Whether you are locking in your new year’s resolutions or simply looking to turn the page on what has been a tumultuous 2020, taking charge of your health has never been more important.
PIX11 asked three health experts to provide simple steps to help set you up for success in your wellness journey.
Q: Why is it important to have conversations about mental wellness with young people, especially young women of color?
Lauren Carson, Executive Director and founder of ‘Black Girls Smile‘: Mental health impacts all areas of our lives; relationships with family, friends, lovers, ourselves, how we show up in the world, how we interrupt the world. It’s critically important to educate youth, especially young women of color about mental health so they can understand, work through, and heal from various life experiences and traumas. Focusing on all aspects of mental health the good and the bad helps us ultimately strengthen our coping skills and self-care methods to cultivate and sustain positive mental health and well-being.
Q: How can people consistently maintain their mental well-being during these ongoing times of uncertainty?
Josh Jonas, Men’s Health Expert from the Village Institute: When consistently maintaining mental well-being becomes a struggle, it is often due to people believing that if you can’t “go huge,” you shouldn’t try at all. Luckily, that’s completely false. If we can adopt the idea of doing less more often, we can wildly improve our mental well-being, with an idea I love called “winning the morning.” The key to our well-being is consistency, so picking a few things to do in the morning from the list below, done every day, will show drastic changes in your mental well-being.
1. Make your bed
2. Journal for 5 minutes
3. Try doing some kind of 5-10 minute meditation or breath work
5. Try doing some form of a gratitude practice
6. Take a cold shower (extra credit for this one)
You don’t have to do all of these, but staying consistent with a few over time have the ability to drastically change how you feel —with the key being consistency. Go for quantity here, see how many days in a row you can put together. The first few days may feel awful, but push through and you will see what consistency over time can do.
Q: What are three tips do you have for someone looking to start their health and wellness journey for the first time this year?
Jess Woloszyn, nutrition coach and founder of Bliss By Wellness: This year showed us just how important our health is, so it makes sense that many of us are embarking on our own health and wellness journeys for the first time this year. It may seem daunting, but take a breath and know that your journey is unique to you, and you’re already on your way.
1. Swap overly-processed food for real, whole foods
Start by stocking up on cost-effective pantry staples like canned vegetables and soups that give you a healthy option in a pinch. Next, think about what you can remove from your kitchen to avoid the temptation. Look for the number of ingredients on your nutrition label as a good indicator of how far the food is from its natural state. When the list takes up half the box or bag, you may want to look into alternatives. Are fast food options your kryptonite-on-the -go? Keep protein bars, trail mix, or on-the-go shakes in your car or purse to get excited about when you leave the house and cravings come calling.
2. Drink enough water, then drink even more
Our skin, our digestion, our mood—they all benefit from getting enough water. Aim for 4-6 cups daily but don’t go counting your glass refills if that’s not your jam. Make it easier with a water bottle that holds at least 24 ounces. Throw some mint, cucumber, berries, or lemon in the bottle to curb the bland taste of plain water if you’re struggling.
3. Eat three balanced meals a day
When you pause to consume three balanced meals of protein, fiber, plant-based nutrients (fruits and vegetables), and healthy fat — yes, I said fat — you set your entire body up for success. Not only does it promote a healthy weight, but it balances your hunger hormones and blood sugar levels that can cause mood disruption and markers of disease when out of whack for too long.