So, you have decided that you are not as happy or a healthy as you would like to be.
Where do you go from here and how to you start to make changes?
This first step can tricky for many reasons.
Sometimes it is hard to work out what it is in your life that needs to change to make you feel happier and healthier. Sitting down and actively looking at the main elements of your life that affect your health is a good way to asses which of area is most in need of some work. In Lifestyle Medicine we divide these up into nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep and healthy relationships.
More often than not, there is more than one area that you need to make little changes in in order to have a bigger impact on how you feel.
A good example of this would be someone who is really trying to lose weight because they feel this is the biggest risk to their health. In most cases, it’s not as simple as changing what you are eating as often other issues are at play such as stress, lack of time for physical activity and poor sleep. Simply following a ‘diet plan’ is not going to get you very far if you don’t look at all the other things that are needing some work.
Add into this issues such as looking after a family, hormonal changes such as menopause or pre-menstrual syndrome, a sedentary job and you can see why so many people struggle to make significant long term changes to their weight.
The same can be said for those who identify their mood as the main issue causing concern. Often we encounter people with significant anxiety, depression and stress symptoms who fail to respond to medication and short term intervention from mental health services as we have failed to make changes in all the other areas of their lives which affect their mood.
By looking at all these aspects of our health we can start to build a picture of what areas could be improved and from then we can start to put in place a series of small changes that will make a massive difference to how we feel and how healthy we are.
Taking the first step can be daunting. When I first started to look at what I needed to change to improve my health I felt pretty overwhelmed. It seemed like there was too much to do and I felt that making all these changes would be a constant uphill battle.
What I found was that as soon as I made the first few changes, the rest were easier to put into place. For me, it was like trying to get a huge tyre moving by pushing it across a floor. It took a lot of effort to get the tyre moving but once I got it going with a few wee steps it was much easier to keep it in motion and in fact, I gained momentum as I went along. I still hit wee bumps that slowed me down now and again but the trick is to try to keep moving, even if the pace slows down for a bit.
If you feel there is an area, or areas of your life that you need help to improve then we are here to help. We have all had different reasons behind why we have made changes in our lifestyle and some of us have had to put more effort into making changes in different areas but we share the common goal of trying to improve our health and enjoy life a bit more.