start with three bigger main meals, and three snacks spaced evenly trough the day. See how it works for you and makes changes as required, but keep it regular.
- Keep some healthy snacks on hand for days you are on the go. This way you can bring your food with you and still eat healthily and at your regular eating time. Protein snacks are always a winner as it feeds your body and doesn't add to unnecessary weight gain.
- Don’t EVER skip breakfast. You will experience lower energy levels and a lack of motivation trough the day. You will also be more prone to overeating and unnecessary snacking which may add to weight gain.
- As all know, drinking plenty of water is recommended. Limit caffeinated beverages like coffee to four cups per day. Cut out sugary and fizzy drinks like sodas and energy drinks, which lead to a drop in energy level and mood, and also have a negative effect on your health on the longer term.
- Limit junk food (actually you should aim to cut it out completely)
- Eat slowly. It takes twenty minutes for your brain to signal fullness. Enjoy each bite and avoid overeating by stopping before you feel full. You should feel that you still have space for more and then stops.
- Regulate portion size. Use a smaller plate and dish up with a smaller spoon.
It might be a good idea to start a food journal if you feel that it can help you assess your current eating habits, and track your progress with your new eating plan.
Regular good sleep is essential for good health, lower stress levels and to restore energy you used during the day. Most adults need an average of seven to eight hours of sleep per night
Sleep - How can you have a better night's sleep?
- Stop using electronic devices 30 minutes before you go to bed. (cell phone, laptop, TV, iPad etc) The light from these devices lets your brain think it is still day time, blocking melatonin which can help you fall asleep. Rather relax with a paperback or listen to relaxing music.
- No caffeine before bedtime.
- Avoid heavy meals near bedtime.
- Try to get a regular sleep pattern, go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day, on weekends you may wake up an hour later.
- Darken your room and keep it cool.
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live" - Jim Rohn
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