By Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, APNP
This year will be different. This year you will turn things around and realize your goals towards happiness and health.
Here’s a quick list of simple, proven tips that can help. Of course, when you’re making changes like these, it’s important to start off with realistic expectations. Remember that new habits can take a while to “click.” So be patient with yourself. Don’t give up if you have little slips now and then. You’re only human, after all.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Did you know many of us walk around in a state of permanent dehydration? It’s true. And when we’re feeling tired or hungry, we often don’t realize that what we really need is just a big glass of water.
How much water should you drink? There’s no universal answer. One good indicator is the color of your urine: It should be the color of pale straw. And pay attention to your thirst cues. Often when we become conscious that we’re thirsty, we’re already dehydrated.
2. Take five minutes to meditate
If you find the concept of meditation too intimidating, focus on achieving just five minutes of stillness. Yes, just five minutes of mindful meditation can make a difference in your physical and mental health. In the time it takes you to scroll through Facebook, you could take an important step towards lowering your blood pressure, your risk of depression, your anxiety, and much more.
You can find many apps and videos on the Internet, but here’s a short primer:
- Meditate in a quiet spot.
- Close your eyes.
- Inhale through your nose and into your lungs.
- Fade outside noises out.
- Set your focus internally.
- Begin breathing with your diaphragm.
- Focus on rhythmically breathing.
- Defocus your thoughts for internal tranquillity.
3. Focus on whole foods
The world is full of complicated diet plans, but this one step is key. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. (So instead of a piece of apple pie, have an apple.) Think about your average grocery store trip: You want to buy as much food from the outside edge of the store as possible. (That way, you buy more things like produce and lean healthy protein, instead of boxes of crackers.)
One thing that can make this step a bit easier is to buy local as often as possible. Check out the local farmer’s market or farm store, for example. You’ll be eating produce that hasn’t traveled from who-knows-where, so it will be fresher. Plus, you’re helping the environment!
What’s the first thing you do when your electronic device is experiencing problems? Unplug it. That’s also good advice for humans. When you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or just tired, consider putting your phone away for a while. You might be surprised by the results.
In fact, more and more research is pointing to the negative effects of screen time on our mental health, as well as our physical health. (“Tech neck” is just one example.) If you find device detox challenging, don’t hesitate to get help. This may be a bit ironic, but there are apps that can help you cut down on screen time.
5. Eat for gut health
Scientists are learning more about the importance of the gut-brain-axis connection. What does this mean? In simple terms, the bacteria in your gut can influence your moods – and vice versa.
When your gut microbiome is out of balance, you can experience many health problems, including that annoying “brain fog” feeling. You can also suffer from the effects of a weakened immune system.
Fortunately, the solution is simple. And delicious. Eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and natural yogurt like kefir will help restore the balance of bacteria in your gut. Eating foods high in fiber will help fuel that bacteria. Take a pharmacy grade probiotic daily with at least 20 billion CFU’s and a mix of strains of bacteria.
6. Rethink the sweet treats
The harmful effects of sugar extend far beyond what you may realize. Your skin, your heart, your moods, your teeth, your immune system are all hurt by this tasty poison.
However, what makes avoiding sugar particularly tricky is that it’s often hidden. You probably know to avoid donuts, but sugar can also be found in everyday items like salad dressing and spaghetti sauce. So when you’re trying to cut down on sugar, start by reading the labels on all processed foods.
It might feel like stretching at the end of the workout is a waste of time. After all, you’ve done the important stuff, like build strength and improve your cardio, right? However, stretching can improve your flexibility and mobility, reduce your risk of injury, and reduce stress levels. So take some at the end of your workouts, or when you first wake up, to stretch out your muscles.
8. Help others
Looking for a way to improve your physical health, boost your overall life satisfaction, and reduce your risk of depression? The solution may lie outside of yourself. In other words, if you place more attention on helping others, you could be the one who benefits.
9. Take a walk outside
Just a short walk every day can improve your:
- Muscle tone
- Risk of heart trouble
- Vitamin D levels
- Blood sugar
Just 30 minutes a day is enough to reap the benefits.
10. Get Your Hormone Levels Tested
Your hormones play a major part in your health and well being every day. One of the most misunderstood glands in the human body is the thyroid gland and thyroid problems are often overlooked and go undiagnosed. Many times patients complain about feeling exhausted, can’t lose weight, have dry skin and are losing hair and we offer specialized testing to help identify the causes. We also test female and adrenal hormone levels and use bioidentical hormones to treat imbalances. One of the very best things you can do for your health today and in the future is to have optimal hormone balance.
Are you ready to have a great year? We are definitely ready to help you take charge of your health for a fantastic, healthy 2020!
Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP, is a woman’s hormone expert and the owner of Wise Woman Wellness LLC, an innovative wellness and hormone care center at 1480 Swan Road, De Pere. Mann is the author of the eBook: A Guide to Gluten and Going Gluten Free. She is a board certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner, one of a handful in Wisconsin and less than 1600 worldwide to achieve this distinction. She combines the best of conventional, functional and integrative medicine to help women with female, thyroid and adrenal hormone issues to live healthier, more abundant, joy-filled lives using a blend of compassion, cutting edge science, practical guidance and humor. Contact her at 920-339-5252 or via the Internet at www.wisewomanwellness.com. Attend the introductory seminar, “End Hormone Havoc – Crazy Hormones Cause Fatigue, Weight Gain and Brain Fog and How to Fix Them!”, offered monthly, to learn about specialized thyroid, adrenal and female hormone testing and customized, bioidentical hormone treatments to achieve lifelong optimal hormone balance, increased vitality and longevity.
Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP