August is National Wellness Month, so now’s the time to assess your daily habits and see where you can fine-tune your self-care practices. While sweeping changes to your lifestyle can obviously have a big impact on your overall health, small changes to your daily routine will also add up to big improvements. Here are a few areas to focus on.
Food is a cornerstone of wellness, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to good nutrition. Each person’s individual physical makeup will determine what’s right for them, but the basic principles remain mostly the same: eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, get enough vitamins and minerals, eat foods containing whole grains and fiber, choose lean meats, and watch your intake of unhealthy fats. See more of our nutrition tips.
More than 50% of the average human body is composed of water, which means proper hydration is absolutely essential to good physical health. Drinking enough water every day is important for several reasons: it helps regulate your body temperature, keeps your organs functioning efficiently and your joints lubricated, delivers nutrients to your cells, and improves your sleep and mood. The old “8 glasses a day” adage has been modernized to be clearer: drink between a half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound that you weigh.
Getting a good night’s rest sets you up for success the next day, but becoming a consistently good sleeper can change your life! Sleep is not just important to feeling well-rested; it impacts more bodily functions than you might expect: weight management, appetite, concentration, athletic performance, blood sugar regulation, and – as anyone who’s ever gotten up early after staying up too late knows – mood. Most adults perform best with 7–9 hours of sleep per night, depending on the individual.
You might be realizing that the building blocks of personal wellness are all interconnected. Fitness is no exception – one of exercise’s biggest benefits is that it helps regulate mood, sleep, and appetite by increasing production of the hormone serotonin. Exercise can also help protect you from illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, not to mention making you feel better about your appearance and giving you a satisfying sense of accomplishment.
Finding time to relax is no longer considered an indulgence for the idle; it’s been proven to be critical in personal wellbeing. Relaxation reduces stress and improves your mental health, especially if you live with depression and/or anxiety, and it can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Relaxation looks different for everyone, so find an activity that brings your stress levels down and make time for it as often as possible.
A major source of well-being is creating and maintaining relationships with your family, friends, and community. Building these social connections can increase your feelings of happiness and self-worth and significantly lower levels of anxiety and depression. Plus, the more of these trusting, cooperative relationships you have in your life, the easier it becomes to make more!
It’s just as important to occasionally and intentionally disconnect from distractions like phones and computers, especially when you’re engaged in other acts of self-care like exercise or sleep. Close the laptop and put your phone on do not disturb – you’re doing important personal wellness work.
Practicing routine healthcare clears mental space by letting you check back-of-mind worries off your list of concerns. Schedule a physical, get that mole looked at, find out why your stomach hurts – it might turn out to be nothing, but knowing the state of your health is empowering. For more urgent needs like injury, acute illnesses, or COVID testing, BetterMed can help (find a location here).
As August draws to a close, don’t let the end of National Wellness Month be the end of your personal wellness journey. Find ways to incorporate our tips into your daily life to see how much better you’ll feel all year long.