The previous two weeks we have covered what to do to maintain your health in terms of fitness and what to eat and drink. In this third part of four posts for the month of June, we’re going to cover some of the other factors that help contribute to your overall wellness. I will say out front and I thought of this over the weekend as we watched Kate Middleton making an appearance with the rest of the Royal Family, Trooping the Colour in London, you can do all the things right eat healthy, eat exercise, and come down with some debilitating illness, like cancer out of the blue. Whether it was in her make-up/hereditary or brought on by the stresses of constantly in the public eye, who knows, and really it doesn’t matter, these things happen, even when we live a picture of health and wellness.  The Princess of Wales appears to live a life of wellness with fitness being a big part of her life.  What we’re looking at here in terms of wellness, is doing everything we can to increase the odds of living a healthy life as long as we’re here. What I will say is that if you do take care of your body,  if something does happen and you do come down with an illness, your body is better equipped to fight that illness the stronger you are to begin with and I’m thinking that that must play a role in Kate Middleton’s recovery. Wishing her continued success in her recovery and many days ahead with her family.

     What are the other factors that contribute to a life of wellness? That’s what we’re going to discuss here. I’m going to begin with sleep because that’s how we start our day waking up from a good nights sleep, hopefully. If you have ever had a sleepless night or a string of sleepless nights, you know how horrible it is to wake up in the morning, when you feel you didn’t get a restful sleep. I would explain to my children when they were growing up, that when they sleep their battery charges itself. A good night’s sleep,  charges your body’s “battery.” When children are young, that is when most of their development happens.  Adequate sleep.  For adults,  sleep plays a big role in your body’s ability to refresh itself and recharge for the next day.  When you sleep, your body gets to ‘turn the motor off.’ If you happen to be sick, you have a cold or the flu, sleep is the best thing to recover. Because as mentioned above, when you sleep and rest your body has a chance to repair itself. The average adult needs between six and nine hours of sleep every night to check the quality of your sleep to feel rested and ready for the next day. There are many ways you can track your sleep. If you want to make sure you’re getting nice deep sleep. An Apple Watch, Fitbit or Oura Ring are excellent pieces of technology that allow you to asses sleep and other useful statistics.  The Oura Ring is a new product recommended by many medical professionals. Having had a sleep problem before I am very mindful of making sure I get a good nights sleep. Some recommendations for a good night’s sleep, no phone/computer/tablet an hour prior to sleep, as the light is not good for your eyes, nor is it good for you to read/see something that might worry your before bed, like bad news. Some other things to do to help you settle down for a good nights sleep a warm bath or shower, soft music and soft lights. A cooler temperature allows for you to be relaxed so that you can be comfortable when you sleep. Another thing that contributes to a good nights sleep is physical activity during the day which exhausts the body so that it is ready to rest and when bedtime comes.

     Another aspect of our lives that contributes to our wellness and we don’t think about the significance of this sometimes but the importance of good relationships and social ties. Many years ago, Dr.Michael Roizen wrote a book called, Real Age,  where they looked at the factors the contributed to healthy long life. Dr. Oz contributed with him on a follow up book. Of course, exercise and eating well, limited alcohol use, no tobacco, were part of this, but one of the factors near the top of the list was strong social interactions. When you have good people in your lives, whether it’s your family or close friends, you have people to do things with.  There was a PBS special many years ago about a town in Pennsylvania, Roseto, that had an astounding amount of residents who lived long lives.  The Doctor, Dr. Wolf, who conducted this study, concluded that it was the sense of community that ended up contributing to residents’ overall health, calling this the Roseto Effect. According to many statistics and studies, people who are married tend to live longer.   You could look at this in terms of your fitness as well. I work at a gym and I enjoy walking through that door and seeing the staff at the front desk, who know my name, whether I’m teaching or participating in a class I like, showing up and seeing people I know in addition to how it makes me feel if motivates me. The very few days that I don’t feel like being there, I walk through the door. I hear my name when I walk in and I see other people working out and I think if they all get themselves out of bed and here, I can do this too. The social interactions in your life may be your neighbors, your church community, we all need people in our lives to spend time with and to have fellowship with.

