Last week I gave you 3 “Don’t Do That, Do This,” tweaks.
- Don’t Go on a Diet, Do Eat More Whole Foods
- Don’t Do Exercise You Hate, Do Physical Activities You Enjoy
- Don’t Set Unreasonable Goals, Do One Thing Better This Week
But being intentional about your health goes well beyond exercising and good nutrition.
This week’s tweaks look at 3 other areas.
1) Don’t Ignore Stress, Do Activities That Help You To Relax
Our bodies do a pretty good job – most of the time – of handling stress.
However, when it is ongoing, it does take a toll on your health – even if you don’t see it.
Something as simple as sitting in traffic, worrying about finances, or writing an article (LOL), can trigger your body’s stress hormones to be released.
And when the stress response becomes chronic it can trigger more serious health issues such as these:
- Increased chance of depression
- Rapid breathing
- Weakened immune system
- Risk of heart attack
- High blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Pounding heart
- Fertility problems
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sex drive
- Missed periods
- Tense muscles
For more details on how this happens, check out this great article from HealthLine.
Stress IS a normal part of life, and our bodies were created to handle it. However, we are NOT designed to live in that space continuously.
Chronic stress should never be ignored.
Engage regularly in activities that help you to “check out” of your stress-inducing thoughts. Things like:
- Taking a nap
- Going for a walk
- Reading a book
- Sharing a cup of tea with a good friend
- Spending time with a pet
In addition to being intentional about how you respond to stress, it is crucial to limit the stress you bring on yourself.
Take an honest look at how you can change these areas. Ask yourself:
- Am I getting proper sleep – quality and quantity?
- Do I live within my means?
- Am I pursuing unrealistic perfection?
- Am I able to say, “No” when necessary?
- Do I make healthy food choices?
- Am I physically active every day?
- Do I worry needlessly?
As always, choose one area to focus on until you can make some progress.
2) Don’t Be a Victim to Triggers, Do Come Up With Alternatives
A trigger is a person, place, or thing that leads you to do something you don’t want to do.
It is usually a pattern of responding that you notice in yourself.
For me, an overwhelming day may trigger a desire to have some wine. And drinking wine then causes me to want to over-snack on salty treats. It’s a double whammy.
In the end, the alcohol does not help with my feelings of being overwhelmed. And the extra late-night calories sabotage my good choices of the day.
Obviously, I cannot stop feeling beaten down by the day. But I CAN find an alternative reaction.
Since my natural response has become a bad habit, it will take time to change.
When it is possible, make it easy on yourself by removing the triggers from your life. For example:
- If certain foods or drinks trigger unhealthy behavior, then don’t keep them in your home (my hubs needs to stop buying wine)
- If overspending is a problem, then keep catalogs, ads, etc. out of view
- If your phone is a significant distraction from real-life, then turn notifications off
- If turning the TV on causes you to lose track of time and become a couch potato, then unplug it
Be creative with how to deal with your triggers. And don’t give up on replacing them with better choices.
3) Don’t Allow Bitterness to Fester, Do Forgive and Resolve Issues
I have felt the weight of hanging onto anger towards someone. It’s a miserable place.
Have you been there?
It might look like this:
- You replay the conversation over and over in your head, making you angrier each time
- At the mention of their name you can almost feel your blood pressure rise
- You tell yourself that what they did is unforgivable
- Avoiding them at all costs is something you expend energy on, regularly
- A feeling of helplessness settles over you when you think about “fixing it”
It’s a hefty burden to carry – and it just feels yucky.
Unfortunately, too many of us are not purposeful when it comes to getting rid of bitterness.
And you guessed it – your health is impacted.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, long-held resentment and unresolved conflict can contribute to severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)
Forgiveness, on the other hand, is equally powerful and allows us to reap great health rewards.
If you find yourself in this space take a breath and try any of these:
- Pray for a forgiving heart
- Empathize with the person – remember that unless you are walking in their shoes, you cannot completely understand
- Let it go – your anger hurts you way more than them
- Remember why you liked or loved the person at one time
- Write a letter to them – even if you never intend to send it
- Choose to have compassion – whether they deserve it or not
I hope that you found a tweak you needed to hear today.
Always remember that living a healthy life is a purposeful endeavor.
Please feel free to shoot me a question if you have any. I encourage you to forward this on to a friend or family member that could use the helpful tips.