With more and more companies embracing the importance of wellness in the workplace, it has become fairly easy for employees to maintain healthy habits at work. The issue comes after quitting time, when people go home exhausted and need a culture of wellness at home. Off with the slacks and on with the sweatpants, a quick dinner for the family, a few chores later and there you are: planted firmly on the couch until bedtime.
For many individuals, staying healthy is easier when it is a group effort. Having a wellness culture at work can have an incredible impact on employees’ habits… when they are at work. The trick is taking those healthy habits home as well, and creating a culture of wellness in the household, where many of us spend most of our time. There is more to wellness than simply eating a carrot every now and then and walking the dog twice a day. What makes a wellness culture so powerful is that it touches each part of everyday life:
Surprise! Diet is an integral part of wellness culture. Doctors recommend a balanced diet consisting of low-fat foods, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Every meal should be properly portioned; eating a plate of whole-grain pasta for every meal isn’t an option. Avoid saturated fats and cholesterol where you can, and maintain a moderate intake of sugars and salts. The Mayo Clinic created this visual guide to help you create your ideal healthy diet.
Again, this one is a real shocker. Before you get discouraged about it, though, understand that a little physical activity goes a long way. For those of us who are not gym rats, as little as thirty minutes of aerobic exercise per day can be enough to keep our bodies fit and healthy (provided we also adhere to a healthy diet). Aside from that, keep your body moving when you can; this means doing stretches and exercises at your desk, getting up to stretch your legs after periods of sitting, and using free time wisely. If you simply have to watch an entire season on Netflix in one go, do squats while you watch; do a couple sets of lunges while you brush your teeth; jog in place while you wait for your food to finish in the microwave. Look for opportunities every day to keep your body in motion.
Part of establishing a culture of wellness at home is forming healthy habits. Besides exercise and diet, there are a number of other behaviors to consider. Substance use should be limited: that includes alcohol, tobacco and nicotine, and any other substances. A glass of wine with dinner is encouraged by some healthcare professionals, but daily habits should not be formed around substance use.
Other habits to form are good dental hygiene like brushing and flossing, wearing sunscreen and minimizing sun exposure when possible, and drinking plenty of water. These things may seem obvious, but who hasn’t been scolded by a dentist for not flossing enough, or by a doctor for not wearing sunscreen? These are little things that truly add up, and can be the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy home culture.
When we think of working out, we usually think of exercises our bodies, but not our brains. However, it is important to keep our minds active with mental exercises; whether it’s sudoku, crossword puzzles, reading, or learning a language, stimulate your brain everyday to keep it young and healthy.
At night, our bodies repair themselves for the following day. REM sleep is imperative for bodily functions, and most adults require between seven and nine hours of rest to achieve the right amount of REM. Keep a regular sleep schedule and consider forming a sleep routine, such as meditation or reading before bed, dimming the lights in the evening, and eliminating the use of electronic devices after a certain hour.
Even the most introverted among us require some social contact to remain emotionally healthy. Keep in contact with loved ones when possible, even if it’s just the occasional phone call or Facebook poke. Consider volunteering or other community service, and look into recreational activities that increase your contact with the outside world, like a social club.
Last but certainly not least, maintain your health by monitoring your body and emotions. Be aware of any signs that you may need medical care, like aches and pains or feelings of anxiety or depression. Cultivate both physical and mental health by receiving annual check-ups and being mindful of your own needs. If you ever believe that you require additional help, never hesitate to contact medical professionals for assistance. Health-conscious living is just that: a conscious effort. So be sure to create a culture that benefits you in every way: emotionally, physically, and spiritually.