Physical Wellbeing

Your physical health is impacted by a number of factors, including diet, exercise, and sleep habits. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that “positive physical health habits can help decrease your stress, lower your risk of disease, and increase your energy.” [1] The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists describes physical wellbeing as “not just the absence of disease—it includes lifestyle behavior choices to ensure health, avoid preventable diseases and conditions, and to live in a balanced state of body, mind, and spirit.” [2]

Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to improve your physical wellbeing!

Get active

Sedentary behavior (sitting or lounging) has been linked to a shorter lifespan and a host of medical issues. [3] To maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to move around or do a specific form of exercise (a set of squats).
  • Schedule “exercise sessions” with colleagues or friends—everyone walks, rides a bike, or engages in a yoga session at a specified time; join a virtual fitness group where you can set goals together.
  • Aim to get moving for at least 30 minutes each day.

Eat well

The National Institute of Health suggests that you:

  • Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats. Use olive, canola, or other vegetable oils instead of butter, meat fats, or shortening.
  • Cut back on sodium. Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked, or processed. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables that have no added salt and foods that have less than 5% of the Daily Value of sodium per serving. Rinse canned foods.
  • Choose more complex carbs. Eat more complex carbs, like starches and fiber. These are found in whole-grain breads, cereals, starchy vegetables, and legumes.
  • Cut added sugars. Pick food with little or no added sugar. Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose packaged foods with less total sugar.
  • Get more fiber. Switch to whole grains and add different kinds of vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds to your diet.

Prioritize positive sleep habits

  • Fatigue will impact your physical and mental wellness.
  • Lack of sleep is correlated with many health risks such as weight gain, decreased mental acuity and focus, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
  • Develop a set of habits that prepare you for sleep (reading, taking a bath, etc.).
  • Create a sleep environment that is cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Avoid going to bed hungry or full.
  • If you are unable to fall asleep within 20 minutes or wake up in the middle of the night, get up and move to another room.

Other things you can do to improve your physical wellness:

  • Stay hydrated—drinking more water can alleviate aches and pains, improve energy levels, and flush out toxins
  • Enjoy some time in the sun
  • Simply stretch—“regularly stretching your muscles helps you avoid injuries, stay limber and move freely as you age” [4]
  • Drink in moderation
  • Square breathing—inhale for a count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, rest for 4. Repeat.
  • Embrace laughter—bring a sense of lightness by flexing your sense of humor
  • Adhere to routines and schedules as much as possible
  • Perform regular check-ins with yourself—monitor yourself for symptoms of depression/stress disorder such as prolonged sadness, difficulty sleeping, intrusive memories, and/or feelings of hopelessness
  • Maintain brain health by engaging in mentally challenging activities (try a crossword puzzle or a game of chess)
woman jogging