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I’m not getting any younger. And sometimes the aging dog needs to learn new tricks. That’s why when we rang in 2019, I sought out new answers to the question of ‘how to be healthy in 2019.’ Sure, I was maintaining my fitness, but we’ve got a new baby on the way and some other big changes ahead – and my fitness, health, and wellness arsenals needed restocking.
That’s why today I’ve asked Stephanie to help us with some tips:
Personal development and self-care gave Stephanie Haywood a boost when she needed it the most. She writes to share with us the gift of self-knowledge, self-care, and self-actualization to help us face life’s challenges.
Here is Stephanie’s answer to my question of how to be healthy in 2019
Every day you wake up is an opportunity for self-improvement. Make this year your Year of Change, and truly commit yourself to do everything you can to improve your health so you wake up every day looking and feeling your best from head to toe.
From getting a good night’s sleep to treating yourself to a pedicure every now and again, tending to your well-being can be very enjoyable. However, self-care isn’t all fun and games – sometimes, there are things you have to do that may not be your favorite. However, there’s no health maintenance activity so unenjoyable that it’s not worth it.
In the end, the pain is worth the gain.
Work for Optimal Oral Hygiene
Your parents didn’t tell you to brush your teeth every day just to annoy you. Your dental health affects almost every other aspect of your physical health (and, thus, your emotional health as well!).
Of course, it’s easy to get in a rut of brushing and flossing without worrying about your oral hygiene even further. But when’s the last time you really evaluated how well you brush? There’s a good chance you don’t do it long enough each morning and night.
Dentists advise that you brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes, spending 30 seconds focusing on each quadrant of the mouth. You also don’t want to overbrush or brush too hard, or else you risk damaging the enamel of your teeth.
A great way to ensure you’re brushing long enough without being too harsh is by investing in an electric toothbrush that times your brushing while enabling you to be gentler on your enamel.
(Mike – Here’s an option we use in our house:)
Flossing is also super important.
However, most floss that you find on the shelves is made from plastic, which ends up polluting the earth’s water supply. To work around the plastic problem, you can either find a biodegradable floss or look into investing in a water flosser that uses water pressure to blast plaque from between your teeth.
Finally, don’t let some misconceptions fool you. Your DDS is an oral hygiene hero. It’s time to bite the bullet and make your next appointment for a cleaning and check-up – twice per year is the ADA recommendation.
You should also know that treatment cost can vary a great deal depending on the dentist you choose. Here is a great guide to get you started with finding a trustworthy doctor who has reasonable prices (nobody wants to pay a fortune for dental care). As the patient, it’s important you understand the treatment plan your doctor is presenting and that the staff works to educate you about your oral health!
Reduce Your Chronic Stress
Chronic stress can negatively affect both your emotional well-being and your physical health. Signs and symptoms of chronic stress include irritability, fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating, disorganized thoughts, difficulty sleeping, digestive problems, changes in appetite, feeling helpless, a perceived loss of control, loss of libido, low self-esteem, anxiousness, and frequent infections or illnesses.
Left unchecked over the long-term, chronic stress can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, a weakened immune system, gastrointestinal disorders, dermatological irritation, respiratory infections, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, and mental illnesses including burnout, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia.
Managing stress takes a multi-faceted approach.
Make sure you are getting enough quality sleep and take advantage of your vacation and sick days when you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed. Exercise is also an important component of stress relief. Not only does it help you work out physical and mental tension, but exercise also helps your brain produce feel-good endorphins and neurotransmitters that mitigate the negative emotional effects of chronic stress.
Try to work out five or six days a week, and mix things up with a healthy balance of cardiovascular, strength-training, and flexibility exercises.
Finally, find some creative ways to release stress on your own terms
More and more people are trying CBD oil as it becomes legalized from state to state. CBD oil is derived from cannabis, but it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as THC), the chemical that makes you feel “high” when consuming marijuana. Rather, CBD reportedly eases anxiety, calms rapid heartbeat, reduces nausea, relieves pain and inflammation, and improves mood overall. Do research online to find out if CBD is legal where you live and find products that appeal to you.
