Managing Physical Wellness
What is physical wellness? Physical wellness is one of many parts of your wellness structure that make you, who you are. Often, when my clients think about physical wellness, the number one response I get is “exercise.” This is true but is certainly not the only area of physical wellness we need to take responsibility for in our lives. Physical wellness includes multiple areas of which I will list examples of below. In addition, this snip-it of an article will give you a few resources to begin to enhance your physical wellness.
Examples of physical wellness are included but not limited to:
Moving your body (exercise), eating balanced meals (nutrition), sleep hygiene, personal hygiene, safety, preventative medical, mental health and dental care, screenings and healthy sexual activity (if applicable), managing stress and more.
That seems to be a lot to balance! So, where do you start? Well, let’s run through and identify an area in which you seem to be spending the least time in. Once you have identified which area you spend hardly any amount of time focusing on keeping well, look through examples below to begin your journey of balancing your physical wellness. If you find that you are proactively working on all areas of physical health already, congratulations! Let yourself then take a moment to identify which area you seem to be working most in, and which you seem to be focusing least on. Give gratitude to which area in your life you are working most on (ex. Personal hygiene: “thank you body for giving me the ability to work actively on my physical hygiene every day.”). Then, look at examples below to identify things you can do to improve the least worked on area of physical wellness.
Examples of ideas to start focusing on particular aspects of physical wellness:
Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine
Start by taking 30-minute walks at least 3x per week, working up to 5x/week
Begin a yoga or meditation routine at least 1x for 1 hour per week, or 10 minutes per day
Take the stairs instead of the elevator, if applicable
Join your local gym – check with your insurance company as they often reimburse or pay for gym memberships or equipment!
Grab a friend for accountability. Studies show when we have someone else waiting for us to work out with them, we have a higher ability to follow through with our exercise plans.
Download a fitness app for assistance and reminders: MyFitness Pal and Map My Walk are both free and easy to use applications that you have access to right on your smartphone
Eat at least 3 meals daily, but ideally 5-6 small meals daily to boost metabolism
Drink at least 8 full glasses of water daily (64oz)
Aim for color; fill your plate with colorful foods
Eat mindfully. Take time to enjoy your food by sitting down to eat without multitasking.
Speak to a local nutritionist for a guide on what works best for your body type
Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night if able
Make your room your sleep sanctuary; remove the TV, phones, or other distractions
Eliminate caffeine and spicy foods at least 4 hours prior to bedtime
Aim for a bedtime each night; consistency and routine are so helpful (even for weekends).
If you need noise to fall asleep, try a noise machine (~$20 USD on Amazon) instead of TV.
Dim or turn off the blue light on your phone/TV at least 2 hours prior to bedtime.
Avoid eating, watching TV or doing work in your bedroom; the brain begins to associate work/”being up” with these activities and therefore, it becomes harder to fall asleep
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, try for 30 minutes. If still unable to fall asleep, get up, walk around, have a light snack, read something light, journal (if anxiety is keeping you awake) and see how you feel afterwards.
Make it a goal to get out of bed daily (if dealing with depressive symptoms – even if this means moving from the bed to the couch to start)
Make it a goal to shower daily (if working at home during COVID-19, showering after work may help the transition between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’).
Brush your teeth at least twice daily [make sure you brush your gums – many studies show gingivitis (gum disease) leads directly to heart disease]
Floss your teeth at least once daily
Get out of your pajamas and into everyday work/casual clothing daily
Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
Cut your nails and clean them regularly (including those toes!)
Be thankful for the area that you live in, should you live in an area that feels relatively safe
Express gratitude for the roof over your head if you are blessed enough to have this
Utilize locks on your doors and windows to keep your home/apartment safe from intruders
Childproof (if applicable) electric outlets/cabinets and put away any toxic chemicals under lock
Utilize non-toxic home cleaning products when able
Keep smoke detectors up to date and test batteries every 6 months minimally
Have an evacuation plan for yourself, your family and your pets in case of emergency
Utilize window stickers for emergencies that indicate “type and number of pets to be saved”
Keep driveway, doorway and any other lighting functional inside and outside of your home
Preventative Medicine (medical/mental/dental):
If you do not have a medical, mental/behavioral health professional and dental professional in your life yet, consider obtaining one. Contact your insurance for professionals located in or out of network with your plan. (Many folks have out of network benefits in their insurance plans, allowing them to see whomever they see fit for their needs! Ie., specialized counselors (trauma focused, EMDR, etc.), naturopaths, chiropractors, etc.
Schedule yearly wellness/prevention examinations with your medical doctor.
Schedule sessions with your counselor/therapist/mental health professional as needed.
Schedule dental visits at least every six months with your dentist
Attend all scheduled appointments
If you take medication to prevent or assist with an illness you already have, take it as prescribed
If you are smoking, using recreational substances/alcohol or illicit drugs, make efforts to quit
If you would like to quit substance use/smoking, but could use assistance, see: www.samhsa.gov for self-help and professional help resources
Utilize natural substances (sunscreen, pain relievers, etc.) when you are able to, with help from your naturopath or other natural/alternative medicine professional
Screenings/Healthy Sexual Activity:
[Forewarning, as a newly baptized Christian I believe in sexual activity after marriage; my examples may reflect this.]
If you are married, regularly enjoy physical activity with one another (don’t make it a chore!).
If you have been married a long time and things are “stale,” try exploring with one another, identifying your needs to your partner, and working together to create a healthy sex life
Utilize protection (condoms; male or female versions or dental dams) for healthy sexual activity to assist in preventing transference of STD/STIs.
If you have had or plan on having multiple sexual partners, get regularly screened for STD/STIs and utilize protection to keep safe.
Breathe, often. Utilize the 4-7-8 technique when you notice yourself becoming stressed: breathe in for 4 slow seconds, hold for 7 seconds, breathe out for 8 slow seconds, repeat until desired effect occurs
Recognize that you cannot control everything or everyone; we are responsible for regulating our emotions and reactions/responses to people/places/things around us
Notice your reminders (triggers). Recognize what they are and identify ways to work through reminders as they arise. Some coping skills may include breathing techniques, mindfulness, support(s), walking, meditation, creativity (art/painting/puzzles/etc.), taking a shower/bath, listening to peaceful music, etc.
Take “me time,” regularly (at least 10 minutes daily and at least 1 hour per week) to get in touch with your inner self in solitude
Utilize community supports such as church communities, local parenting groups, local yoga/exercise groups, local art/music groups, friends and family, and local mental health supports (example mental health/substance misuse groups: AA, NA, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, CoDA, Learn2Cope in Massachusetts, OA, Bipolar support, OCD support, etc.)
Regularly check in with yourself (see resource page re: checking in with yourself) where you can focus on asking yourself a few questions a few times daily, identifying your emotions, sensations, thoughts, physical reactions within the body, and most importantly, your needs. Give yourself what you need provided it is safe and helpful to do so.
No matter which area of physical wellness you choose to focus on, there are many options for each. Above, are just a few examples of each area of physical wellness that I have chosen to focus on for this article. Get creative and have fun with it! Utilize maintaining a balanced physical wellness in your life as a way to grow. Do not utilize exercise/nutrition or any other area as a punishment for some activity you did that you are feeling guilty/shamed about (example: binge eating all the Oreos is not a reason to then exercise vigorously for 5 hours straight!). Be kind to yourself, start small, and check in with yourself (and other professionals if needed). I hope you enjoyed this snip-it of information given to you in hopes that you find unique and healthy ways to begin to focus on your physical wellness. More to come!
Created by TheMindfullcup, LLC