Caring for your physical and mental health

We are living increasingly fractious and frenetic lifestyles, locked in a battle of wits with our heads, hearts and workloads. We know that we’ll have to slow down at some point, and yet the pressures placed upon us by society mean that we’re no longer content to sit back and watch the world go by. We’re involved in everything, concerned by everything, and intent on pleasing all of those around us before we chase our own dreams. You’re no doubt desperate to escape the never-ending cycle of work, stress and play. There’s got to be more to life than this, surely? The good news is that change is just around the corner. The bad news is that we’re all going to have to take a little responsibility if we’re to embrace this thing called life as wholeheartedly as we’d all like to.

It’s time to slow down…

You can’t continue at this pace. Indeed, you’ve no doubt realised that it’s not enough to merely think about altering certain aspects of your lifestyle; things have got to change, and they’ve got to change now. Your health, happiness and mental wellbeing are going to rely upon your ability to identify issues and implement changes in the here and now. We are working harder, and attempting to play harder, than ever before. With little time for our minds, bodies and souls to rest and heal, we’ll soon burn out. What can we do about it?

Exercise

Exercise is imperative if we’re to remain in peak physical condition as we age. In fact, ageing is no excuse to slow down in that respect! Perhaps you’ve been thinking about joining a gym recently. You may already be a member. However, have you actually been, and do you enjoy going? We are all guilty of allowing our good intentions to fall by the wayside at some time or another – particularly if we’ve come to see exercise as a chore. You mustn’t allow your health to fall victim to such notions. Consider the activities that you enjoy and the exercises that would complement your busy lifestyle. Swimming, strolling, cycling and dog walking are all relatively easy to achieve around other commitments, while team sports and fitness companions tend to ensure that we stick to our new, healthier outlook. You may also wish to try downloading an app, or wearing a pedometer. It’s time to set yourself a few new goals.

Diet

We’re happy to live by the motto, “A little bit of what you fancy.” It’s certainly true that life is too short to deny yourself a slice of cake every now and again! However, the key to a healthy diet is balance, and allowing yourself to enjoy all things in moderation. Do you enjoy sourcing ingredients, preparing and cooking meals? There’s no feeling quite like the satisfaction that accompanies a home-cooked meal. Cooking for yourself is a great way to take an interest in the foods that you eat, and to fall in love with a healthy and more nutritious diet. Consider the portions that you consume, and cut back if necessary. You may also want to think about substituting unhealthy snacks for things such as fruit and vegetables. Do allow yourself small treats every now and again, though.

Mental wellbeing

These days, it’s not enough to eat healthily and monitor your levels of activity; it’s imperative that we’re also taking care of our mental health. We spend so much of our lives “on-call”, making ourselves available to friends, family and work colleagues via phone, email and in person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When do you make time for you? Stress is a major factor in ill health. It is estimated that some 12 million adults will suffer the effects of stress at one time or another, with more than 13 million working days being lost to stress. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to become statistics. As we age, we must make time for our minds and souls as well as our bodies. What activities do you really enjoy? Make time for those pastimes, and be sure to switch off at a reasonable hour each evening. By all means think of others, but don’t risk your own health and mental wellbeing in the process.

Embrace a happier, healthy lifestyle

Ask yourself this: what makes you happy? Even if you’re lucky enough to love what you do, there’s a chance that you’ve begun to feel the physical and mental effects of working so hard to achieve the right results. Now is the time to take a step back, and to put your health and mental wellbeing firmly into the fore. Remember that nothing in this life is so important that it cannot wait for you to catch up. We only have one shot at this thing called life, and achieving balance is the only way that we’re likely to emerge (relatively) unscathed. Try not to be daunted. You don’t need to slow to a stop or make huge changes in order to notice a difference. Sometimes life is all about the little things, which we hope you’ll now take a moment to understand and appreciate. Your health is worth so, so much.