Being healthy often gets equated with how you look on the outside. That’s like stating a car is fast by its looks. The reality, it’s what’s under the hood that makes a car fast. Same with a person.
While we idolize women who are size 2, there are plenty who are unhealthy in how they stay that slim (be it physically or mentally). Meanwhile, a size 12 may get judging looks, but one who is active and happy is far more healthy overall than most.
That’s what we want to dig into here.
We’ve talked about how wellness is a combination of fitness and nutrition many times on this blog — after all, you are what you eat. However, if you’re trying to prioritize your overall health, eating right and exercising are only two pieces of the puzzle.
Here are three things you can do to take care of your mental and physical health in the New Year:
1. Sleep well
Getting eight hours of sleep per night sounds simple enough, but it’s often easier said than done.
Of course, getting a good night’s sleep will leave you feeling well-rested and refreshed in the morning. It’s proven to boost your mood, but there are also unseen benefits to getting good sleep, such as a lower risk of developing heart disease and dementia.
Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development of several chronic diseases and conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, and several cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension and strokes.
A lack of sleep can even slow down your progress at the gym. Not only will it make you less energetic about your workouts, but it can also lead to reduced muscle strength and a higher chance of injury when you do work out.
2. Take care of your mental health
Feeling your best isn’t just about what you put into your body. In fact, your mental health — your “emotional, psychological, and social well-being”— has more to do with your overall health than you might think.
Much like lack of sleep, if your mental health is suffering, whether from stress or a mental illness, your physical health can deteriorate. While mental health problems can lead to chronic conditions like heart disease, issues with depression and anxiety can also lead to lower-stakes health problems like headaches, digestive problems, and stomach issues.
While eating well and exercising can do wonders for your emotional health, engaging in social environments is the key. Not only will it help reduce stress, but having a strong support system can also help you maintain healthy behaviors and keep yourself on track with healthy goals.
To truly prioritize your mental health, take note of the “four pillars” of good mental health: nutrition, exercise, sleep, and relaxation. While our busy lives tend to take precedence, taking time to check in with yourself will leave you with a healthier mind and body.
3. Eat well
Yeah, eating well is something we’ve talked about on this blog countless times. But it’s true – if you eat nourishing foods, your mind and body will thank you.
Of course, eating well will help you lose weight, but it’ll also give you more energy and reduce the risk of disease. Eating a balanced diet will also enhance your immune system, improve your blood pressure, and give you energy.
Having the energy to go about your day will evidently improve your mental health, too.
Eating well is also proven to keep us more alert, gives us the ability to think more clearly and improve concentration. It doesn’t sound like much, but you’ll notice a better, more concentrated performance at work, at the gym, and in your relationships.
So, while it’s great to admire what you see physically in the mirror, loving everything you see in that mirror – body, mind, and person – is the overall health we should all strive for in 2023 and beyond.
Sean Ostruszka is an active creator. A national-award winning writer for numerous industries, Ostruszka also delves into photography, design, product development and more, while being an avid family man, outdoorsman and fitness enthusiast.