Ana Gouge, Assistant Extension Agent FCS
There are many aspects of a completely balanced life whether it involves our eating habits, relationships, or mental health. Expectations and pressures are increasing in our western culture, and we take so few breaks when compared to other countries. So how can we balance ourselves in the most important areas?
Focus on healthy foods. Proper nutrition can impact everything from how your body functions to how your brain functions. Aim to eat a balanced diet for every meal by filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits, eating plenty of lean protein, and avoiding processed sugars. Eating a balanced diet does not necessarily mean that you are trying to lose weight. Even if you are a healthy weight, you may still benefit from refining your daily diet. Start by adding just one serving of fresh produce a day to get started. You'll be surprised how small changes can impact your health.
Set a goal to exercise 150 minutes per week. Exercise can seem like an inconvenience when our lives become hectic. Exercise is usually the first activity we stop when we are crunched for time; however, research shows that exercise can help provide sharper memory and thinking. Exercise releases endorphins which make you feel better, and helps you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline. Exercise doesn't have to be hard to be effective. Start out by taking a brisk walk, dancing around your house, or doing anything you enjoy that gets your heart pumping. There are even apps made for people who are complete beginners.
Are you getting enough sleep? Sleep offers the body and brain time to restore and recover, affecting nearly every tissue in the body. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, yet almost one third of adults are not getting the recommended sleep and feel sleepy during the day at least half of the week or more. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Prolonged sleep deprivation can also affect concentration and other cognitive functions. Cell phone use is a major hinderance to effective sleep routines, mostly due to the emission of blue light. Turn phones on "do not disturb" and place them away from your direct reach. Experts recommend you stop scrolling 60 to 90 minutes before going to bed.
Information sourced from The National Sleep Institute, The University of Michigan Health, and HelpGuide.org Exercise and Fitness.
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