self-care

Self-Care: Cultivating Healthy Habits

This is YOUR Year for Self-Care

Happy New Year, everyone! January is the official month of wellness and self-care, and many people inadvertently seek to establish better lifestyle habits after a holiday season of indulging in festive foods and sparkling beverages.

(It’s okay—we’re all guilty!)

As a health and wellness coach, I love hearing about my clients’ strong desires to begin a path of healthy lifestyle choices—let’s begin this change together! Let’s take our health and wellness into our own hands and make conscious decisions together, one-step-at-a-time.

Documenting your goals, tracking your nutrition stats, and having a fitness routine established, is an essential way to stay on top of your new and improved lifestyle. You can do this with your own copy of My Wellness Journal, an organized strategy that I have created utilizing my professional knowledge and many years of training and expertise in wellness, fitness, nutrition, and goal setting.

You can pick up a copy here to get started!

I have separated the key areas to confront to achieve your health and wellness goals, below. Trust me, some very simple changes can create an enormous difference:

Diet

The number one thing most people think of in terms of self-care, is diet. When it comes to eating healthfully, I have come to live by this mantra: “Eat food. Not Too much. Mostly Plants.” These seven genius words of simplicity come from the book In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and later aired as a PBS documentary based around the concept of “healthy-ish” eating habits.

I’m all about treating your mind and body with respect, which means that once in awhile you must give a little, and then you can get a little. For example, if you are planning on having a big steak for dinner with baked potato, melted butter, cheese and garlic bread, then maybe plan on a healthy smoothie for breakfast and salad for lunch.

There is no use in stressing out about what you eat from time to time, as it only increases your cortisol levels, which can make you gain weight (mostly in the belly, too). By implementing the “healthy-ish” philosophy, everything is best enjoyed in moderation—including moderation.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene

Sleep deprivation is seriously the root of all evils. We all know the common side effects of little sleep: feeling groggy or sluggish in the afternoons, increased irritability, sore muscles, decreased work productivity, falling asleep while watching TV, requiring an alarm clock to wake, and continuous yawning throughout the day. The list goes on and one!

But did you realize that constant lack of adequate sleep can contribute to some serious health issues, such as heart disease, decrease in memory retention, increase risk of diabetes and obesity (adequate sleep is required for proper glucose processing and insulin regulation), and increases the risk of depression and other mental illness?

So: how can you practice good sleep hygiene (and therefore, better self-care)? There are all kinds of typical bad habits that need to be broken at bedtime. Screens need to be put away, no food or caffeine beyond a certain time, limited or no alcohol, and more. There’s a great article about practicing good sleep hygiene; and can be found here.

You can also try to implement new bedtime rituals like yoga to help balance your thoughts and promote calmness and relaxation. We found this amazing bedtime yoga routine: give it try to start improving your sleep tonight! If yoga isn’t your thing, here are eight natural ways to treat chronic poor sleep.

Another way to improve your sleep pattern, is to analyze your needs and know how many hours of sleep you require to function properly the next day. Each person has a unique and optimum number of hours that they need to rest, and one will require more sleep than another. To discover your optimal sleep pattern, creep your bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier every few days until you start waking up before your alarm, including on weekends. Once this occurs for a minimum of one week, you have found the sufficient number of hours of sleep you need.

Exercise

Without a doubt, a moderate exercise plan will be an important part of your self-care routine. There are various ways to exercise for all fitness levels that don’t necessarily have to include a gym membership, yet will still give you the results you’re looking for—just be sure to get started with a fitness instructor who will ensure you get proper guidance and training to avoid serious injury.

For people who may not be interested in a gym membership and don’t know what fitness level they are at (or where to even begin!), the professional help from a wellness coach or personal trainer is a smart way to get started.

Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too far, too fast. By doing that, you are at serious risk of getting injured. I can’t stress the importance of getting a coach and a good training plan. Fitness experts (like health coaches, fitness instructors and personal trainers) have the expertise to guide and inspire and don’t have to cost a fortune.

Mind and Spirit

Meditation

Having good mental health is essential in improving your self-care habits. Reducing stress and feeling content within yourself is crucial to beginning your journey down a path of health and wellness. Again, having a good wellness coach to mentor you, guide you, and encourage you through it all will ensure your success with your lifestyle changes.

Having good mental health also means mindfulness. Being mindful of your surroundings, being aware of what you eat and drink and what you do during the day is by far the best way to start. You must be mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready to welcome healthy habits into your lifestyle!

The practice of meditation will allow your mind to open, and goes very well with mindfulness. Once you’ve trained yourself on noticing your environment, teaching yourself to relax with meditation will become a little easier. Many yoga classes will have 10 minutes dedicated at the end of class to do just that—it’s called savasana. This is a great introductory to the art of meditation!

If you’re seeking increased wellness this January and would like the professional help of a highly trained and experienced health and wellness coach, I would love to hear from you.

Visit my website or contact me directly and let’s get started together. Love, Sophie.

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