This past year, we had the pleasure of having a couple high school students work with our team. This is the first of several blog posts by our student writers.
For years you’ve only ever heard of the next new, magic bullet for weight loss and now you’ve found yourself stuck in the cycle of unsuccessful fad diets. You may ask yourself what a balanced lifestyle is, and the answer is; whatever you make it out to be. A balanced lifestyle is the idea that you’ve created a healthy mixture of the different domains of your life; nutrition, physical activity, mental health and social relationships. Although it is called a ‘balanced’ lifestyle this doesn’t mean these four domains are balanced equally, it is personalized towards you and your goals.
Nutrition includes the foods you eat, when you eat and how much you eat. You dictate your decisions and tailor them to what allows you to not only perform at your best but feel your best. It is important to note that you should listen to what your body wants, the balance between healthy and other foods is key in this process. No foods are good, nor bad, some foods are just recommended to have on a more frequent basis but this does not mean you should cut out a whole food group.
Physical activity incorporates how often and how long you are active, what activities you do and the type of intensity you chose to work at. Physical activity is proven to increase the strength of muscles and bones rapidly, extend your life expectancy, brighten your mood, improve your cardiovascular health, and many more worthwhile benefits! Whilst there are many different types of physical activity the best ones are the ones that you enjoy because you will continue to do them.
Your mental health is an important area of a balanced lifestyle. Often viewed negatively, mental health is actually a state of wellness when the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community (WHO reference). This area should be prioritized because everyone deals with some form of stress, whether that be anxiety, depression or any other example. You can help manage these issues with practices like mindfulness, listening to music, journaling, regular reflection or other stress relieving activities. These practices allow you to become more aware of the present situation and evaluate it calmingly and thoroughly. By participating in these actions you can reduce the harm caused by chronic elevated stress, experience better sleep, improved concentration and an overall enhanced health.
Your social relationships are a crucial part of your health because they help you manage the daily stresses that you may be dealing with and can present different ideas or perceptions on particular situations. Social relationships not only include your family and friends, but co-workers, neighbours and other people you see often. How often you see these people and how you engage is important. Particularly during this time of social distancing, we need to work hard to stay connected.
Although the goal of a balanced lifestyle may seem difficult, you must remember that it is a process and understand that this process takes time. It is a journey that you should enjoy along the way not just when you have reached the end goal. You must be open to trying new things, being outside your comfort zone and facing bumps across the road. It is important to note that your journey will be like no other, as well as your outcome.
Many benefits come from balance, but most importantly your stress levels will decline. You will find yourself more capable of the task at hand, you will feel less lonely than ever and you will begin to find happiness in new places. It may seem to be a long, challenging process but it starts with a couple small steps and it is guaranteed to be the change you have been looking for.
Written by Sela Scott, Edited by Amanda Radil and Doug Klein, Photo from Shutterstock