Many people strive for healthy living but are never able to achieve
their goal. What a lot of people don’t realize it that healthy living
requires a change in lifestyle, a new way of thinking, and the
development of new habits. Each of these things take TIME. Creating
a healthy lifestyle for yourself does not come about by latching onto
the newest exercise fad, weird food/drink detox schedule, or curious personal hygiene/beauty regime. Healthy living comes from a
long-term commitment that you make to one person, and one
person only: YOU.
Here are a few ideas to get you moving in the direction of
Pay attention to your health status. If you haven’t recorded your weight in a long time, step on the scale. Take stock of when you last saw the dentist, eye doctor, or your general practitioner. Assess how much physical activity you are getting in a week. Pay attention to everything that you eat. Check in with how you are feeling mentally and emotionally. Consider how much time you have made for social connection over the past little while. And the most difficult part of these check-ins is: Do it without judgement. This is an information gathering exercise, and does indicate anything about how “good” or “bad” your current lifestyle is.
Eliminate risky behaviours. If you think that you may be using alcohol or drugs more often than is healthy (see the page on substance use for more information), get help. If you are smoking and have been meaning to quit, take action. If you have a chronic health problem but have been putting off doctor’s appointments or medications, seek out support so that you can attend your appointments or take your medication. If your life includes risky behaviours, healthy living will be next to impossible to achieve.
Exercise more. This does not mean you need to exercise A LOT. It just means you need to exercise more often than you currently are. Physical activity has been shown to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, and contributes to one’s overall sense of happiness and quality of life. While exercise can be difficult for many, there are a few things to do to ease the challenge.
Make it fun: Choose an activity that is fun for you. This can be hiking, biking, rollerblading, yoga, dance class, tennis, group sports, walking, or just about any activity that you like that gets you up and off the couch.
Track your progress: Mark an “X” or a J on the calendar on the days that you do some form of exercise. At the end of the week or the month, look back and marvel in your accomplishment!
Reward yourself: The reward doesn’t have to big, and could be as simple as watching an episode of your favourite show AFTER your physical activity. Or schedule a weekend away after you have achieved your exercise goal for the month. Whatever it is, pat yourself on the back every once and a while for a job well-done.
Eat better. Again, this does not mean you need to eat the BEST. It just means you need to eat better than you currently are. Choose healthy options when you can, and make the conscious, positive choice; get rid of any “should’ because that definitely does not make anyone feel good about eating an apple. Try to plan your meals in a healthier way, and do your grocery shopping accordingly. If you can stop yourself from buying low quality foods in the store, there is no way they can make their way into your house, and then into your mouth. Slow down and enjoy your food. People who eat more slowly consume less calories in a day than those who scarf. Leave the gobbling to our pets. Or the turkey’s.
Take care of your mental health. Depression, anxiety, stress, and relationship problems are bound to creep up on all of us. The important thing is to recognize when you are experiencing mental health difficulties, and to seek help as soon as possible. There are a number of empirically sound therapies that have been shown to improve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, anger, low self-esteem, etc. One of the most important steps in living a health lifestyle is to become an advocate for your own mental health.
There are a number of other ideas that you can explore on your quest
for healthy living. Working with a mental health professional can assist
you in the development of your skills and habits necessary to achieve
success not only in these specific areas, but in creating a life that is
healthy, wholesome, and true.