Start thinking about the big picture. Changing poor lifestyle habits is rarely easy, especially if they comfort you, as smoking or overeating do for many people. You need a strong vision of what you want to achieve in order to succeed. The benefits are increasing with every new study. Making lists of your hot spots and your sweet spots will help you to set your personal priorities. The hot spots are weaknesses, the sweet spots strengths that crop up during an ordinary day.
Identify with clear sights your biggest challenges, such as getting to bed on time, reducing food portions, resisting sweets, choosing the couch over the treadmill, and so on. Doing this will help your mission take shape and direction. List the things that give you joy and satisfaction, for instance, spending time with your family or enjoying a favorite hobby. Recapture in your mind what it feels like to resist ordering dessert or to spend half an hour walking outdoors.
Appreciating the sweet spots in your life is a source of strength as you embark on your habit-changing mission. To change your negative habits, you have to know what they are. Some bad habits, like smoking and excessive drinking, are obvious, but others may be less so. Sitting all day is damaging to your health, even if you get half an hour of exercise or more before or after work.
Forming a new habit takes repetition and focus, and if your attention is elsewhere you may have a harder time adjusting to new behaviors. For this reason, some experts advise against planning big changes if you are going through a particularly stressful period. I think that reasoning is wrong. Visualizing your desired outcome is a useful tool in your journey.
In order to change the printout of the body, you must learn to rewrite the software of the mind. This truism is reinforced by brain scans that show a decrease in certain higher functions making good decisions, following reason over impulse, resisting temptation when a person falls into a pattern of giving in to a wide range of lower impulses, such as fear, anger, or simply physical hunger.
You need to implement a healing regimen that encourages and rewards your good choices if you want brain pathways to follow suit. Even though you are working on the big picture, for psychological reasons a series of small victories is desirable.
Choose Healthy Foods and Drinks
In essence, you are training your brain to succeed. This amount includes the salt in already prepared food, as well as the salt you add when cooking or eating your food. Processed foods, like those that are canned or packaged, often have more sodium than unprocessed foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. When you can, choose fresh or frozen fruits and veggies over processed foods. Try adding herbs and spices instead of salt to season your food if you make your own meals.
Remember to rinse canned vegetables with water to remove extra salt. If you use packaged foods, check the amount of sodium listed on the Nutrition Facts label. Figure 1 below shows an updated food label, which the U. Some foods, like fruit, are naturally sweet. Other foods, like ice cream and baked desserts, as well as some beverages, have added sugars to make them taste sweet.
How does the body use energy?
These sugars add calories but not vitamins or fiber. Try to consume less than 10 percent of your daily calories from added sugars in food and beverages. Reach for an apple or banana instead of a candy bar. Many people consume larger portions than they need, especially when away from home. Ready-to-eat meals—from a restaurant, grocery store, or at school—may give you larger portions than your body needs to stay charged up.
The Weight-control Information Network has tips to help you eat and drink a suitable amount of food and beverages for you, whether you are at home or somewhere else. Skipping meals might seem like an easy way to lose weight, but it actually may lead to weight gain if you eat more later to make up for it. Follow these tips to keep your body charged up all day and to stay healthy:.
Physical activity should be part of your daily life, whether you play sports, take physical education PE classes in school, do chores, or get around by biking or walking. Regular physical activity can help you manage your weight, have stronger muscles and bones, and be more flexible. Aerobic versus Lifestyle Activities You should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Most of the 60 minutes or more of activity a day should be either moderate or intense aerobic physical activity , and you should include intense physical activity at least 3 days a week.
Examples of aerobic physical activity, or activity that makes you breathe harder and speeds up your heart rate, include jogging, biking, and dancing. For a more moderate workout, try brisk walking, jogging, or biking on flat streets or paths.
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To pick up the intensity, turn your walk into a jog, or your jog into a run—or add hills to your walk, jog, or bike ride. You don't have to do your 60 minutes a day all at once to benefit from your activity. Routine activities, such as cleaning your room or taking out the trash, may not get your heart rate up the way biking or jogging does. But they are also good ways to keep active on a regular basis. Fitness apps that you can download onto your computer, smartphone, or other mobile device can help you keep track of how active you are each day.
Being active can be more fun with other people, like friends or family members. You may also find that you make friends when you get active by joining a sports team or dance club. Mix things up by choosing a different activity each day. Try kickball, flashlight tag, or other activities that get you moving, like walking around the mall.
Health Guides: Health is a State of Mind and Body
Involve your friends and challenge them to be healthy with you. Sign up for active events together, like charity walks, fun runs, or scavenger hunts. Maybe you or some of your friends spend a lot of time indoors watching TV, surfing the web, using social media, or playing video games. Try getting in some outdoor activity to burn calories instead.
