By Renee Goyeneche—
The condition welfare is a holistic concept that encompasses all aspects of our physical, emotional and mental health. However, thanks to a relentless barrage of picture-perfect images, it’s easy to focus on the aesthetic elements of wellness and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Aside from what we see, well-being matters on a larger scale, as research indicates health and happiness are inextricably linked. Healthy people feel happier and happier people make more effort to take care of their health.
Quantifiable evidence also supports the idea that stress levels decrease when we maintain consistent health practices, which is a goal worth pursuing for several reasons. We know that stress undermines our mental state and is linked to anxiety and depression. It has also been linked to heart disease, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, strokes and other health problems and symptoms. People who are under chronic stress are also more likely to develop viral illnesses such as the common cold and flu, and have a longer recovery time from injury and illness.
We know that prioritizing self-care has tremendous benefits. Why is it so hard?
Unfortunately, understanding the importance of wellness practices and actually implementing them in real time can be two very different things. As our schedules fill up, it can be challenging to take care of ourselves. We live in a world that values our non-stop availability over a legitimate human need for sustainable self-care practices. Putting your own needs first may seem like an indulgence if you have a demanding personal or professional life. In addition, we often miss the three things that help us prioritize ourselves; time, energy and resources. However, we can build all three into our lives to support our own health and happiness.
1) Claim more time for yourself.
Edit even one more thing in an already crowded day can feel like an impossible task, but if you’re constantly doing for everyone but yourself, it’s time to reclaim space in your own life. This means that you need to take a close look at your to-do list. An overloaded workload is not a badge of honor and does not mean you are productive. More often than not, it’s just a harbinger of exhaustion and burnout.
Go down that list and start asking questions. What can you delegate to someone else, what can you postpone to a later date, and what can you delete altogether? Few things in life are really urgent, so what is your actual level of responsibility? Let go of some tasks and reclaim that time for yourself.
2) Increase your energy.
Lightening your load can significantly reduce fatigue; in fact, it’s probably the most important way to get started. Follow that with small steps toward your health and wellness goals. Get that extra 15 minutes of sleep. Prepare some foods that will ensure you fuel your body in a healthy way. Give yourself a walk around the neighborhood. Slow down, breathe and drink your water. You’ll be surprised how all of these small changes lead to higher energy levels across the board.
Mindset also affects energy levels. Optimists tend to get less carried away by challenges, which means they generally experience less stress and can deal with it more effectively when it is unavoidable. Keep a positive attitude and surround yourself with people who do the same.
3) Develop your resources.
We can classify resources as internal or external, and we need both to successfully pursue our goals. You may not see immediate results if you work on more health and happiness, but don’t let that put you off. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Don’t you think you have the internal resources needed to persevere? You absolutely do. To better understand your drives, take the time to analyze why it is so important to increase your happiness. Make a short list of your conclusions and put it in a place where you can see it every day. That visual cue will remind you that a commitment to yourself is no less important than any other in your life.
Next, think about how you can take advantage of outside resources. Who and what can help you get closer to your goals? Are there any programs or technology, free or paid, that keep you on track? Will an accountability partner help? There’s no rule that says you have to do these things alone to have value. Our communities often serve as our strongest external resource. Take advantage of it.
Remember that we cannot be our best or hope to achieve our goals by sacrificing our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Cherishing personal health and happiness should be a non-negotiable mandate for all of us, so incorporating more time, energy, and resources into our lives is critical.
Renee Goyeneche: I am a writer and research editor who focuses on information that benefits women, children and families. Find me LinkedIn And Twitter.