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August is National Wellness Month:
Let's Make Well-Being a Priority All Year Long

Our well-being has perhaps never been more important. In honor of National Wellness Month, we’re devoting this blog to some timely tips and reminders to increase healthy habits, take time for yourself, and focus on the positive.

Well-being is not a one-time event.

It’s an ongoing practice of small, daily acts that allow you to manage stress, be more productive, and feel happier and healthier. In our 2020 prediction blog last December, we discussed this pivot away from “self-help” and toward “self-care.”

Little did we know that three months later, we would be in the midst of a pandemic, managing incredible stress brought on by working from home, juggling work and homeschooling, and worrying about our own and older relatives’ health. Our resilience has been put to the test.

What can we do to manage our well-being?

Practice self-care. At its core, self-care focuses on sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise, and layers on care for our mental state, like actively managing stress, practicing self-compassion, and engaging in mindfulness or meditation.

There is growing acknowledgment—especially now—that these are no longer nice-to-have, selfish indulgences, but absolutely critical to our well-being. And it’s even more important for caregivers, who must take care of themselves in order to take care of others.

Easy self-care actions that can improve well-being.

Sometimes the simplest actions can have a significant effect on how we feel.

Drink plenty of water.

In addition to hydrating the body for optimal functioning, drinking water can improve the look and quality of skin, energize muscles, and help control calories. For more information, check out the WebMD article What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Enough Water?

Engage in deep breathing or meditation.

Deep breathing invokes the relaxation response, which can counteract the stress response. Meditation trains the brain and body to relax and focus on the present instead of all the “chatter” in our heads. Even five minutes a day can be helpful.

Increase your fruit and veggie intake.

Several studies point to the link between the consumption of fruits and vegetables and better mental health. This is so easy during August when produce is at its peak. My local farmers’ market was practically giving gorgeous fruits and veggies away last weekend.

Stretch or do a yoga class.

We all need to stretch to counteract the effects of the day, whether we’ve been sitting at a desk for hours, working on our feet, or simply trying to overcome all the stress we’ve taken in. Try incorporating quick stretches into your day to ease your body and mind. Or, block off time to do at least a few yoga poses. Yoga involves lots of stretching and has been proven over centuries to calm the mind, lower blood pressure, and slow the heart rate.

Exercise.

Virtually any type of exercise can reduce mental, emotional and physical stress. It also releases positive brain chemicals that boost your mood and, of course, burns calories for a balanced weight.

If you’ve been doing the same type of exercise for a while, it might be time to change things up. Studies show we should shake up our routine every four to six weeks. Many fitness companies are offering free trials—so there’s no downside to trying something new.

Disconnect.

It’s so important to turn off your phone periodically, especially when engaging in acts of self-care, like exercise. Don’t let the ping of a work email put you back in stress mode and cancel out all those great benefits.

Treat yourself.

Sadly, the pandemic has eliminated a good massage from our stress-busting repertoire. Not the same, but can you enlist a family member to work out some kinks? Is there another non-food indulgence you like? Maybe a long bath, a couple of hours sitting by a lake or stream, or a great, new read?

Focus on the positive.

So many things are out of our control right now, but we do have the power to change our mindset. Experts recommend focusing on one good thing that happens every day. Doing this daily can retrain your brain to switch directions, so that when setbacks do occur, you can recover more quickly.

Steadily nurture your well-being and you will see the benefits.

You may not notice the benefits of focusing on well-being in one day, but you will soon start to see changes in your mood, how you feel about your body, and in your relationships. These small changes will add up and help you weather the current moment—and all those challenging situations that are bound to come later on!

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