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Here are other activities to try:. You can also find dance and other fitness and exercise videos online or on some TV channels.
Some routines are only 15 or 20 minutes so you can squeeze them in between homework, going out, or other activities. You also can choose active sports games if you have a gaming system. Like healthy eating and getting enough physical activity, getting enough sleep is important for staying healthy. You need enough sleep to do well in school, work and drive safely, and fight off infection. Not getting enough sleep may make you moody and irritable. While more research is needed, some studies have shown that not getting enough sleep may also contribute to weight gain.
Find out what you can do to make sure you get enough sleep. Changing your habits can be hard. And developing new habits takes time. You can do it! Being healthy sounds like it could be a lot of work, right? Sleep can affect your mood as well as your body and is important to your recovery. Not getting the right amount of sleep can make day-to-day functioning and recovery harder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiological Catchment Area study, "the risk of developing new major depression was much higher The relationship between getting enough rest and reducing the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses is strong.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they lose sleep because of stress. That's especially unfortunate because sleep combats some of the fallout of stress, and poor sleep has been linked to significant problems, including:. If you find yourself drinking or using drugs to cope, it is time to seek help. Although using drugs and alcohol may seem to help you cope, substance use can make your symptoms worse, delay your treatment and complicate recovery.
It can also cause abuse or addiction problems. Substance abuse affects an estimated 25 million Americans. When accounting for the people who are affected indirectly such as families of abusers and those injured or killed by intoxicated drivers, an additional 40 million people are affected. Treatment of substance abuse is geared towards abstinence and includes a variety of therapies.
Psychotherapy aids patients in understanding behavior and motivations and in developing self-esteem and coping with stress. In some cases medications may be used with some success. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. Smoking puts you at risk for problems like heart disease and cancer. It is a normal part of life. You can feel stress in your body when you have too much to do or when you haven't slept well. You can also feel stress when you worry about your job, money, relationships, or a friend or family member who is ill or in crisis.
Stress can make you feel run down.
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It can also cause your mind to race and make it hard to focus on the things you need to do. If you have a mental illness, lots of stress can make you feel worse and make it harder to function. There has been considerable research done that proves that stress exacerbates mental health conditions. Studies indicate that work and family stress are associated with mental health conditions and loss of productivity at work and in normal day-to-day functions.
One study conducted by an Australian researcher found work stress to be a significant risk factor for developing mental health conditions and decreased work productivity. To read the full study click here: Further research has been done on many specialized populations migrant workers, army personnel, dentists, teachers, et cetera demonstrating that stress leads to an increased likelihood of developing or worsening a mental health condition. Remember that stress can also lead to serious mental health problems, like depression and anxiety disorders.
Negative thinking can often drag you and others around you down. There are many different types of negative thinking and you may not even realize that you are doing it. It is an important part of living well to overcome and change the negative thinking. Some ways of overcoming the negative thinking include replacing the negative thought with a positive one, repeating positive statements, and seeking professional therapy from a cognitive-behavioral therapist. Common types of negative thinking are:. When you start thinking in always, never, everyone, nobody, et cetera, then you are thinking too much about the negatives and using those to over-generalize.
This is also called "all or nothing" thinking. An example of this would be: I always embarrass myself, nobody likes me. I am angry with you so you must be wrong and the source of my problems. I should always avoid talking about my personal issues with others. I should always wear black shoes after Labor Day. Often the labels are inaccurate or negative as you never know all the information.
She is promiscuous because she flirts a lot. He must be an alcoholic because he has had three glasses of beer to drink. This could be thinking that it is your fault that the train came late or that it is your fault that your teenager likes suggestive rap music. I am the reason that my insurance denied payment for medication. If you find yourself caught in the loop of negative thinking, sit down and identify three strengths or things you do well. For instance you could be a good listener, in good physical shape, good with animals, or remember names easily.
Get routine check-ups and visit your doctor when you're not feeling well. It may be due to your medicine or a symptom of your mental illness. But it could also be a different health problem. Of course you don't have to be in crisis to seek help. Why wait until you're really in pain? Even if you're not sure you'd benefit from help, it can't hurt to explore the possibility.
The links on this page may contain document data that requires additional software to open: Understanding Trauma Back to School: Recognizing Depression Back to School: Recognizing Anxiety Back to School: Recognizing Psychosis Back to School: Diet and Nutrition Fitness 4Mind4Body: How can I get help paying for my prescriptions?
What do I need to know about my insurance benefits? What can I do if my insurance company is refusing to approve? Having poor overall health can make recovery harder. Finding ways to take care of your health can aid your recovery and help you feel better. Sometimes, it is hard to tell whether not feeling well is due to a side-effect of your medicine, a symptom of your mental health disorder or a different health problem.