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Feel better, healthier in six days

by Tracy Dye

Improve your wellness in less than one week

How do you achieve optimal wellness in order to lead a healthy, more fulfilling life? Holistically speaking, wellness is composed of several different dimensions that are inextricably linked. Your job, finances, environment, social life, emotions, spirituality and physical health all have an impact on your quality of life. Moreover, when one area of wellness is suffering, the other facets react in kind. Physical ailments can lead to mental and emotional distress, just as the pressures of everyday life can have a pernicious effect on things like cardiovascular health.

You don’t need to completely upend your routine in order to work toward a happier, healthier self. Improve your overall wellness in just one week by referencing the daily checklist below.

1. Eat mindfully

Time for a gut check! Did you know that — along with physical wellbeing — food can drastically impact your mood? Refined sugars, gluten and dairy can potentially trigger feelings of anxiety and depression. Conversely, lean proteins, essential fats, B vitamins and magnesium have been shown to encourage a positive mood.

A rule of thumb to keep in mind at the grocery store is this: the fewer ingredients, the better.

When enjoying a meal, take time to eat mindfully. It takes the mind approximately 20 minutes to catch on that the stomach is full, so rushing through food as opposed to savoring it can lead to overconsumption and digestive issues.

2. Hydrate

Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headache and issues with blood pressure. According to the Institute of Medicine, the average amount of fluid that should be consumed per day is 13 cups for men and nine cups for women. These needs can fluctuate based on personal makeup, activity level and seasonal changes. Keep a bottle or tumbler of water available to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Although water is the choice beverage for hydration, it isn’t the only fluid to sip for wellness. Teas and coffees are loaded with antioxidants, which protect cells from destructive free radicals. The tasty brews have also been linked to weight loss, memory recall and prevention of various cancers. Just be wary of consuming more than a couple cups of joe — too much caffeine can leave you anxious and unable to sleep.

3. Take a mind body class

It’s no secret that exercise begets wellness. Up your strength while lowering your stress by taking a mind body class, such as: barre, pilates, yoga, qigong or tai chi. Mind body classes can also contribute to social wellness, as exercising with a group can build a sense of camaraderie.

To further your wellness through physical activity, try incorporating more movement into your routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk for 30 minutes in favor of television after dinner and make one of your weekend activities something like hiking.

4. Use positive affirmations

When your inner critic rears its ugly head, it can be easy to become enveloped by negative self-talk. Thought is a powerful thing, so make it a tool instead of a crutch. Research shows that utilizing positive self-affirmations can lead to lower stress and increased productivity.

5. Stop losing sleep

Feeling like you woke up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed is only one consequence of not catching enough Zs. According to various research studies, insufficient sleep can lead to impaired memory function, depression, weight gain and lowered productivity among other things. The exact amount of sleep needed each night will vary from person to person, but is generally somewhere around seven and 10 hours. To stave off insomnia, try using these tips for healthy sleep from the National Sleep foundation.

6. Pay it forward

The gift of giving is mutually beneficial. Research shows that the practice of generosity can greatly encourage overall wellness. Moreover, random acts of kindness tend to have a domino effect where others become inspired to pay it forward. In other words, doing good can be contagious.

Wellness does not need to be achieved through leaps and bounds; small steps can produce big results. Take things one day at a time and — above all else — treat yourself with kindness.

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