Three keys to a happier, healthier you

A healthier youBY JENN B.

The American Public Health Association is once again holding National Public Health Week, April 7 – 13, 2014. This annual initiative is devoted to educating the public on all topics related to public health, which encompasses pretty much everything and anything.

The daily themes of the week all deal with living a healthier life by making improvements at home and within your immediate surroundings. The end goal is to create a positive, nurturing environment in order to increase the overall well-being and quality of life on a global scale.

As someone who is in the field of public health, I have been reading about the different themes, events and related news about this initiative. Coincidentally, I am celebrating a birthday soon and because of this monumental event, I have been reflecting on how to live a more fuller and healthier life, both physically and emotionally.

As women, there is a lot of pressure and, to be frank, pure noise about improving our physical well-being. Since most of this noise is superficial in nature and focuses on the external me, there is much less emphasis on how to improve our mental health well-being. No matter your age or life situation, taking the time to think introspectively and work on improving our inner selves as a means of improving our overall well-being is worth the time.

So in thinking about the themes of National Public Health Week and getting older, I’ve put together a list of things I currently do, things I wish I did and advice given to me about how to be a better you (or as I like to think, a better community together).

This may sound simple, but as someone who lives in a metropolitan city, I constantly notice how everyone is looking down or on their phone when walking around. I understand the need to address urgent matters when appropriate, but the next time you’re out on your way to work or running errands, take in your surroundings. Whether in a car or walking on a street, take the time to be present.

I know everyone says this, but it really is important to take the time to do something fun. It doesn’t have to be a huge planned event, but just something you enjoy. Maybe an activity you used to enjoy, but gave up long ago. Or something you want to learn how to accomplish, like taking a class. Scheduling this is very important, in my mind, because it can be very easy to become too busy to take time for yourself. For me, I spend at least an hour on Saturdays in the morning for myself. Usually I read or paint, but as the weather gets nicer, I like to go for a short walk or spend some time outdoors.

I am one that firmly believes in creating a physical space, whether that’s at home or somewhere else, that you can completely unwind and take the time to decompress. In this digital age, we all encounter a lot of stimulation. It’s important to take a break, step back and center yourself. For some, this means creating a meditation space. Personally, I have a reading nook (or nest as my partner affectionately calls it) where I have a comfy spot that is free of external stimulation. Sometimes I read, and other times I write, but this spot is just a chair with some favorite pillows and a throw. For me, it’s more of a mental space that when I sit there I know it’s time to clear my mind and relax.

Improving our overall health includes nurturing our soul as well as our physical bodies. These are a few of the things I have found work for me. My hope is that this will get you started thinking about how you can improve your own health. Take charge of your life. Make those changes you know you need to make. Happy National Public Health Week!

Jenn B. holds a Master in Public Health with a focus on women’s health as well as a Bachelor’s degree in psychology.

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