Health and Wellness
Aristotle had once said- "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." The synergy and totality of different elements produces an effect that is far greater than the contribution of individual elements.
While the aforesaid has scientific connotations and applicability in varied aspects, nowhere is it more relevant than in the area of Health and Wellness
While Health and Wellness are often used interchangeably, in my view Wellness is all encompassing and therefore the macro. Health and Wellness are cumulative in the sense that if we were to define Totality as the Key Performance Indicator of well – being then the cumulative Health and Wellness metrics would combine to define that
Health: The human body is a very complex machine. A well-functioning machine is the core of our existence. With the advancement in modern science, this can be monitored by a number of different parameters
So, whether we are healthy or not can be gauged by the responses to some key questions such as
- Am I free of major illnesses?
- Do I have all my vitals in acceptable ranges?
- Do any physical limitations inhibit me from doing what I want to do?
Wellness: While physical fitness is a key indicator of health, whether one is truly in the state of well-being can be ascertained from their wellness quotient. And there is just one simple question to be answered for this really
- Am I at peace with myself?
While there may be, physical manifestations affecting health if one is low on the Wellness quotient, it might not always be the case. One may be at peak physical prowess reflecting well on the Health quotient but at the same time that person might be ill at peace with themselves. While there is no way for others to know this, one needs to be true to oneself to identify if they have issues in this regard.
In summary, it’s not only how fit one is physically that is important but equally important is if one has a harmonious coexistence of mind body and soul.
The current challenges
I am aware that there is a plethora of challenges that we face as society which are major factors prohibiting us from achieving our health and wellness goals.
Working individuals are stressed out not only due to demanding job pressures and the constant need to work at peak performance but the job itself comes with logistical challenges with respect to food timings, non-ergonomic office set-up, frequent travels disrupting schedules, the need to manage office demands on the one hand and at the same time balance the demands and needs at home.
Young students have constant pressures to study, excel in academics, sports, deal with peer pressures, deal with parental pressures, coupled with unhealthy eating habits, being stationary for hours at a stretch during lectures to name a few
Parents are constantly worried about finances, planning for their kids, planning regarding the house, their future, the kids future and end up neglecting looking out for themselves
The elder generation is under constant anxiety looking at happenings in their peer group, friends and relatives falling sick, worrying about their kids and the physical happenings with respect to the normal bodily wear and tear
Last but not the least home makers face a unique and somewhat underappreciated set of challenges with respect to managing the home, in many cases managing office in parallel, looking out for kids, parents, in laws, working long hours and often neglecting themselves both physically and mentally
In a nutshell, across demographics and sexes, there are many factors that are impacting our lives. In many cases, we do not even see nor acknowledge the inherent impact that they have on our wellness.
So, what do you do?
Well, it’s not all gloom and doom. Why the challenges may seem many, and believe me there are, there are many things we can do to improve our health and wellness quotient.
These are things close to my heart and something which I follow, and which has helped me be the person I am today.
While I elaborate, this further on, in a nutshell
Improve your Health quotient by
- Focusing on Physical Fitness
- Eating healthy and right
- Looking after your mental health (I consider this as a power lever which helps both Health and Wellness)
Improve your Wellness quotient by
- Looking after your mental health (as above, I consider this as a power lever!)
- Manage stress
- Travel (Yeah you read that right! :)
I call the above the levers to improve your overall well being
Physical Fitness: As the adage goes "Any exercise is better than no exercise at all."
Firstly, a confession. I am not a gym person at all! It’s great for anyone who can follow a gym regimen and kudos to them. I simply can’t. And I am sure that there are a lot like me out there.
So, what do I do? It’s really simple. I look at ways to be physically active in all the little things I do. Got to drop my kid to the school bus below? I simply take the steps on the way back up. All six floors at that. Multiply that for my two kids and that’s a serious cardio workout without stepping foot in the gym. Going grocery shopping. How about hitting the store a kilometer away rather than the one right outside? And how about chucking your car keys away and walking there. Simply look for ways and means to explore these opportunities.
The other treasure trove is just playing with the kids. They have the most unadulterated and infectious enthusiasm about them which engulfs you into motion. On a lighter note, with so many fad fitness trends I got to find out if anyone has patented the kid-fit exercise regimen. If no one has I might just patent it ;) Playing hide and seek with the kids, impromptu dance jigs with them, playing catch and many others gives you a serious workout. Not to forget the deeper bond you forge with them.
Eating healthy: What we eat is what provides fuel to our body
Whilst eating is a necessity eating right transforms this into an art. So, what are you waiting for? Channel your inner artisans people!
How do you do this? Again, it’s simple, with the choices you make. How about replacing that can of cola with butter-milk, the popcorn with makhanas, that slice of pastry with fresh cut fruits.
For folks going to office explore if it’s possible to carry lunch from home. If not follow the healthiest options available and pick the same
There is ample information available on the web that can help guide you in these. But you need to have the will and the commitment to follow the same. You – are your best help.
In addition to eating it’s important to replenish your body with water at regular intervals in a day. On an average, it is advisable to consume at least 3 litres of water a day.
Lastly quit starving yourself to lose weight. Giving up meals wreaks havoc with your metabolism. Eat healthy, eat right in moderation and exercise, you will be on your way!
Mental Health: This is really a power lever that is a bridge between your physical and spiritual wellbeing and as such affects both your health and wellness quotient. Our mind is constantly preoccupied and it's important to relax and declutter it through relaxation techniques.
To decipher the unknown, the mind has to be extraordinarily quiet and still which can be attained by practicing yoga and meditation regularly. These are some invaluable jewels of our culture which have rightly found a voice across the globe.
Doing breathing exercises like Pranayam followed by Surya namaskar and other asanas, ending with 10mins to 30 mins of meditation can really change your way of life.
So how about a little deep breathing exercise routine on your next flight?
In addition to wellness, regular yoga practice helps to reduce stress. According to a study in the 2010 issue of ‘Psychosomatic medicine’ reducing the inflammatory response to stressors on your body will help reduce
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Panic disorder
- Increase flexibility
- Better posture
- Reducing joint pain
These are some of the benefits provided by yoga and meditation. So Chant 'Om' for mental peace!
Managing Stress: Everything in life may be uncertain. Two things aren’t, taxes and stress ;) On a more serious note, stress is inevitable in today’s times.
Right from workplace pressures, academic pressure, parental pressure, peer pressure to broken relationships and competition in general, we are engulfed by stress.
So rather than saying how to avoid stress, which I feel isn’t possible, the question is how do we better manage it.
Some of the things to keep in mind in this regard are
- Keeping a journal or writing in leisure time can be a great stress buster. It is especially relevant for people who are going through any unpleasant events in their lives. In such situations, it is common to feel myriad emotions. In such cases writing helps to express your emotions like anger, despair and helplessness on a piece of paper rather than harming yourself or others
- The importance of sleeping for atleast 7-8 hours a day cannot be stressed enough. A well-rested individual is better equipped to handle stresses that life throws on them
- Develop a hobby or passion and allocate sometime for it during the week. Be unapologetic about this time. It is your time your passion and you deserve it
Travel: Travel far enough you meet yourself!
It might seem strange to see travel in a blog for wellness but having travelled extensively and someone who is passionate about travelling I can vouch for its therapeutic and enriching nature.
When you travel, you explore different places, meet new people, learn about new cultures. This broadens your horizons, gives you a larger perspective to life which augurs well to face new situations and challenges. Travelling on a short vacation at the place to your choice will give you the needed boost to come back to your daily routine with a positive attitude