“If you always put limit on everything you do, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” — Bruce Lee
For many of us, returning to the office means adopting new habits: Sanitizing our hands before and after touching objects, practicing physical distancing by staying six feet away from others, limiting the number of people in offices and boardrooms… the list goes on.
While these changes are aimed at minimizing the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also a great opportunity to practice prioritizing our wellbeing by incorporating healthy habits into our new routines—a practice that begins with a solid understanding of what "wellness" means.
Today, we're going to look at the five key aspects of physical wellbeing so that you can use this knowledge as a foundation for building long-term healthy habits in the "new normal".
The Five Key Aspects Of Physical Wellness
It’s common knowledge that most of us need eight hours of sleep to stay healthy and alert. Nonetheless, many people still struggle to maintain a regular sleep schedule—whether by choice, circumstance, or lack of understanding of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
Our bodies crave regular routine, especially when it comes to sleep. That means that although staying up until 5:00 AM and sleeping past noon contains enough hours of sleep, it will leave your body unprepared to go to bed at 10:00 PM the next night and for waking up to that 6:00 AM alarm. If your cycle is constantly being disrupted, many negative symptoms can erupt, such as extreme fatigue, sluggishness, memory loss, emotional instability, and even an increase in sickness.
If you’re having a hard time getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis, you’re not alone—especially in light of COVID-19. Increased levels uncertainty and anxiety in times like these are known to impact sleep. Check out these tips from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to help you get more quality sleep.
2. Eating Well
Contrary to what most people think, eating healthy doesn’t mean feeling hungry all the time or eating nothing but veggies for the rest of your life. Much like sleep, your body likes consistency when it comes to what and when you want to eat.
Regularly eating healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains does more than simply provide your body with the nutrients to support vital functions—it also contributes to a stronger state of mental well-being.
Furthermore, eating too much when you aren’t hungry or making yourself skip meals can have metabolic consequences that can upset your physical and mental health. Avoiding food all day and then hunkering down to a large meal late in the day can also slow down your metabolism.
Making a point of eating well-balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals can make a big difference in the way you feel, both physically and mentally. And remember—drinking plenty of water goes hand in hand with eating right!
3. Physical Activity
While long-term benefits of exercise are indisputable, many people struggle to make it a part of their daily life. Like eating healthy, exercise can conjure up memories or unpleasant images from drill sergeant personal trainers or a dreaded gym class in school. But not all physical activity has to be a painful endeavor that is endured only for the sake of health—you can make it fun!
The key to sticking to an exercise routine is to find an activity that you enjoy and that you can grow into. It’s not a one-size-fits all scenario. Some people find it highly motivating to participate in spin classes or CrossFit programs with an instructor shouting at participants to push harder or spin faster, while others find the same level of satisfaction in a yoga class.
The point is, everyone is different, so don’t force yourself into an exercise routine you don’t enjoy for the sake of “fitting in”. Find what works for you and own it! There are hundreds of different exercise classes and methodologies that can engage you and inspire you to get stronger, more fit—whatever success looks like to you.
Hygiene is defined as any action taken to maintain health and prevent disease. Personal hygiene won’t just keep you healthy physically, it can even boost your moods and confidence.
Hygiene also includes seeking out preventative medical care such as getting physical exams, going to the dentist, and seeing an eye doctor if you have vision issues. Most people are able to brush their teeth and shower regularly, but many put off making medical appointments out of inconvenience. Preventing disease or intervening with early treatment is much more convenient in the long run than ignoring your health concerns altogether.
Relaxation applies to your mind, body and soul. Tension can build up in muscles causing headaches or back pain and stress hormones can cause a variety of nasty symptoms including adrenal fatigue.
In modern times, everyone packs their schedules full of events and puts pressure on themselves to get ahead. While ambition is admirable, scheduling time to simply relax and enjoy yourself is important to your overall health. Whether it’s getting a massage, staying home with a good puzzle, or playing your favorite sport—some “me time” does everyone good.
While there’s nothing wrong with being career-centered and pursuing your goals head-on, the body can only take so much. As cliché as it might sound, health indeed is wealth. So, as we begin to ease into the "new normal", let's all remember to keep wellbeing a priority!