Many of us are on working on leading healthy and happy lives. We do our best to take care of our bodies because it’s not easy to be happy and enjoy life when your body won’t let you. When it comes to healthy living most of us think that there are two factors involved: healthy eating and exercising. It’s easy to think that more of these is better; more veggies, more junk food restrictions, more cardio, more strength training. In fact, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of this that we can easily become unhappy and often our first solution to this is to go more extreme. In reality, there are two other factors to a healthy lifestyle that are often forgotten about: mental health and emotional health. Juggling two things is easy (healthy eating and exercising) but when two more things get thrown at you, everything can end up falling down. That is why a healthy lifestyle is a balancing act. You have to balance your physical health with your mental and emotional health.
Living a balanced life means taking all aspects of your life under consideration. This means you have to look at your work, relationships, fitness, emotional health, and physical health and how they all fit together. It’s like having a 5-way teeter-totter (see-saw). Sure, you can put all of your energy and focus into one or two of these, but you won’t have balance. The trick is to figure out what you need to do for each of these to find your balance.
It’s easy to get preoccupied with work, family, and all of your other responsibilities. At the end of all this it’s easy for your batteries to get drained, that’s why it’s important to have time for yourself to recharge them.
Stress Reduction and Mental Health
Let’s be honest, everyone wants to be happy. That’s the ultimate goal because being happy feels amazing. However, stress can seriously interfere with this and, as we all know, have a negative impact on our health. Engaging in creative activities can help reduce stress and boost happiness. To help reduce your stress levels, there are a few things you can try:
- Schedule time for yourself to destress. This can be done as often as you need, but try to do it at least once a week. Try and focus on relaxing for at least a few minutes each day.
- Wake up earlier. Give yourself time in the morning before you have to go deal with the hustle and bustle of life. Take some time to just enjoy the moment.
- Devote more time to a hobby. It can be easy to come home and just sit in front of the TV and do something mindless. Instead, try doing something you enjoy. Even if you do just want to vegetate in that moment, you’ll be glad you got up and did something.
- Make everyday tasks more enjoyable. Take your mindless daily activities and change them to make them more enjoyable. Try aromatherapy in the shower, have a themed dinner, blast some awesome dance music while you’re cleaning the house. Learn to enjoy the little things!
- Get away from your desk at your lunch break. Take advantage of the summer sun and go for a walk or, in the winter, get social with your colleagues. Even if these aren’t options for you, bring a book to read, work on a craft, write, just find something to get you away from your desk and take a break from work.
- Laugh. Laughing regularly is one of the 7 Habits of Highly Healthy People. It’s impossible to be stressed while you are laughing. In addition to stress reduction, laughing also helps to boost your brain health, fight off infection, lower your blood pressure, and improve your mood.
Reducing your stress levels can help you balance other aspects of your life.
As we all know, exercise is good for your overall health and a balanced lifestyle. The most important thing to note about exercise is that it isn’t something you should force yourself to do. If you are constantly having to force yourself to hit the gym, then it’s not likely something you will stick with. Luckily there isn’t just one way to do exercise. There are so many activities out there that you can do, find one that you like and gets you excited. Essentially, you have to find what works for you and aim to do it 3-5 times a week. Regular exercise helps boost your endorphins, build muscle, and improve your cardiovascular health.
Again, we all know the basics of healthy eating: more veggies and lean proteins, less junk and processed foods. However, that doesn’t mean only veggies and lean protein, no junk or processed foods. Engaging in restrictive eating behaviours messes with your psyche and puts off the balance with your mental and emotional health. Eating healthy is as much about eating good foods as it is about also having a good relationship with food. When it comes to healthy eating plan on eating whole unprocessed foods. When you get struck with cravings, don’t tell yourself “I can’t have that”. Instead, tell yourself it’s okay and you can have it or, if you can, think about why it is that you’re craving that food. Healthy eating has been a lifelong struggle for me. What I’ve found works best is to eat a lot of high nutrient foods for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. That way I’m less likely to find myself craving mint chocolate chip ice-cream for dinner. I’ve also learned that if I’m not hungry, it’s still good to keep some veggies on my desk, otherwise when I do start to feel hungry I’m going to want to go straight for the cookie aisle at the grocery store.
Many people find healthy eating to be tedious, it takes a lot of time and effort per meal. Sure, having to grocery shop and cook is more effort than going to pick up a burger on the way home. What I want to stress here is that the quality outweighs the quantity. What I mean by this is that the quality of the food you are putting in your body is so worth the amount time it takes to prepare it.
Some other helpful tips to make healthy eating easier are:
- Keep fresh fruits and veggies ready to go. Buy some baby carrots and humus, it’s an easy, healthy, and filling snack. This will help keep you full until dinner is ready.
- Plan your meals out a week in advance. When you know what you’re going to make and have the ingredients ready, you don’t have to worry about coming home and having to decide what to cook for dinner. It also means you’ll be less likely to order pizza!
- Have a protein packed breakfast. This will help to keep you full for longer since protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates.
- Make veggies a main part of every meal! Stop thinking of veggies as your side dish. Stuff them in your chicken or add shrimp to your veggie stir-fry!
- Don’t deny your favourite foods. Everything in moderation.
The trickiest part about a healthy lifestyle (which means being balanced) is that it’s not the same for everyone. There’s no step by step instruction manual for you to follow. It takes time to figure out what works for you (hell, I’m still working on it). The important thing is to be honest to yourself about who you are and what you want. Even if you get your balance wrong and end up having crazy stressful days, learn from these. Figure out what your triggers are and what you can do to prevent them from happening and how to cope with them when they do happen. Learn to smile when life hands you a bucket of sh*t!
Thank you for taking the time to read my post! I’d also love to hear what you do to maintain balance in your life! Feel free to leave a comment!