Steps to a Healthier and Happier You

01
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Follow These Steps to a Healthier and Happier You

Stacked Stones / Green Bamboo
Wellness. Moncherie / Getty Images

Balance in all things is critical to maintaining health, not only physical health, but emotional and spiritual health as well. In the hectic drive of today's world, many women (and often men too) forget to take care of their most important asset, themselves. In an effort to help people of all ages learn to take care of and nurture themselves, here are some easy ideas you can use to bring balance and harmony into your life.

02
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Exercise

Tai Chi in the Park
Tai Chi in the Park. Tim Platt / Getty Images

Self care begins with exercise. For years, we have heard how exercise is an integral part of achieving and sustaining good health. Exercise does more that keep your heart healthy and toned. Exercise improves the performance of your lungs. It improves your circulation by increasing the exchange rate of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Exercise activates many internal mechanisms, which help to cleanse and tonify the body.

Exercise is not only aerobics, weight lifting, cycling or jogging. This level of exertion isn't necessary to have and maintain balance in our lives. Simple acts such as walking, yoga and even stretching can have a beneficial effect on your body and spirit. Incorporate one of these activities into your daily routine. Pick a specific time of day. Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes a day to work on your physical well-being. As you become comfortable with the activity, increase its length. Add another 5 minutes every week or two. Is this asking too much for yourself?

03
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Eat Right

Balanced Diet / Food Pyramid
Balanced Diet. David Malan / Getty Images

Eating right is another key toward having and maintaining health and balance in your life. As our society changes and the basis of life becomes accelerated, many of us get trapped in the idea that faster is better. How many times have you found yourself getting frustrated as you sit in your car waiting in line at a fast food restaurant? Or watch as the clock ticks away, counting down the seconds until the microwave announces that your food selection is ready?

In order to fuel the fires of our being, we need to consume the right blend of nutrients in order for our bodies to function correctly. Would it surprise you to find out that many of the fast and convenience foods available today lack many of the vitamins and minerals we need? In fact, the main components of many of these foods include white flour, saturated or hydrogenated fats and sugar. While they may taste good and fill our non-discriminating stomachs, they lack nutritional value. They are just empty calories looking to be consumed.

Eating healthy is easy. Reduce or eliminate processed or convenience foods from your diet, replacing them with whole grains, chicken and fish. Try to incorporate a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into your food regimen, looking to eat a leafy green salad and a piece of fruit daily. Even with these small changes in your diet, I think you will find a healthier, happier you.

04
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Take Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins for Health
Vitamins for Health. Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Getty Images

Hand in hand with eating healthy is the use of vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements. Food production has dramatically changed the nutritional value of the foods we eat. As plants grow, they absorb minerals from the earth, making them available to us in a form our bodies can utilize. Modern farming has stripped the soil of many of the minerals we require. Common industrial fertilizers, while providing the plant with the basic nutrients it needs to grow, lack the full spectrum of minerals originally found in the earth, many of which we ultimately need to survive.

Even individuals that consume a healthful diet may lack certain vitamins and minerals we need. By taking a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement you will be taking yet another step toward ensuring you are getting all of the nourishment your body needs.

05
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Reduce Stress

Woman in a Lavender Garden
Stress Reducing Lavender Scent. picturegarden / Getty Images

Stress is a word we are all too familiar with. If it is not the job, it is the kids. If it isn't the kids, it is some unexpected expense you haven't budgeted for. Let's face it, stress is accepted as a basic part of our lives.

When we are whole in body, mind and spirit, we do not experience stress. We experience stress when we choose to hold onto energies and emotions as opposed to accepting them and allowing them to flow through us, or "to roll off our backs." Many times, fear is the underlying emotion that traps us. While we may not think it is on a conscious level, there is always some part of us that is afraid. We are afraid to let go or afraid to make changes in our lives, even if these changes will bring us a sense of peace and harmony.