Give Back More
You’re brushing your teeth, flossing, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, and doing everything you can to care for your physical– and, thus, your mental– health.
That’s great! However, one key component of taking care of yourself is actually taking care of others.
Giving back to your community and the people you love is as good for the body as it is for the soul. When you volunteer and give back, it gets you out of your head and contributes to your overall mindfulness.
Research also shows that even small, random acts of kindness improve your mood. People who give back regularly also report more life satisfaction and happiness with increased generosity. Volunteering can even reduce feelings of depression– though, of course, if you think you are depressed, you should consult your doctor about this serious mental illness.
Giving back doesn’t have to be in any official capacity, but many volunteer opportunities are also a chance to get outside and be active.
Look into any local programs for community gardens or planting trees to take advantage of the benefits of giving back along with those of spending time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine.
Additionally, there is ample evidence that the mental health benefits of volunteering and giving back can have a positive impact on your physical health. A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found that people who commit time giving back to others typically had lower blood pressure readings than those who do not.
The long and the short of it is, no matter how you decide to give back, doing so in any capacity is really good for you in many ways. This year, commit to doing so more often.
Eat More Whole Foods
Anybody who grew up in the United States knows how often the idea of convenience in food trumps that of actual nutrition.
People are more likely to reach for a nutrition bar or shake than actually take the time to make a wholesome meal made out of ingredients you can recognize on sight. However, the idea that convenience is more important than your health can lead to problems down the line, as processed foods are associated with a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and obesity.
Processed foods are higher in added sugar, sodium, fat, simple carbohydrates, and artificial ingredients while being low in actual nutrients and fiber. In fact, processed foods like quick meals, deli meats, and sweetened beverages are designed to make you overeat and become addicted them.
This year, commit to bypassing the processed foods pushed on you and start reaching for whole foods instead. This can be difficult at first– as mentioned, Americans have been programmed to turn to junk food that is designed to be addictive.
To restart your system and fall in love with foods that truly nourish your body, try a whole food challenge that guides you to eating well with healthy recipes and snack ideas. Stock your refrigerator with easy-to-reach-for foods, like clementines, grapes, edamame, mixed nuts, baby carrots, and low-fat cheese.
Stay on track even when you’re busy and stressed by coming up with a few easy-to-order meals from restaurants near where you live.
When in doubt, look at the soups and salads, and always ask for your meats grilled, not fried.
At the grocery store, take the time to look at ingredient lists and choose options made with the fewest possible.
When it comes to carbs, look for bread, pasta, rice, and other grains that are left intact rather than stripped of their nutritional value.
Finally, break your habit of drinking sugary drinks, and start carrying around a reusable water bottle instead. Not only will you slash your sugar and calorie consumption, but you can also save nearly $1,000 a year.
If the taste of water is a little bland for you, try adding flavor with a squirt of lemon juice that also contributes a healthy dose of antioxidants and vitamin C to your day.
With some thoughtfulness, 2019 can be the year you make decisions that truly benefit your health from head to toe, from the inside to the out. A great place to start is at your bathroom sink in the morning.
Re-evaluate your oral hygiene habits, and commit to brushing for two minutes each and every time. Make an appointment with your dentist, or find a new one if it’s been some time since your last visit.
Chronic stress isn’t just unenjoyable– it can have a serious negative impact on your long-term health. Get plenty of sleep, take vacation days, exercise, and experiment with new ways to mitigate your stress, such as using CBD oil.
Your health doesn’t always have to be about you. Giving back to your community and loved ones is good for your emotional, mental, and even physical health.
Finally, this year, break your addiction to processed foods and embrace foods as they are meant to be enjoyed. Eating more whole foods and avoiding the junk will help you feel and look better, and can even save you some money.
What are your plans to become or stay healthy in 2019? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll keep this discussion going!
Thanks for reading!