     Another factor that Dr. Oz and Dr. Rose mentioned in their book was a strong faith. A faith  gives you something to believe in that’s bigger than yourself, an organized community of people, social activities, enrichment and a sense of belonging.

     Another factor in a life of wellness is making those annual appointments and having those annual screenings. if you are in the habit of going in for your physical once a year, your eye exam every year, having your teeth cleaned twice a year and an annual OB/GYN exam for women, you have several health professionals keeping tabs on you. If something doesn’t seem right, one of them will most likely notice it. I’ve heard several cases of dentist who have found cancers of the mouth, optometrist who have found serious eye conditions, and if those are treated early on, the prognosis of a good outcome is greater. There are many illnesses and conditions that if found early on treatable. Those annual appointments, put them on the calendar and let nothing interfere with you getting there.    

     Do something for someone else.  We all can get self-centered and too focused on ourself.  Make it a habit to help someone who could use a little boost.  Start with little gestures like holding the door open for the person behind you.  Volunteer in the nursery at church, at a local school or give blood.  If you know someone who recently went through a tough time, check in with them and see if there is anything you can do to help out.  It’s very easy to get consumed with our own problems.  You just never know how your small kind gesture may brighten someone else’s day or mood.   

     Are your surroundings supporting wellness?  If there are things around your home that would make you feel more up, do them.  For example, I like our home to be organized with the bed made first thing in the morning, laundry caught up, garbage taken out at night, and things done at night before I go to bed so that when I get up in the morning, there are no dishes in the sink, laundry to put away and the day can start fresh with nothing hanging over my head when I get up. Those are the things that help me.  What helps you feel settled?  Music helps lift my mood so I like music playing and have a nice inexpensive speaker in the kitchen, bedroom and where I am writing. Scents can lift one’s mood too.  Cool mist diffusers are very popular now.  They are ‘clean’ and a nice essential oil added to the water can give a room a nice lift.  My favorite scents are peppermint and orange. Using a diffuser can be less expensive and better for your home than purchasing numerous candles. Find scents you like that enhance your home. Seeing sunlight when you wake up is recommended by many health professionals.  Open the blinds or window when you wake up to get a little dose of vitamin D from some sunlight.  Think about the things that could elevate your wellness at home and incorporate them into your routine.

     Do you have a hobby that helps you unwind?  Whether it is a good book, knitting, putting together puzzles, drawing or painting, having something that creates a calmness in you is a good thing.  If you don’t have a hobby and there is something that you have always wanted to do,gather supplies/ take some lessons either online or in person and execute a plan to make it possible.

     Lastly, set up your life so that living well is as easy as possible for you. Spend some time thinking about the things that make you happy.  If you like the thought of getting away, make it happen.  Plan it financially, shop for a good deal and do it.  Be intentional about your life, spending time the way you want to, doing the things you want to do.  Have a workout bag packed with the things you need in it, so that going to the gym or to your favorite class is as easy as possible.  As often as you can, making living well what you do.  Be around people who are positive and like minded, do the little things like flossing your teeth, brushing before bed, limiting alcohol and sugar.  It a massage is something that sounds good to you, get it on the calendar and do it.  I like a deep tissue massage and look forward to my appointments.  I feel the benefits for weeks following.  If your routine screenings show that you need supplements, order/purchase them and make sure they are part of your daily routine. Same with eating well, mentioned last week, stock your fridge and pantry with the items necessary so that living well becomes part of what you do everyday.

     I have heard the expression, Living Well is the best revenge.  Revenge?  How about Living well is worth the effort.  That sounds much better.  Your family and those you love are counting on you to be around as long as you can.  Why not do all you can TO increase those chances.  And, if you are going to be around for a while, wouldn’t it be nice to do all you can do to increase the amount of GREAT Days for you to enjoy with good health?  I think so.

Author, Mary Yana Burau