Stress reduction is an integral part of bringing balance back into your life. Stress has been identified with burnout and fatigue, a lowered immune system and an increase in free radical damage. There are a number of simple things you can do to help reduce or eliminate the stress you are experiencing in your life.

There are times, however, that the only way to eliminate stressors from our lives is by making behavioral or lifestyle changes. These changes can include quitting an undesirable job, ending a failing relationship or even saying "No" to a needy friend or relative. While these changes may seem radical, in the end many people find them freeing.

Are You in Creative Void?
 

06
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Meditation and Mindfulness

Stacking Pebbles on a Beach
Being Mindful. Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images

Meditation is a great technique to use for stress reduction. Meditation can be either active or passive. Active meditation includes exercise, drawing or dancing. Even activities such as doing the dishes or raking the lawn can have a relaxing therapeutic effect. Meditation can also be passive utilizing techniques such as concentration, breath control and even creative visualization. Each of these activities distracts the conscious mind and allows unwanted thoughts and emotions to drain away.

07
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Find Your Bliss

Relaxing in a Canoe on Calm Waters
Relaxing in a Canoe on Calm Waters. Noel Hendrickson / Getty Images

Through my work, I have found countless woman who do not know what they want, need or desire. They have spent a majority their lives "taking care" of someone else. When asked what they want, many of them just don't know. They have never taken the time to ask themselves these important questions. They were not taught to take care of themselves or the importance of honoring their needs or their needs and desires are just as important as everyone else's. Why should they? It is not part of our society.

Caring for Your Inner Self
 

08
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Keep a Journal

Woman Journaling on Porch
Woman Journaling on Porch. Yellow Dog Productions

Journaling can be an excellent way to help you clarify your thoughts, needs and desires. Journaling gives you the opportunity to separate out your feelings from those around you. It gives you the opportunity to figure out who you really are.

Journaling is an easy technique to master. Buy yourself a blank writing book, staple together some scrap paper or sit in front of your computer, taking a few minutes each day to write to yourself. As yourself questions like: What do I want? What do I need? What kinds of things make me happy? Where am I going in my life? Where do I want to go? As you start to explore some of these questions, take the time to listen to your answers. Be honest with yourself. What is the point of lying, you will only be deceiving yourself.

Once you have completed this stage, give yourself permission to have it, get it or work toward it. Create goals and work toward them. Ask your friends and families for their support and blessings. With each and every step you take, no matter how large or small, you are creating more and more balance in your life. That's right, give it a try. You might be surprised.

Therapeutic Benefits of Keeping a Journal
 

09
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Have Fun

Woman Swinging from a Tree Branch
Woman Swinging from a Tree Branch. Hero Images / Getty Images

Take time each day to have some fun. Incorporate fun into any (or all) of the activities that you do. That's right, just go ahead and do it. You never know, you may enjoy yourself. Take the time to give to yourself daily.

Giving to yourself, honoring yourself and loving yourself is important. As you take the time to eat right, exercise, meditate or fulfill your own need, you will begin to experience a sense of empowerment, peace and harmony. Each step that you take will help to bring the scales back into balance.

Did you ever think that a mere 30 minutes a day could give you so much?

  • Sandcastles and Mud Pies
  • Laughing Buddha Game
  • Fun is the Ultimate
10
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Get Adequate Sleep

Woman Sleeping in Bed
Woman Sleeping in Bed. Tuan Tran / Getty Images

Sleep is an important step that offers rest and revitalization.

Keeping to a routine sleep schedule is the best way to give yourself the adequate sleep your body needs. Some people require eight or nine hours of sleep each night, whereas other people function quite well with a little as five hours. Allow your body to teach you what its needs are. But no matter how much time your mind and body need it is recommended that you set a bedtime and an awake time and do your best to stick with them. Going to bed at the same time and awakening at the same time each day will help to balance your awake time.

Edited by Phylameana lila Desy