Life is not merely being alive, but being well. - Marcus Aurelius
Studies show that sleep and exercise are the two most important factors contributing to wellness and happiness.
My Wellness Plan - Part Two focuses on sleep and movement/exercise, as well as the importance of spending time in nature.
A few nights without sleep can gravely impair mood, judgement, and concentration. Unfortunately, a great number of us are chronically sleep deprived.
Stressful schedules, lack of genuine connection, too much screen time, and too little exercise are some common reasons for sleeplessness.
Anxiety caused me to have insomnia, which contributed to a downward spiral into depression. Ongoing insomnia should be addressed by a health provider because it is a serious condition.
Sleep hygiene is a term referring to practices that aid sleep. Here are some of the ways we can promote healthy sleep:
● Move more
● Avoid caffeine and alcohol
● Get outside daily
● Turn off screens one or two hours before bed
● Relax, stretch, meditate, and be mindful before sleep
● Aromatherapy may help
Many of us are dangerously sedentary. We sit for hours at work, while driving, or while looking at our computer, phone, or TV screens. The lure of a comfy couch is strong, I know.
The good news is that we don’t have to train like Olympic hopefuls to benefit from movement.
To start, walk around the block or take a short bike ride. Thirty or sixty minutes of exercise is great, but every minute helps.
Movement is cumulative -- ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the afternoon, and ten minutes after dinner. Exercise is good for the body and for the mind. As you increase movement, increase hydration, too.
Here are some ideas to get you started on a more active lifestyle:
● Check with your health provider to ensure your choice of exercise is safe
● Walking is considered an ideal exercise
● Swimming, biking, dancing, and sports are fun
● Housework, yardwork, and parking your car a good distance from the door count
● Even if you don’t work up a sweat, movement is still helpful
Time in Nature
Being in nature is restorative. Outdoor sounds and sights can both calm and energize.
Have you read about forest bathing?
Studies show that walking in the forest is great for our mental health. Being near lakes and oceans can increase feelings of well-being. Sun in safe doses is essential for physical and mental health.
Of course, we don’t have to get our nature fix in the wilderness. Spending time in a park, by a city pond, or walking around a peaceful neighborhood is practical and helpful. Find a green space and breathe deeply!
Some self-check questions:
How much sleep are you getting most nights?
Are you moving enough?
Do you get outside?
What can you do this week to improve your wellness in these areas?
Remember, be gentle with yourself. Don’t take on too much at once, it takes three weeks to form a habit.
My Wellness Plan Components: connection, meditation/mindfulness, healthy eating, adequate sleep, movement/exercise, time in nature, gratitude, massage, and medication.
Contributed by Jean Spahr, NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties Volunteer.