Being the healthiest version of yourself is not just about diet and exercise; it's a holistic approach that encompasses your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In our guide to overall wellness, we explore the habits, environment, and mindset that can steer you toward becoming the healthiest and happiest version of you!
Take Care of Your Body
Maintaining a well-functioning body is crucial to your overall mental and physical wellbeing. Observing your food selections, maintaining adequate physical activity, and managing your weight are key to ensuring your body looks, feels, and works its best!
1. Get Active
Experts recommend adults get at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate physical activity a week. Need help finding time your schedule? Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car at the far end of the parking lot, or take a walk on your lunch break. (5)
2. Stay Strong
As you age, you may start to lose muscle mass, which can lead to weakness and accidents. Building muscle safely requires a balanced and mindful approach. Start slowly, especially if you haven’t been active for a long time. Pay attention to your body and use small amounts of weight to start. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and find a group class or trainer for additional assistance. (5)
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
A balanced and nutritious diet includes a variety of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit foods low in vitamins and minerals and cut down on sugar intake. (5) Be mindful when consuming foods high in salt and opt for fresh poultry, fish, and meat instead of canned, smoked, or processed alternatives. (5)
4. Sleep Tight
Sleep is foundational to your health and influences your physical and mental function. Establishing a consistent sleep routine, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and practicing good sleep hygiene such as limiting screen time and avoiding stimulants before bed, can help you sleep better. (2)
5. Build Healthy Habits
When building healthy habits, plan, set realistic goals, and track your progress. The key is to move with joy and purpose, making it a sustainable part of your lifestyle. Lifestyle changes are not made overnight. Be patient with yourself and consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist for personal guidance.
Create A Healthy Environment
While we can’t always control where we live, work, or play, our surroundings are significant to our overall well-being. Regular cleaning and safety testing doesn't just enhance the look of your home—it can improve your physical and mental health.
1. Disinfect Surfaces
Cleaning surfaces that are touched frequently helps kill germs that linger on countertops, doorknobs, light switches, and cabinet handles.
2. Clear the Air
Dust, allergens, and pollutants build up in a home over time, affecting indoor air quality and potentially leading to health issues.
Remember to dust using a damp rag, use a wet mop to clean floors, and vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. (1) To minimize mold, use vent fans in rooms with lots of moisture, like bathrooms. If you find mold, wear a mask, gloves, and goggles, and use hot, soapy water to clean it off walls or fabric. Maintain good ventilation in your home—especially while cleaning—by opening a window or using a fan.
3. Reduce Allergens
Reduce indoor allergens by keeping your humidity levels low, washing your bedding in hot water once a week, and vacuuming your floors once a week to control dust mites and mold. Keep outdoor allergens to a minimum by limiting your time outdoors when pollen counts are high and staying indoors with windows closed. (1) Upon entering your home, wash your hair and clothes to avoid bringing pollen inside. Don’t forget to wash your furry friends—they can carry pollen in, too! (1)
4. Check Your Products
Be mindful of potentially harmful cleaners and opt for non-toxic products. (1) Many cleaning products contain toxic substances, harsh fragrances, or other ingredients that can cause reactions in those with sensitive skin or eyes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a list of products that meet its Safer Choice requirements.
5. Watch Out for Invisible Risks
Some health hazards in your home are invisible but can still damage your health. If your home was built before 1978, test exposed paint for lead. You can purchase a test kit at your local hardware store or contact your city health department. (1) Don’t forget to also test your home for radon through a local, county, or state program. (1)
Don’t Forget about Emotional Health
Your emotions impact your daily life, personal connections, and overall mental health. While feelings may evolve over times, emotional wellness can help you manage life's challenges, adapt to change, and successfully navigate difficult times.
1. Build Resilience
Emotional resilience is what helps you cope with stressful situations, have fewer negative emotions, and be able to bounce back when things go wrong. (2) Thankfully, this is something that can be learned and practiced. Engage in emotional resilience by reflecting on your problems from various viewpoints, exploring your beliefs and purpose in life, and practicing gratitude. (2) Practice self-care and surround yourself with positive, healthy people and influences.
2. Reduce Stress
Physical health plays a large role in stress management. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating healthy are a great place to start.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, setting priorities to help you accomplish tasks and showing yourself compassion for can help reduce stress in your daily life. (2) Schedule regular self-care activities that incorporate mindfulness or breathing exercises such as yoga or tai chi.
When we are feeling stressed, sometimes we need a shoulder to lean on. Build a social support network or seek help from a mental health professional if you feel unable to cope, have suicidal thoughts, or use drugs and alcohol to cope. (2)
3. Strengthen Social Connections
Interacting with friends, family, and your community enhances both mental and physical health. Social connection can help prevent serious illnesses like dementia and stroke while improving your ability to recover from stress, anxiety, and depression. (3)
Whether you want to build a stronger relationship with your kids, spend more time with family and friends, or meet new people who share a hobby like reading or hiking—strengthening connections with your family, friends, or community can have a great impact on personal growth, happiness, and resilience.
4. Be Mindful
Mindfulness is an ancient practice of being completely aware of what’s happening in the present. (2) “Mindfulness-based treatments have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. There’s also evidence that mindfulness can lower blood pressure and improve sleep.” (4)
Mindfulness can be practiced in simple ways such as focusing on taking deep breaths, noticing the sights and sounds around you on a stroll, or being aware of the textures, and flavors while eating. (2)
The best defense is a good offense! Being proactive helps to prevent disease and other conditions, which is vital for long-term health outcomes.
1. Go to the Doctor
Scheduling an annual exam with your doctor and screening for diseases is vital for your health. Regular screenings are crucial for early detection, allowing you and your physician time to create a treatment plan. Know your family medical history, take steps to mitigate genetic risks, and make sure your doctor is aware of any changes to your health or medication routine.
2. Stay Up to Date on Vaccinations
Vaccines not only protect you from preventable diseases—they keep your community safe, too! By staying up to date on your vaccines, you are contributing to the health of your friends, family, and neighbors. Not sure if you’re current on your vaccines? Check out the CDC’s vaccine schedule.
3. Take your Medication
Medication non-adherence is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization in the US. Taking your medication consistently, correctly, and on time will help you achieve optimal health outcomes. If you have any questions about your medication regimen or are having trouble taking your meds as prescribed, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about solutions to make managing your meds easy.
Becoming the healthiest version of yourself is a journey that involves nurturing every aspect of your well-being. By practicing good habits, cultivating a safe environment, taking time for emotional health, and making sustainable choices that align with your values, you can create the foundation for a vibrant and fulfilling life. Remember, it's not about perfection, but progress. Here's to unlocking the healthiest, happiest you!