by Natalie-Jean Schiavone, PhD
For some people, staying motivated can feel like a full-time job. Having your mental and emotional health challenged, as well as your entire well-being, may make you feel overwhelmed and frustrated. This can lead to neglecting yourself and your overall health. Let’s discuss some helpful ways to stay motivated throughout the year so you can prevent this from happening.
It’s all about balance. Setting small, achievable goals to help manage your mental and emotional health is a skill. However, being able to manage your emotional health can help keep your mental health in check, too. So, let’s start by creating small goals, one step at a time.
Depending on where you live and what time of year it is, you can take advantage of the great outdoors. Get some fresh air and sunlight by going for a hike, swim, bike ride or a walk on the beach. Being outside, especially in the sunlight (wear sunscreen as directed), can help boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical that plays a key role in mood regulation. So, take advantage of what Mother Nature provides by getting active and giving your mood a boost.
Not feeling adventurous enough to go outdoors? No problem! Try taking advantage of online classes or exercise groups in your area. Check your local listings, too. Many communities offer indoor classes at a discount or at no cost to you. Who knows? You may end up meeting a fitness buddy who can hold you accountable and help you stay on track toward your goals.
Either way, physical activity nurtures your mental, emotional and physical health. You will be glad you got moving once you start. Putting your sneakers on is often the hardest part, so start by setting a goal of exercising for just 15 minutes each day, and then add to that number. Before you know it, you will be creating healthy habits to last a lifetime.
Spending time with people whose company you enjoy is a great way to feel appreciated and valued. This can be people you work with, family, friends or neighbors. If possible, visit with them in person rather than online. It may be a better way to stay emotionally connected and to feel supported.
If you can, try to get together often. Making plans and meeting up regularly can help you stay motivated because you are achieving your goal of staying connected and accountable. Socializing with those who lift you up and make you feel happy is a key part of maintaining your mental and emotional health.
What do you like to do for fun? Do you have a hobby or favorite pastime you enjoy? If so, try to do more of those activities. Participating in activities you are fond of will keep you engaged and happy, which will also help you achieve your wellness goals and stay motivated to keep going.
If you’re not sure about something but are curious to try it, there’s no better time than the present. Picking up a new skill set will challenge you to keep moving forward and increase your concentration. Being able to face and conquer new challenges will grow your confidence and self-esteem.
Stress. There it is. Just sitting there, staring at you, waiting to ruin your day. However, managing your stress, while challenging, may help you put things into perspective. If you are aware of what triggers your stress, you can approach your trigger with a new point of view. Remind yourself that these events do not define you; rather, they challenge you. You are in control of how and when you can confront or avoid such stressful occasions.
Wellness is achieved one step at a time. If you are struggling with how to manage stressful situations, it may be helpful to find a friend, colleague or professional you can confide in. Perhaps talking things through will help lower your stress levels and bring you back down to earth. This allows you to take control and put your mental and emotional health first, all while achieving your goal of self-care. Your overall wellness should be your top priority, so don’t be afraid to make yourself number one.
Taking control and setting wellness-focused goals can be very rewarding, especially when you achieve them. Try growing your own food this year. If you have the land, plant a garden. Being outdoors, caring for your crops and eating the healthy foods you’ve grown are all great ways to stay mentally, physically and emotionally grounded. Tending to your garden will encourage you to eat healthy and care for your body.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of land to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of your labor. If you live in an apartment or have limited space, a window box or patio garden will do the trick. You can still plant some of your favorite fruits and vegetables and in a few months, reap what you have sown.
Either way, big or small, gardening is a great way to achieve your health goals, stay motivated to eat well, save money and eat clean, organic foods. Keep in mind that if you are going to be outside for an extended period of time tending to your garden, be prepared. Apply sunscreen, wear protective clothing and bring plenty of water. Staying hydrated is essential to staying healthy and safe as you work toward your wellness goals.
Let’s talk water. We just mentioned the importance of staying hydrated while you are tending to your garden, but did you know that drinking enough water also benefits your weight in more ways than one? Unfortunately, many people find it challenging to stay hydrated, which can discourage them from hitting their wellness goals and ultimately impact their health.
If drinking regular water isn’t your thing, try adding fresh slices of lemon, lime or cucumber. The extra boost of flavor may awaken your taste buds and encourage you to drink more. Another trick is to use a large, refillable water bottle that is easy to carry around with you. Fill it up in the morning and sip on it throughout the day. Before you know it, you’ll have reached your daily hydration goal!
Staying present and being mindful are essential for staying motivated and achieving your wellness goals. Focus on one thing at a time rather than getting carried away with multiple tasks at once. Slow down and don’t allow judgment to interfere with your task at hand so that you can keep a positive attitude and remain open to new experiences. This may bring you to a place of gratitude. Studies show that being grateful for what you have helps you be more optimistic about the future. This simple gesture results in a boost in mental health. So, go ahead, slow down, smell the roses and count your blessings. Taking the time to practice gratitude is good for your body, mind and soul.
You have it in you to find the motivation to keep going on your wellness journey. Remember why you started in the first place. Keep reminding yourself that you are a priority. Your mental, emotional and physical health should be your top goals. You have to commit to taking care of yourself. No one is going to do it for you, so you can’t quit on yourself. Take some of these ideas and incorporate them into your daily routine. Once you get moving, the motivation will follow, and you will turn your wellness goals into habits. Each day, remind yourself that you are worth it, you matter, and you can do this.
About the Author:
Natalie-Jean Schiavone, PhD, has more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry. After receiving her master’s degree in General Psychology, Dr. Schiavone went on to complete her doctoral degree in Health Psychology with a specialization in obesity. She conducted her research and completed her dissertation on female adolescents with obesity and their social experiences. Using her education, experience and expertise, Dr. Schiavone works with patients to create a healthier lifestyle where knowledge is a key factor.
Help the OAC to raise awareness, advocate for improved access, provide evidence-based education,
fight to eliminate weight bias and discrimination and elevate the conversation of weight and its impact on health.
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