Health and wellness is a broad topic with lots of applications to our lives. If you’re like me, you might have noticed a pattern: Every Jan. 1 or thereabouts, you are filled with a searing determination to clean up your act — sometimes literally, as is the case with us clutterbugs. Or it might be a vow to lose weight, run a 5K or save an extra $1,000. All that might sound like scattered thinking, but as I said, health and wellness is one broad topic.
Its very scope is a double-edged sword, making it easy to feel overwhelmed when we inventory all the things about ourselves we think need overhauling or tweaking. It also means that there’s always something fresh to learn and more ways to apply what we know.
I read and write a lot about these kinds of things during a month, and one truth keeps coming back: We don’t have to do it all at once! Small improvements are better than big improvements we backslide on, so pick a few changes, start making them and — once you’ve integrated those changes into your life — go for more.
Start by sitting down and deciding on a plan of action. What areas do you want to improve, and what are some manageable steps you can take in the right direction?
Say you want to lose weight, something I’m focused on too. Just swapping out a dinner plate for a salad plate can make a huge dent in how much we eat. Filling half those plates with fruits and vegetables is likely to reduce fat, salt and sugar intake, as well as diminish sugar cravings. Even committing to a 30-minute walk most days of the week goes a long way toward improving physical and mental health, while upping walks to 45 minutes can really help boost the weight loss.
You might find that subscribing to newsletters or magazines covering the areas you’re focused on can be helpful, especially if the content is positive and backed with colorful, high-quality photos. I like WebMD for this; it offers a healthy balance of information on mental health as well as physical, and the articles tend to encourage wherever you’re at in your goals.
What if it’s your financial wellness you’re concerned about? I tended to avoid financial planners as if they were timebombs with calculators until my brother nagged me into seeing one. I had been afraid of what I’d find and thought I might not ever be able to afford to retire.
Once I scrounged up the courage, I learned that I was much better off than I gave myself credit for. Not only that, but my financial planner had highly doable suggestions for eliminating the future stresses I previously assumed that I’d be stuck with. Forcing myself to go to just one meeting with that financial planner made all the difference; since then, I’ve met with her twice more.
The simple act of reading up on topics that used to mystify me such as 401(k) and Roth IRAs made them easier to understand — well, eventually. The biggest surprise from my journey so far? I enjoy learning about these things that used to seem so intimidating.
So, there you have it: my everything-that-fits approach to health and wellness. If you’ll excuse me now, it’s time for my 10-minute walk.