Wellness is an active process that allows people to make positive choices in creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It includes a positive approach to life and health that helps to maximize the individual's potential.
A personal wellness lifestyle is associated with good physical health, emotional and spiritual stability, improved personal relationships and increased satisfaction and joy.
Three components of self care
Self care is a necessary part of maintaining emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
It's more than an occasional manicure or special treat. Self care is a way of living each day incorporating behaviors that help you feel refreshed, replenish your motivation and help you grow as a person. Building reliable self care habits can affect your quality of life now and in the future.
An excellent way to start is to take an honest look at what you're doing to manage everyday stress.
Are your close relationships and daily activities adding to your sense of overall stress? If so, take small, realistic steps toward change to help make a significant difference in your quality of life.
- Be accepting, kind and compassionate of yourself. How would you treat a good friend who needed some T.L.C.?
- Being kind to yourself doesn't mean the end of motivation or working hard, and the point is to stretch, not break yourself.
- Fill your life with people you can laugh with, have a serious conversation and who respect you.
- Do various things for fun and stimulation with others and while alone. Remember activities that you liked when you were a child but have long ago given up. Get the creative juices flowing by painting or drawing or get out the hammer and create something.
- Move your body, whether in a structured sport or exercise or dancing, stretching or walking in the park.
- Give your body something good to eat that doesn't come in a bag or box from a fast-food restaurant.
- Make a sleep routine where you go to bed and wake up on the same days.
- Take quiet time for yourself and make it a priority to do something just for you.
- Get a massage or take a hot shower/bath.
- Pay attention to your body's signals of pain or sickness and go to the doctor as needed.
- Develop practices that exercise your mind and soul.
- Find/create spaces that nurture your spirit, whether attending services with like-minded friends or having a personal routine of prayer or meditation.
- Engage in self-exploration that helps you identify your values and priorities.
- Read literature and have discussions with others that deepen your knowledge of yourself and the universe.
- Find ways to contribute to the well-being of others.
Myths about self-care
"I'm being selfish if I focus on self-care." Some may consider self-care to mean self-involved. Nurturing oneself is a critical factor in keeping up the strength, resolve, motivation and inner resources so you may continue to give to others.
"I don't have time to take care of myself." If you do a self care audit, you'll likely find some of the activities you spend your time on now could be better spent recharging your battery. Time management/life goal experts stress the importance of putting self-care into a schedule just like a class or job.
"T.V. and pizza are my self care." That may be just the ticket for some nights, but do you have enough nurturing choices for the other nights of the week?
While not discounting the value of building up your knowledge of 1950s television trivia, the consequences of making it a nightly habit might include indigestion, sleep loss, weight gain, oversleeping in the morning, a feeling of grogginess and little energy lingering the next day.
Perhaps instead, you could use the comfort of a cozy chat with a particular person or some quiet time with your mind engaged, not just checked out.
"Do I have to do it alone?" Having an accountability partner can be a great motivator. However, the best balance is achieved with a combination of time shared with others and some time alone. Remember that your attitude of looking for opportunities to practice self care can go with you anywhere.
Still skeptical? Set up a 30-day self care routine and see how you feel before and after.
Exercise increases physical strength, stamina and weight loss and there are many other reasons to make it a part of your routine.
Advantages of exercising
Physical activity is a helpful stress management strategy. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reminds us that we can't avoid stress in our lives altogether. Still, we can proactively reduce its effects through activities like walking, running and yoga.
Want to improve your memory? A study from the University of Texas at Dallas recently found that physical activity, such as using a stationary bike or treadmill, positively affects memory loss and improves other cognitive functions and general brain health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the benefits of exercise is improved mood, which happens when your brain releases chemicals, such as endorphins, that affect your overall feeling of well-being. Training can leave you happier and more confident.
The National Sleep Foundation research shows that physical activity can help you sleep better at night and be more alert during the day.
WebMD.com recommends exercise as one of the primary ways to improve your metabolism and burn more calories if weight loss is your goal.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.) provides physical activity guidelines for Americans designed to improve overall health.
Adults will realize most of the possible benefits of being active if they exercise at least 150 minutes each week or 30 minutes a day. This should be a moderately intense aerobic activity, such as running, brisk walking, bicycling, playing basketball, dancing and swimming. H.H.S. notes that additional benefits can be gained from 300 minutes of activity.
Ideas to help you get started
- Check out the MCC fitness centers. Head to the gym between classes or when you get up in the morning to squeeze in a workout.
- Take advantage of fitness courses. Along with gym facilities, most students will have access to fitness classes.
- Stretch first. Avoid injuries by stretching each time you exercise. Simple stretches before and after you work out or engage in physical activity can help keep you active and pain free.
- Ride your bike. Instead of taking the bus or driving to class, try biking instead.
- Play a sport. One way to get yourself motivated to exercise is to make it a game by playing a sport.
- Walk to class. While taking public transportation might be quicker, walking will give you a chance to stretch your legs, burn some calories and relax before your next class.
