My last post about self-care is very closely related to this one, health. Twenty people out of 218 felt that having their health was the most important thing to having a happy life. I think it’s important to note that the people that said that happened to be or have been sick. When you have your health you don’t realize how important it is. When you don’t have your health, you realize that it affects every aspect of your life. When it hurts to breathe, you learn to be grateful for every breath.
There are so many things that go into being healthy, it was a bit overwhelming to get it all written down. I had to comb through so much information, my head got all kinds of fuzzy. But, I did it, and hopefully, someone can benefit from it all.
The first thing I’m going to talk about is exercise. I can almost hear the groan….although, that might have been me. I’m not a fan of working out. I always hear people say that they feel so good after. I don’t know why, but that usually is not the case for me. It takes days for me to feel any benefits from working out and I rarely get an uplifting feeling right after, but I know it’s important to stay active, even if it doesn’t initially feel good. Gretchen Reynolds, a bestselling author, wrote, “the first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk – all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.” She notes that she doesn’t recommend only doing 20 minutes, but that even just easy moving for 20 minutes will give benefits.
A few benefits of exercise are positivity, weight loss, and energy levels. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, which promote positive feelings. It’s also been proven that depression and stress decrease with exercise. Lowering the number of calories taken in tends to lower the metabolic rate, but exercising raises it and burns more calories. It can also build strong muscles and bones, which can prevent injuries as you age. Several studies show that exercise decreases chronic fatigue. It also helps reduce the risk of chronic disease, pain related to diseases, improve skin and brain health, and improve sleep and sex drive. All those seem like pretty good reasons to go for a 20-minute walk to me.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I think it’s important enough to repeat. Therapy is good for everyone. There is such a negative stigma around therapy. As if the only people that need therapy are psychopaths, but that is so far from the truth it’s laughable. I think it’s good for everyone to go to therapy for a time at least once in their lives. Life is messy and it hurts. Talking to our friends and family is always nice, but their opinions will be clouded by their relationship with you. A professional will be able to give an unbiased opinion. They can keep you accountable in a way that close relationships probably won’t. It can teach problem-solving techniques that you maybe hadn’t thought about before. I know when I’m in the middle of a problem, I get very tunnel visioned. It’s nice to have someone on the outside to give a different perspective.
I have a friend that was very against therapy. He thought he could figure out his problems on his own and since he didn’t feel suicidal it was all good. It clearly wasn’t. He closed himself off from people, was short-tempered and impatient, and hardly slept or ate. He was finally convinced to go to therapy. After just the first session he was entirely different. It has helped him work out his problems, given him confidence, someone to trust, and relieved some of the pain and stress.
Money is a huge concern when it comes to doctors and counseling. Here are a few different ideas to look into before completely writing off therapy because of costs. Call your insurance company. Many companies will cover at least part of the cost even if it isn’t advertised. Check to see if your job has an EAP (employee assistance program). A lot of companies will have something to help their employees. Contact different counseling centers. Many therapists will take patients for a reduced (or sometimes free) rate. Get in touch with NAMI. They should be able to find low-cost treatment. You can reach them at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email them at email@example.com. A house of worship usually has someone able to help and most of the time will do a couple sessions for free or very low cost. Don’t forget crisis hotlines. They’re there all the time and are happy to help with any problem. Calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) will connect you with the crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. If you’d prefer to text, you can message START to 741-741.
Don’t feel ashamed if medication is necessary. There are chemicals in our bodies that can’t always be corrected naturally. There’s no shame in getting the help needed. I tried for years to ‘self-medicate’ and all it did was make me more depressed. I spent years feeling depressed and angry and taking it out on my family when I could’ve been a better wife and mother. See a doctor, accept the help, don’t blame yourself.
I love sleeping. It’s one of my very favorite past times. My family, still to this day, calls me ‘snoozie’ because that’s all I’d do. Sleep is directly linked to our well being. Lack of sleep is linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. After not sleeping for just 24 hours, judgment, memory, and reaction time is impaired as much as having a 0.10 blood alcohol level. After 36 hours your health becomes at risk. High levels of inflammatory markers, that cause heart disease and high blood pressure, are found in the blood. Dizziness and losing time are common symptoms. After 48 hours, micro sleeping and disorientation occur. Micro sleeping is when a person falls asleep for a short time (several seconds), regardless of the activity they’re doing. Hallucinations can start after 72 hours. Although there are no records of anyone dying from sleep deprivation, it is believed to be possible. Stress, sleep apnea, RLS (restless leg syndrome), and caffeinated or alcoholic beverages can all impair sleep. If it’s a constant problem, check with a doctor.
Along with causing bad sleep patterns, alcohol can also dehydrate. It decreases the body’s ability to make an anti-diuretic hormone, which means the body doesn’t absorb as much water. Combine that with more frequent urinating and possible vomiting, it’s understandable why it could cause dehydration. Dehydration is also what causes a hangover. Our bodies are 60% water, it’s super important to make sure to stay hydrated. Even just 1% dehydration can cause the metabolism to slow. Water helps maintain a balance of bodily fluids, controls calories, energizes muscles, keeps skin and kidneys clear, and maintains normal bowel function. Drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day is a myth. It’s much closer to half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 160 pounds, it would be best to drink 80 ounces of water daily.
I love meat, so even though I know living a vegan lifestyle is healthiest, it just isn’t going to happen. I tried it, my family whined and whined about the lack of meat forever. I still hear about “that time I went crazy”. Regardless, living off the land is the way to live. Our bodies were made to process fruits, vegetables, and grains more readily than anything else. Plus, eating fresh won’t have those extra nasty pesticides and additives and won’t be overly processed. Eating healthy has been proven to help manage weight, prevent (and sometimes cure) disease and bad odors, healthier hair and nails, and has shown to lengthen lifespan. The USDA recommends 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Every day. I know it’s almost impossible for my family to get that amount every day, let alone the variety that is needed for all nutrients. That’s why I added JuicePlus into our diet. It’s a way to bridge the gap between what we do get and what we should get and it’s a whole food. Most supplements are synthetic, so our bodies don’t absorb those fake ingredients. If you can’t read the ingredients label, chances are your body can’t process those things.
Dieting is not healthy either. Most of the time people either eat too few calories, so their bodies store any fat instead of shedding it, or they go back and forth with different diets which only encourages eating disorders. Healthy eating as a lifestyle is important. Moderation is key.
There are several ingredients that keep us healthy and we need to take care of each aspect. Exercise, water, and diet are key to healthy bodies. Sleep and therapy are crucial for healthy minds. Take care of the body that you’ve been given. It’s the only one you get.
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Holmes, Lindsay. “4 Ways Everyone Can Benefit From Therapy.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Aug. 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/07/benefits-of-therapy-and-life-coaches_n_5635389.html.
Holmes, Lindsay. “All The Ways Sleep Affects Your Happiness, In One Chart.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 July 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/all-the-ways-sleep-affects-your-happiness-in-one-char_us_55ae4d55e4b07af29d564a29.
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Walton, Alice G. “11 Intriguing Reasons To Give Talk Therapy A Try.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 June 2017, http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/06/03/11-intriguing-reasons-to-give-talk-therapy-a-try/#27a1c18c4ebb.
Zelman, Kathleen M. “6 Reasons to Drink Water.” WebMD, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water#1.