It’s important to keep in mind that fitness isn’t just about physical appearance. Much more vital is developing lifelong habits and becoming healthy mentally and emotionally, as well as physically. This correlates with the Be Well part of the American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good campaign. Among other things, they recommend getting enough sleep and practicing mindfulness as great habits for a healthy lifestyle.
We all know how important it is to get enough sleep, but often it’s a little difficult to actually put into practice. Especially if you’re like me and have a tiny human to take care of who appears to have a goal of making sure that you won’t get a full night’s sleep for about the next three years.
In my situation, I teach English online to students in China. They are about 14 hours ahead of us, so that means I wake up at 3am to teach two hours of classes. Ideally, I’d like to get to bed around 8pm to get a full night’s sleep, but the little princess usually doesn’t let that happen, so I often go to bed around 10 or 11 and try to take a nap later the next day after I’m done teaching. Luckily, I only have one child for the moment, so it’s pretty easy to take naps when she does.
Whatever you need to do, try to make it a goal to get in at least 7-8 hours of sleep a day. In this article, Alicia Vikander mentions that one of the key things that she did to get in shape for her role as Lara Croft was to make sure to get enough sleep. “It changes the way you look, the way you feel,” she said, proving that there is truth behind the phrase, “beauty sleep”.
What is it?
Basically, mindfulness refers to being comfortable with your thoughts and aware of how you think and feel. Practices like yoga and meditation are great ways to become aware of how you feel and to help your body reset and process things better. It’s a step that is often overlooked in fitness programs, but it is something that I feel is the key and driving force behind accomplishing goals.
How is it done?
It can be different for everybody, but the way I do it is to meditate for at least 5 minutes a day. If you’re like me, I pictured meditation as something that only hardcore, deeply spiritual people know how to do, like Yoda balancing on Luke Skywalker as he Force-stacked rocks on top of each other (I mentioned I’m a nerd, right?). But it’s actually a lot more simple than that, and mainly involves practicing breathing and letting thoughts flow through your mind without becoming involved in them. For Harry Potter fans, imagine using a Pensive to sift through your thoughts and feelings, watching them go by but not diving headfirst into the Pensive to join those thoughts (okay, enough nerdy fangirl references for this post). Something that helped me get started was an app called Headspace. It does cost $8 a month if you sign up for a whole year at a time, but they do offer 10 days for free that teaches the basics, and that’s all I did and now I just practice daily using the same techniques.
But whether you use an app or sign up for a class, or just decide to do your own thing, see if you can fit in some time each day to relax your brain a little bit and focus on being one with your body and mind. It can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths before falling asleep, and hopefully I was able to share some tips that can help you achieve your goal to live well.