What Does National Wellness Month Mean for You?

Not a day goes by when we don’t think about our health. Whether it’s our heart health or our blood pressure. Or our achy muscles and joints. Or our stress level. Or just about anything else, for that matter.

How we feel physically and mentally has a tremendous effect on how we approach each day. Especially as we age.

It plays a big role in our attitude and our relationships. It often determines what we can or cannot attempt to do.

In order to maximize our health, many of us eat the right foods. And get plenty of exercise and sleep. Sometimes we fail in these areas. But we all know there is a direct correlation between what we do and how we feel.

Healthy Habits, Stress Management

It helps to be reminded about the importance of good health. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought it to our attention like never before.

A vast majority of us are being very careful about our health these days. The statistics regarding confirmed cases and deaths is enough to make anyone sit up and take notice.

Hopefully all of us are doing whatever we can to make sure our immune systems stay strong. And practicing social distancing from those outside our family.

Another reminder of how crucial it is to stay healthy comes around annually. It’s National Wellness Month, which we’re celebrating this month.

Americans Aren’t Exercising

During August, people are encouraged to focus on self-care by establishing new, healthy routines. And managing their stress levels.

Poor nutrition, insufficient sleep and stress can make already-existing pain even worse than normal. Self-care supports pain management and aids injury recovery efforts.

Why is an entire month designated for wellness? For one thing, less than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of daily physical exercise. Only one in three engages in the recommended amount of physical activity each week.

That’s according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They also say 80 percent of adults fail to meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

7 Ways to Practice Self-Care

It’s one thing to discuss good physical and mental health in general terms. But now let’s get specific. Here are seven ways to do it, in no particular order. I’m sure you can think of plenty more.

Drink more water. As we age, our sensation of thirst is not as strong as it once was. Especially if we’re not perspiring much. It’s important to drink plenty of water, even when we don’t feel thirsty. In addition to keeping us hydrated, water carries nutrients throughout our bodies and helps lubricate joints. Eight glasses of water per day is a longtime standard.

Exercise more often. This can be a big challenge, especially if we’re not as physically fit as we used to be. But it’s like any other habit. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and eventually you’ve got it on autopilot. Exercise is also a big help for weight management, increased strength and healthy blood circulation. Whenever possible, exercise outdoors. In addition to fresh air, you’ll get natural Vitamin D from the sun.

Stretch your muscles. Once you’ve finished exercising, it’s tempting to plop down in a chair or take a shower. But this is the ideal time to stretch your muscles, which are much more pliable when warm. Start with your neck and work your way down. You’ll be amazed what daily stretching will do for your flexibility and range of motion.

Snack smarter. Many of us get hungry between meals. That’s OK, but often what we put into our bodies isn’t so great. Instead of reaching for a sugary treat that will only pick us up briefly before a crash, eat healthy snacks. Carrots, celery sticks, apples and other fresh vegetables and fruits will do our bodies a lot more good. And of course, limit alcohol consumption.

Breathe deeply. Sometimes a mental exercise will do us more good than a physical exercise. Especially if we’re stressed about something. When you find yourself feeling anxious, you’re probably not breathing normally. Sit back and take deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Practice good hygiene. Hand washing, hair washing, bathing and dental care all promote good overall health, which is especially important during a pandemic. Trim your nails to prevent infected nail beds. Brush and floss your teeth to limit bacteria in your mouth and maintain healthy gums. There are also social implications to consider. 

Connect with others. Social distancing has made this a challenge for many of us. But our need to connect has not gone away. Studies show that isolation can negatively affect our health. For now, some of us may have to fill this void through texting, phone calls and video chats with friends and family members. And when the time is right, volunteering in your community can promote general wellbeing.

Practicing self-care is important year ‘round. But if we’re not already doing it, National Wellness Month is a great time to start.

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