Maybe the current health crisis that threatens our nation motivates you to change unhealthy behaviors, but the decision to move forward might feel overwhelming for you right now. Let’s link arms and take these steps together. Five lifestyle changes can help crisis-proof your health.
It’s human nature to trivialize health risks until the threat of one grabs our attention. The threat could be a chronic disease, a health problem due to lifestyle choices, or a global pandemic.
What can you do to protect your fortress?
During the hot and humid Mid-Atlantic summers, one of our favorite activities is to go to the beach to escape the heat. We often spend countless hours building sandcastles at the shoreline. Usually, my job is to build a moat to protect the castle.
When the sandcastle building begins, any threat of waves bombarding our creation seems distant. Before we know it, the tide comes in, and waves pound against the shore. So it happens, a surge of saltwater fills our moat, which then threatens the stability of our castle.
Within seconds, water and sand blend into a tawny liquid that washes our sandcastle out to sea.
Much like the sandcastle that needed a more durable barrier, our body requires a plan to fight offer illnesses.
Our body is a fortress designed to fight invaders. Most of us understand that basic concept. We have a responsibility to protect and strengthen our body-fortress.
I’ve been entrusted with the responsibility for my health. I can’t solely rely on medical professionals to tell me how to take care of my body. Over the years, we’ve unfortunately come to expect them to assume all of the responsibility in maintaining our health.
People must begin to change from passive recipients of medical care to active, self-responsible participants.Elmer E. Green, Ph.D., Menninger Foundation
For too long, the general attitude about healthy living is to seek a quick fix through a formula or program.
Reflect for a moment about what holds you back from pursuing a lifestyle of healthy living so that it is in a constant state of crisis-proof?
Crisis-Proof Your Health
The other day I participated in an online class for grad school. Someone asked me a pivotal question, “What are your values?”
After a few seconds of reflection, I realized that I could combine all of my values into one sentence:
“Well,” I said, “It is to glorify God in my writing, which is my professional life and to glorify God in my daily living.”
Dr. Robert “Bob” Cutillo, M.D. suggests that we view health as a gift. Rather than seeing health as a material good managed for our personal happiness, we receive it as a precious endowment.”
If we see health as a gift, Dr. Cutillo further explains, then “we become better able to discern its deeper reason—it is given for a purpose, to accomplish some good beyond itself.
As with all gifts, it is out of deep respect and gratitude that we take care of the gift of our body and health.
My Wellness Binder includes a printable for writing down prayers and reflections.
2. Healthy Eating
We should always strive to eat foods that nourish and strengthen our bodies. Especially during a health crisis, it is wise to practice healthy eating and living. What you eat affects your immune system.
A plant-based eating plan provides nutrient-dense and low-inflammatory foods.
A recent study conducted by D.L. Katz of Yale University School of Public Health and S. Meller of Yale University School of Medicine studied several dietary plans, some of which I mentioned above, and concluded that:
David M. Dunaief, M.D., an internist specializing in lifestyle medicine, suggests “by implementing whole foods, plant-based diet can improve or even reverse these chronic diseases, decrease inflammation and strengthen the immune system.”
3. Reduce Stress
Work, school, finances, significant life changes, and traumatic events can evoke stress. I need to mention that not all stress is bad. Stress can help you survive a threat, enhance learning and memory, and achieve goals.
It’s the prolonged stress that affects the brain and impacts well-being. Both of which can develop physical and emotional problems. Long-term stress can suppress the immune system, which makes us more vulnerable to infectious diseases and less able to recover from illnesses.
A friend of mine worked in a stressful environment for decades. She worked long hours at her job then came home to the responsibilities of family life.
Exhausted from the workday, she had little energy or enthusiasm to prepare nutritious meals, so they often ate fast food or processed meals.
Years of this lifestyle led to a heart attack at age 46. Until the heart attack, my friend never felt vulnerable to a health problem. After recovering from her heart attack, she knew it was time to make drastic changes to her lifestyle.
Crisis-proof your health by managing negative stress.
Stress management tips:
- Devise an eating plan that includes whole foods, mostly plants.
- Get rest – it helps your body restore itself.
- Incorporate relaxation techniques into your day.
- Practice self-care
- Consider Health and wellness coaching
- Devise a movement or exercise routine
4. Get Rest
Sufficient sleep supports the body in fighting off invaders.
Tips for improved sleep:
- Structure your bedtime routine by going to bed at a consistent time and getting up at the same time each morning.
- Create an environment that welcomes sleep. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and temperature regulated.
- Avoid consuming large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before your established bedtime.
- Establish a daily exercise routine. Physical activity during the day promotes sleep at night.
Daily exercise helps you maintain your health. Physical activity in various forms reduces the risk of chronic diseases (which suppresses the immune system), helps fight depression and anxiety, and strengthens the immune system. Exercise “is a planned, structured, and repetitive pattern intended to improve fitness.”
Exercise and movement don’t mean you have to join a gym. There are other ways to get physical activity.
The Crisis-Proof Action Plan in Review
When it comes to fortifying your body, it calls for a plan. I am here to help you harness the strength it takes to overcome the obstacles that stand in your way.
We can reframe those obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow.
If you find yourself off-track with your health and wellness journey, start here with these 5 ways:
- Spiritual Life
- Cultivate whole food, mostly plant-based eating plan
- Reduce Stress
- Get Rest
- Exercise Movement
You don’t have to begin all five at one time. Create a healthy living blueprint that works for you. Just start right where you are.
Any time you begin a healthy living lifestyle, it helps to build a support team. A circle of friends that inspire and challenge you on your journey. If that sounds like something you need, then join my soulful, no-FUSS healthy living circle of friends.