There are so many methods for tracking and recording our health. We can track our steps, keep an eye on our heart rate, map our sleep, record our meals, track symptoms, and more.
Health tracking stats are an interesting way to engage with your body. Although, you and I both know that the data is really being collected to benefit the development of products, which show up in our Facebook, Google search, and email sidebars…so before you become a willing subject of data harvesting, think about whether or not you really need to. For example, I have been using a sleep app to track my sleep patterns. And what does it tell me? That I should be getting more sleep. DOH.
Sometimes, I wonder if these apps do more harm than good. For one thing, they allow us to get away with never checking in with ourselves. We live our lives on screens, and are often so immersed in past, present, far away, or fantasy lands that we don’t really know what our bodies are doing, or how they feel. Do we need an app to tell us, or should we just be teaching ourselves to do daily checkins? It only takes about 60 seconds to close your eyes, and think about everything you’re feeling. Sometimes I’m surprised to discover that my neck hurts a bit, and I feel groggy, and my feet are cold.
Also, some of these apps may just trigger a feeling of regret. When we feel regret, we have a desire to go back and change the past1, but this doesn’t always translate to better behavior in the future. The best health advice is that which aligns with who you are and what you intuitively feel you need to do. Being a body, mind, spirit “hacker”, I love trying and testing new things, and I realize that, while many of them claim to be that surefire “energy booster!” “full night of restful sleep” “best online yoga class EVER” not all of them work for me or are actually good for me.
Developing your own health program means just that…developing it, with your own creative genius involved. And if it works for you, AWESOME! But don’t try to push it on everybody else around you. Instead, encourage them to discover their own route.
So here are a few areas that you can think about when building a self-health program:
Exercise Getting lots of steps = good thing, wearing an electronic tracker = not necessarily good2.
Learn how far you need to walk, run or bike to get your heart rate up, then follow that protocol. Remember to switch it up. If one mile worked for you last month, you may need to do more this month. Make sure you keep in touch with yourself, and don’t make assumptions.
Food Eat real food, the less processed the better. Stick with organic if you can afford it and read every label. If it has more than 5 ingredients, it may not be a good choice.
Also, find things you like to eat! Following a healthy diet is a change you make for life. You’re not going to stick to it if you’re forcing raw broccoli down your throat every day. Make time for cooking, and experiment with quick 10-20 minute recipes to find that balance of healthy and yummy. Eating is one of the most important things we do every day. It deserves some thought, and some time.
Sleep Sleep is vital. Train yourself to sleep longer, and set yourself a night time ritual to help you wind down. 7-8 hours of solid sleep per night is ideal3. So many of us treat sleep as a luxury. It’s a basic necessity and you need to make sure you’re getting it. What’s concerning about sleep is that many people who are sleep deprived think they’re just fine, even while their cognitive abilities are becoming impaired4. It’s important to check in with yourself, and be really honest about how you’re feeling. Or have a friend or partner help and observe you.
Napping is also a great way to refresh your mind midday. Even 10 minutes can have revitalizing results5.
Meditation Yep. As sick as you may be of hearing about it, meditation is calming6, is great for your mental state7, and lowers your blood pressure8,9. No matter how you do it – sitting, walking, standing, lying down – it’s one of the best ways to reprogram yourself, and realize that everything that comes your way is part of your personal growth, and you can handle all of it.
If traditional meditation just isn’t for you, try activities that get you into a flow10 state, like painting, running, or cooking.
Learning Learning has myriad benefits! Apart from the obvious upside of obtaining new knowledge or skills, learning can slow cognitive aging11, can improve your capacity to learn faster in the future12 and can increase life satisfaction13.
Learning has the most positive impact when you do it with others, or feel that you have a choice about what you’re learning, and when you spend time on it14.
Gratitude Remember to be grateful for Every. Single. Thing. Celebrate every win, no matter how small, and don’t waste time on self-flagellation and catastrophizing15 when you fail. Pick yourself up, move on, and ask for help if you need it.
Your creative genius health is yours to care for and own. Treat it with love and kindness ❤