The National Institutes of Health offers some basic, no-nonsense strategies to maintain everyday health. They are all familiar to most of us, like staying active, minding your weight, and eating healthy foods. However, with so many of us juggling work life, parenting and, if you’re lucky, some social activities with daily fitness and food prep can seem overwhelming. Even worse, not being able to accomplish a health goal can lead to stress and feelings of guilt, which is counterproductive to your health goals!
Add another element that is all too common for many, especially working adults: chronic pain. Whether you sit at an office job or stand on your feet in a retail store, pain arrives uninvited and typically seems reluctant to leave; constant pain creates obstacles to creating and maintaining healthy habits.
But take heart, all is not lost. Below are some tips from Know All The Things on how to optimize your overall health and well-being.
Start at the Top
Creating a lifelong, daily habit can be easier if you take small steps. A good place to start is in your home. A clean home is a happy home, so make it a point to “clean as you go” during the time you spend there so you don’t have to worry about dedicating a full day as “cleaning day.” And when it comes to clutter — a source of stress in itself — make it a habit to declutter and organize in increments so the burden is lessened over time; before you know it, your living space will be more open and enjoyable during downtime.
You can also improve your mental health by working on stress-relieving activities. You can perform these anywhere: at your desk, in your favorite chair at home, or even on your public transportation commute to work. Verywell Mind points out that breathing exercises offer an uncomplicated and effective jump-off point, and you may find them helpful throughout your day. Many people discover that taking a few minutes for daily meditation is also easy and effective.
Of course, one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate stress is to eliminate the source. Understanding that this is easier said than done, take an honest look at how you can chip away at it if you can’t realistically remove it entirely. For example, if it’s finances, can you cut some expenses, or switch to a higher paying job? If it’s your career, is it time for a change? Taking concrete steps toward a big change can be a big boon to mental health, and a career change is not as difficult as it sounds. There are several online courses and degree programs literally at your fingertips. An advanced degree like an MBA can also boost your financial productivity, as well.
Next, indulge yourself a bit with a little self-care. Consider getting a pedicure (and men get pedicures, too!); ask the podiatrist for easy daily foot-care tips to help keep you moving. A haircut is another great mental health boost, not just because of the new look, but paying a bit more for a scalp massage will boost your feel-good endorphins. You can even try a new look with a streak of bold, sassy color, like purple or red. Temporary dyes are a fun and, according to Good Housekeeping, hair-friendly option if you’re on the fence about a more permanent statement.
People know they should eat healthy foods. Often, eating missteps are due to time constraints and conflicts with work and family activities. Taking advantage of online grocery shopping and delivery can help, and today’s available meal prep kits offer everything from gourmet and organic family dinners, to snacks and smoothies. Help your healthy eating habits go farther by undoing some healthy habits, as well. Start with the most painless option, like giving up that morning donut at the office coffee station, or eliminating that midday sugary soda.
Your other essential strategy is sleep. The impact of a good night’s sleep on both your physical and mental health can’t be emphasized enough. You’ll not only feel better, you’ll also gain in workplace and personal productivity. And, once you establish a sleep pattern that works for you, try getting up 15 to 30 minutes earlier each day, and use that “found” time for other morale boosting tasks, like spending time outside, enjoying a low-impact activity like yoga or a brief walk, or even decluttering a room.
Health and Happiness Are Natural Partners
Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. Creating positive changes in your life can make you feel happier, and that can motivate you to make the sometimes difficult changes in your daily habits. We hope that tips will help you find your blueprint out of chronic pain and to a happier, healthier you.