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Improving your well being

“How are you doing?” is a common greeting in our society. Most of the time we don’t expect or offer a detailed response. What do you think of when you reflect on what you would say if you thought someone really wanted to know?

Often, we think about how we feel, our health, our experiences, our activities, what is on our mind at that moment in time. It may depend on our relationship with the person asking the question or the context of that greeting. How we are relates to our well-being.

What is well-being? Well-being is an indicator of how people perceive or see their life is going. It acts as a gauge that is meaningful for people and parts of society. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, well-being is the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good.

There are many factors that influence a person’s individual well-being such as genes, personality, age, gender, income, work, and relationships. A higher level of well-being in life can be important for improving a person’s health and reducing their risk for disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), higher levels of well-being are associated with decreased risk of disease, illness, and injury; better immune functioning; speedier recovery; and increased longevity. Individuals with high levels of well-being are more productive at work and are more likely to contribute to their communities.

“Well-being” involves both physical and mental health. It has been found to be associated with self-perceived health meaning how you would rate your own health factors, how long a person lives (longevity), healthy behaviors, mental and physical illness, productivity, factors in the physical and social environment, and social connectivity (ability to feel close to people and form connections).

Aspects or areas of well-being include physical well-being, emotional well-being, social well-being, psychological well-being, economic well-being, engaging activities and work, and satisfaction with life.

What are some ways we can improve our well-being? Focus on self-care. Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.

Here are some tips to help you get started with self-care from the National Institute of Mental Health (nimh.nih.gov):

· Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. Small amounts of exercise add up, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time.

· Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.

· Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.

· Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy such as journaling.

· Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.

· Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night or replay them in your mind.

· Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.

· Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.

For more information contact Family and Consumer Science Agent Elizabeth Daigle at the Izard County Extension Office at (870) 368-4323.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

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