With the onset of the pandemic came a certain degree of uncertainty about all aspects of our lives. Many of us have been in some semblance of a holding pattern since March 2020. Some have laid aside scheduled visits to the gym. Others have stopped eating at restaurants altogether, and any number of folks can’t remember the last time they watched the latest blockbuster in a movie theater. For some in person church visits are yet to resume. It’s as if we’re waiting for a dark cloud cover to lift and a bad storm to pass so we can get on with our lives.
Now, with the number of COVID cases on the decline and mask wearing mandates being relaxed, we can see a glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel. Although in its infancy stage, we are beginning to resume a state of normalcy in our day to day living. That being the case, its the perfect time to refocus on our health and get back on track with a healthier routine.
A healthy lifestyle includes how you move your body, how you feel about yourself, how you socialize, how you rest, and more. It’s not only what we put on our plates. Needless to say I'm not an expert on the topic, but I’ve done the research and determined seven of the best health options for getting back on track with a healthier lifestyle.
1. Try meditation
There are so many reasons to try meditation It can help decrease stress, improve focus, lower blood pressure and even reduce risk of certain diseases. In addition to spending time in Biblical scriptures, try an app like MyLife for guided meditations. Or you can even do a walking meditation, a form of mindfulness meditation practiced everywhere. Check out easy-to-follow guides on the internet. A few minutes of walking meditation can leave you feeling calm, centered and collected for a happier, healthier you, both mentally and physically.
2. Cut down on screen time
Smart phones are incredibly powerful and convenient. In actuality, they are handheld computers. That in itself can be a good thing and a bad thing. I know I have often fallen victim to “just checking my email really quick” and
before I know it, I’m on the Internet net or scrolling social media for 30 minutes or more. After which, I’m more focused on all of the information I've just taken in and sometimes even feeling a bit stressed from it all. Yes, there are a lot of reasons to keep screen time in check. Research has linked media consumption to higher stress levels, greater fear, heightened anxiety and even sadness. If you need help with reducing screen time, try setting reminders on apps that tell you to put your phone down and get up for a break. You can also set your phone to give you screen time reports to track your use.
3. Find a type of exercise you actually love
Instead of thinking of exercise as a chore to complete, shift your focus to seeing it as a wellness opportunity. Try different types of movement until you find something that you really enjoy and look forward to. This might be yoga, dancing, lifting weights, swimming,walking or even a combination of different exercises. According to a study published December 15, 2021 in the journal, Aging, older adults between age 65 and 89 who stayed active with a variety of activities—rather than focusing on just one type of movement—had lower risk of developing dementia during their lifetimes. Choosing to move in ways you enjoy will help you get more exercise without even realizing it. It’s a win-win!
4. Schedule regular social time
Over the last two years, many of us have fallen away from our typical social schedules (me included). As humans, we are inherently social creatures, and having regular social time is key to feeling supported and maintaining strong relationships with those we care about. Regularly scheduled time for recreation and other social outlets can translate into longevity and healthier aging, too. This might mean having at least one day a week where the whole family has dinner together. Or it can mean getting together with a friend, either in person or virtually with phone and video calls. Whatever and however, we need to be intentional about regularly engaging in social time.
5. Drink more water
We’ve all heard the benefits of increased water intake and staying hydrated. It would behoove use to keep a container of water with us at all times. It will make it so easy to casually sip water all day. We'll be more hydrated without even realizing it, which can lead to better brain health, a healthier heart, better kidney function and much more. It's a free and easy way to improve your health overall.
6 . Eat more vegetables
Many fad diets focus on things you should cut out or avoid. Rather than focus on restrictions make healthy eating a lifestyle by adding more vegetables to your plate. Vegetables are versatile in flavor and function, and can be added to every meal. Not to mention, they are super nutritious and loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eating more vegetables can fight inflammation, reduce chronic disease risk, improve blood pressure, protect your brain and much more. Consider replacing french fries with with a side salad when eating that hamburger. Avoid extra starches and replace them with a side salad. Just this small change can work wonders for helping to reach your goal of good health.
7. Schedule time to rest
If you're like me and are constantly adding things to your personal and professional to-do lists, you’ll want to pay close attention to this option. It’s so important to take some time to do nothing on a regular basis. Resting is something we all could be better about. I personally run high energy, and I had to learn the hard way that always going one million miles per hour can lead to chronic stress and burnout. It's important to take some time to slow down before it gets to that point. By the way, rest is not something to feel guilty about. In fact, it can only help you to schedule time to take breaks for yourself. It’s called it self care.
As we considers and take advantage of the these options, let us recognize that although we see the light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to the COVID and pandemic, we are not at the end of the tunnel. I’m fortunately new variants presenting all the time. We must continue to exercise precautions and safety measures. It not over, ‘til it’s over. Stay safe.