When you think about your body, do you think about the pounds you want to lose or wish that you could run a mile in less time? Maybe you only notice your physical condition when you have a cold or your lower back aches.
With so many responsibilities at home and work, it’s easy to overlook your most basic needs. However, it’s important to take care of your body if you want to be able to rely on it for the long run.
Consider these simple ways to be kind to your body even when you’re short on time.
Being Kind to Your Body at Home:
1. Cook more. Restaurant meals tend to have more calories, fat, and salt. Prepare your food at home, where you have more control over the ingredients.
2. Consume whole foods. Fill your plate with natural items like vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. It’s a simple way to increase your fiber intake and get all your essential nutrients from fewer calories.
3. Exercise regularly. Strengthen your heart and muscles by working out regularly. Find a variety of activities you enjoy so you’ll want to stick with your program.
4. Take a bath. Soaking in your tub can be therapeutic as well as indulgent. Add lavender to promote relaxation and soothe sore muscles. To soothe dry skin, try olive oil or oatmeal.
5. Sleep well. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Stick to a regular bedtime. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Avoid heavy snacks and bright computer screens in the hours before bed, so you can fall asleep faster.
6. Clean up. The air inside your home could be more polluted than the air outside. Keep dust mites, pet hair, and mold under control by using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and cleaning your air conditioner and dehumidifier regularly.
Being Kind to Your Body at Work:
1. Move more. Design your workstation so you can shift easily between sitting and standing. Take breaks about every half hour when you’re working. Use that time to take a quick walk around the halls or stretch your legs in your office.
2. Snack wisely. Skip the vending machines and the donut shop next door. Bring your own healthy snacks to work. Good choices include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, hummus, nuts, and baby carrots.
3. Relieve stress. Jobs are a major source of pressure for many adults. If you’re struggling with a demanding boss or complicated office politics, find relaxation practices to help you through your day. Meditate at lunchtime or listen to instrumental music while you make calls.
4. Leave on time. Long hours can add to job stress and interfere with your relationships. If you feel guilty about going home, remember that studies have shown that working more than 50 hours a week lowers productivity.
Being Kind to Your Body Anywhere:
1. Use sunscreen. Your body needs some sunshine for vitamin D, but overexposure causes premature aging and increases your risk for skin cancer. Slather on sunscreen year-round and limit your time outdoors.
2. Drink more water. Staying hydrated is a free and easy way to help keep your body in top condition from the inside out. Water is beneficial for your heart, muscles, skin and all the cells in your body.
3. Listen closely. Practice paying more attention to your body, so you can understand your own needs. Soon you’ll be able to distinguish between hunger and boredom, and you’ll be more likely to spot symptoms that you may want to discuss with your doctor.
There’s nothing selfish about treating your body with kindness. Attending to your own needs gives you more resources to share with others. Put yourself at the top of your agenda and develop daily habits that enhance your physical well-being.