- Incorporate different kinds of exercise into your routine. Don't just stick to one type of workout when you work out. Incorporate strength training, cardio and stretching exercises into your routine to make it well rounded.
- Make it fun. You're probably not going to work out if you are bored with your routine or find going to the gym torture. Find a way to make it fun for yourself and you'll be more likely to keep it up.
- Bring a friend. With someone else relying on you showing up, you'll be much more likely to make an effort to work out. Plus, working out with a friend can be a great way to make working out more fun.
- Choose healthy options at our on-campus dining options.
- Bring fresh fruits and vegetables to snack on between classes.
If a gym is not for you
Good nutrition means getting the right amount of nutrients from healthy foods in the right combinations. Having nutrition knowledge and making smart choices about the foods you eat can help you achieve optimum health over your lifetime.
Check out these ideas
Below is a formula that may help you estimate your body weight range. However, you should also consider your bone frame size, muscle and genetics. Many people fall below or above these ranges.
Women: 100 lbs. for the first five feet plus 5 lbs. per inch for each additional inch over 5 feet. Then add and subtract 10% to get your body weight range.
Men: 106lbs. for the first five feet plus 6 lbs. per inch for each additional inch over 5 feet. Then add and subtract 10% to get your body weight range.
There are many types of vegetarian diets: Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian and vegan. All three exclude meat, poultry and fish; however, they may incorporate some dairy and eggs. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products; meanwhile, lacto-vegetarians and ovo-vegetarians exclude eggs and dairy products, respectively. Vegans exclude both eggs and dairy products. All forms of vegetarian diets can be nutritionally sound if a wide variety of foods are included and proper attention is given to protein and other nutrients. However, if you are a vegetarian, you have to pay a little more attention to your diet to get all the necessary nutrients for optimum health. The low nutrients in a vegetarian diet are Vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, and iron.
The daily intake of dietary fiber should be around 25-30g or 1g per every 100 calories. However, most people eat approximately 15 grams of fiber per day. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. They are essential in maintaining regularity and reducing the risk of heart disease. Good food sources of fiber are oats, beans, fruit and vegetables. If you increase your fiber, you will need to increase your water consumption.
Ideally, your nutrients should come from the food that you eat. However, if you eat less than 1500 calories per day or avoid certain food groups, a supplement may be warranted.
The best supplement to take is a multivitamin with 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (R.D.A.). Taking supplements above the R.D.A. can be dangerous since some vitamins can become toxic at certain levels and reduce the absorption of other nutrients.
First, consider what may have contributed to your weight gain. A new schedule, eating out more often, a decrease in exercise or emotional factors may all play a role in your weight. It will be helpful to be aware of these factors. Second, be prepared that weight loss is not easy. For many people losing weight can be a difficult task, however worth the work as a healthier weight can be beneficial in many ways.
Begin by looking at your food choices. Are they balanced? Do you get too much of one group and not enough of others? How about your fat and sweet intake? Although these are fine to include in your diet, you may be having them too often. Make 1-2 changes in your diet per couple of weeks so that your changes are gradual and don't feel too restricted. Also, don't forget to look at your beverage intake; many people consume hundreds of empty calories without knowing it. Lastly, remember it should be a lifestyle change, NOT a DIET, as temporary changes often lead to gaining the weight back plus some. Below are some helpful hints:
- include at least 20-30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week
- keep a food diary to log what you eat in a day; this will provide you with the information you need to help make changes
- be aware of why you eat and how full you are when you leave the table
- watch out for extras like dressings, sauces, condiments
- keep an eye on beverages like sodas, juices and alcohol
- don't skip meals - this usually leads to eating more later in the day and may affect your metabolism
- have healthy lower-calorie snacks available for between classes
- 1-2 lbs. per week of weight loss is the maximum you should shoot for; otherwise, you may lose too much muscle
And don't forget each person is individual and your weight loss will be personal to you.
Sleep benefits and tips
Don't underestimate the negative impact of sleep problems on your schooling, work, relationships and general well-being. Poor sleep patterns can sabotage academic performance. Not sleeping for more than 24 hours affects performance as much as a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.
There's also evidence that an inadequate amount of sleep can:
- Increase moodiness
- Decrease ability to concentrate
- Decrease retention of new information
- Reduce your ability to manage stress
- Lessen your body's ability to fight off illness
Some people only need 6 or 7 hours, but others require up to 9 hours to feel wide awake and function at their peak level. Moreover, it isn't simply how many hours of sleep you're getting that matters, but how good you feel and how well you're able to perform each day. Quality of sleep can be as important as quantity.
One of the best ways to improve your sleep is to replace a poor sleep routine with one that promotes sleep. To get a good night's sleep, you need to:
- Strengthen your mind's association with the bed or bedroom as only a place for rest,
- Weaken the mind's association with the bed or bedroom as a place for stimulating activities that might interfere with sleep (like studying, watching T.V., eating, etc.)
- Develop a consistent sleep schedule.
