Making Your Health a Priority

Even though most people know that they should be making their health a priority, the reality is that not everyone does. Being dedicated to taking good care of your health is about creating lasting habits that are both attainable and sustainable in your everyday life. Temporary spurts of activity, or putting unreasonable and unrealistic demands on yourself, likely won’t mean lasting results or change. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, adopt habits that you can do every day. For lasting results, avoid extreme commitments, and go for smaller, more obtainable goals that you can handle and work into your everyday life.

Between family, work, and busy schedules, focusing on our personal health can often fall to the bottom of the list. People know they should be eating vegetables, exercising, and drinking more water; however, that does not always mean that they do it. You may ask yourself, “How do I find time for the gym? To eat well? To cook?” Despite the daily grind, family obligations, and the never-ending to-do list, it is possible to make your health a priority without it feeling like a chore. You just have to find what works for you and your lifestyle.

  • Schedule your new habits into your life: a great way to keep organized and accountable is keeping a journal or calendar that you can reference daily. Plan out time slots for exercise or meal prep.
  • Change your environment: pack your fridge and pantry with healthy options that you can reach for on the go.
  • Create habits, not results: focus on the new behaviour you want to achieve, not the outcome. For example, if you want to lose ten pounds by summer, focus on eating clean and exercising. That’s more effective than just focusing on a number on the scale.
  • Remember that small things can make a big difference: park your car a little farther from where you need to go, and walk the rest of the way. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Think of each step as working toward a healthier you. Ditch the diet drinks and drink water instead.

When people think of a healthier lifestyle, they tend to think of just physical health. Your mental health is also a key component of your overall health and wellness. Physical and mental health are very closely linked. If you have poor mental health, you are at greater risk for developing chronic health conditions, and people with chronic health conditions are at a greater risk of developing mental health issues. Maintaining good physical health can have a significant impact on mental health. Regular physical exercise increases the release of endorphins in the brain, which help to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, relieve tension in the body, reduce stress, and increase overall mood.

Connection with others is also important to maintaining or improving your mental health. Having a network of friends and family to lean on will help with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Your network can consist of family and close friends, as well as teammates and classmates. Consider joining a team or a club, taking a class, or joining a hobby group to connect with like-minded people with similar interests.

Another key component to better physical and mental health is sleep. Sleep is essential to every process in the human body. It affects our physical and mental functioning and helps our ability to fight infection, heart disease, and obesity.

There are times when we will make choices that we know are not good for us. One of the hardest things to do is to forgive ourselves and get back on track. Small hiccups don’t make you a failure; they make you human. Just get back into your healthy routine. Get back to your small changes, back to your positive behaviours, and right back to achieving your desired outcome.

ARTACares is included at no additional cost with all ARTA Benefit Plans and is provided by HumanaCare, an Alberta-based health and wellness provider with more than thirty-five years of Canadian health care experience. For more information on health and wellness topics, webinars, and articles, visit your eldercare portal.