The two essential ingredients for sleep are being tired and relaxed. Most research shows that when individuals are tired, they fall asleep within five minutes or less. Falling asleep is something you allow yourself to do, not make yourself do. When you focus on "trying" to go to sleep, this could increase stress, thereby making you less relaxed. Tell yourself that you are waiting for rest to come, and allow yourself to relax in the meantime.
If you are committed to following these instructions, you should experience sleep improvement. Remember, it will take time for changes to happen, so be patient and don't give up!
- Wind down for the night at least 30 to 60 minutes before bed.
- Eliminate caffeine and tobacco use late in the day (after 2:00 pm).
- Limit or avoid alcohol before bedtime. While alcohol consumption may initially help some people fall asleep, it interferes with a restful night's sleep by interrupting the sleep cycle.
- Exercising late in the afternoon or early evening can help. Still, you should avoid any significant exercise within 2 hours of going to bed.
- Relax before bed. Light stretching, a warm shower or bath, or any other activity that you find relaxing may be helpful.
- Have a light carbohydrate or dairy snack before bedtime, but avoid chocolate or sugar. A milk bottle puts a baby to sleep; the same principle can work for adults.
- Avoid drinking large amounts of fluid late in the day. A full bladder can interfere with sleep.
- Do not have a visible bedroom clock. "Clock watching" often intensifies insomnia. Turn the clock face away from you or put it in a drawer.
- Try to go to bed and wake up simultaneously each day.
- On nights that you are staying up late, try to go to bed within a few hours of when you would generally go to sleep. The more off-schedule you get, the harder it is to get back on schedule and stay rested and alert during the day.
- If you experience many distressing thoughts when you are trying to fall asleep, try scheduling a "thinking time" during the daytime. Pick 20 minutes to focus on the types of thoughts that come to you when you are trying to fall asleep. When these thoughts come to mind as you are trying to fall asleep, dismiss them and remind yourself that you will deal with them during the next day's "thinking time." If this doesn't work, keep a pad of paper by your bed so you can "download" your thoughts to reconsider the next day. After a good night's rest, you will better think and resolve those concerns.
- If you are dealing with a severe crisis or under extreme pressure a physician can provide some non-addicting sleep medications for short periods. Consider a consultation with a physician. Sleep difficulties can also be caused by other physical or mental health concerns such as depression. If you are having difficulty managing sleep patterns, you may want to consider discussing your concerns with a counselor by calling 816.604.1000 to set an appointment.
Headaches are one of the most universal ailments. Headaches are a common concern among college students. Psychological stress from tests, deadlines and schoolwork contributes to many types of headaches. Vulnerability to headaches varies from person to person depending on genetics and a person's ability to cope with the many and varied life stressors, demands and commitments.
Headache types and what you can do
The pain of a muscle contraction headache is caused by the pulling of muscles in the neck and base of the head. The sustained contraction of skeletal muscles is usually part of a person's reaction to life stress. These are also called tension headaches and are characterized by a dull, throbbing pain felt on both sides of the head surrounding the scalp and occasionally affecting the shoulders and the neck.
Chronic muscle contraction headaches require a medical examination of the head, neck and neurological systems to determine the etiology of the pain. For milder tension headaches, the appliance of warm, moist compresses and a gentle massage to the muscles involved provide some relief. Relaxation training and biofeedback treatment can provide relief. It is often hard when you have a headache to relax on your own.
The pain of a migraine headache has recently been due to the biological abnormality of nerve cells and chemical messengers in the brain. During migraine attacks, biochemical changes occur in the brain, such as the depletion of the nerve-cell messenger serotonin. When prescribed medication stimulates serotonin action, relief from headache pain is often found at last. Migraine headache sufferers may find themselves depressed. They may also find that their sleep is fitful, and they may know family members who suffer as they do. Migraines are characteristically different from muscle contraction headaches because they can cause partial or complete vision loss.
People susceptible to migraines may find that weather changes, stress, bright lights, hormones and possibly food trigger migraine attacks. A spectrum of sensations or aura will occasionally precede some migraine attacks. Pain is often experienced on one side of the head and can be accompanied by vertigo, nausea and vomiting.
Relief is available for chronic headache sufferers. When performed under a physician's care, medication and acupuncture have helped many sufferers. Coupled with biofeedback and medicine, acupuncture can provide even more relief.
Headaches can also be caused by disease of the head, eyes, ears, teeth or high blood pressure. The pain from headaches having an organic base is generally different from the usual headaches.
You can help diagnose your type of headache by describing the headache and keeping track of each headache's occurrence.
Talking about the life stressors that may be an underlying cause of your headache helps relieve some types of headache pain. Relaxation training is also helpful and available.
- Brooklyn College
- The University of Texas at Austin - Sleeping Better
- Guard Your Health
- Pepperdine College - Self-Help Tools: Nutrition
- 101 Health and Wellness Tips for College Students
- Center for Online Education - Student Health and Wellness Guide
- 7 Tips to Get Fit Without Going to the Gym
- University of Texas at Dallas
- Iona College