WELLNESS BASICS

THE 30-DAY CHALLENGE:
A Model for Change

The idea is simple: Focus on making one positive, sustainable lifestyle change over the next 30 days. Then add another one. Think of how different your life could be a year from now! This approach makes behavioral change do-able while giving you a greater sense of confidence and control over your life. Here’s a “change menu” to choose from—or make your own.

Physical Fitness

Fitness is at the core of aging well, because being functional and pain-free are so entwined with your quality of life. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hours in the gym. What you do to be active matters less than doing something.

  • Begin a program of regular walking.
  • Get a set of resistance bands to start building strength.
  • Start doing any kind of push-up you can, pushing from your knees, a counter, or even the wall.
  • Do a few simple stretches daily.
  • Try a tai chi, mobility, or yoga class.
  • Build simple balance exercises into your routine.

Healthy Eating

You can’t lose or keep off weight with exercise alone. What you eat is just as important, or more so. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Just practice moderation, ignore diet fads, and think about what you’re eating before you eat it. Remember, your body needs quality fuel.

  • Eat from small plates or bowls to help control portion size.
  • Emphasize vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Avoid processed foods high in sugar, sodium, and chemical additives.
  • Bake, steam or roast foods instead of frying.
  • Find ways to cut just 250 calories a day; that can mean a two-pound weight loss in a month.

Quality Sleep

As we age, it gets harder to fall asleep, we wake up more often, have shorter periods of deep sleep. Yet we need just as much sleep as younger folks, and being sleep-deprived can be a serious health hazard. Sedatives aren’t a good remedy, sleep scientists say. Improving sleep hygiene is a better idea.

  • Observe how much sleep you need to wake up refreshed, and go to bed in time to sleep that many hours.
  • Go to bed and wake up on a fairly consistent schedule.
  • Skip that nightcap; alcohol is known to disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Avoid caffeine after your morning coffee or tea; it can affect your system for many hours.
  • Learn techniques for quieting your mind during wakeful periods.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, and avoid screen time an hour before bed.

Positivity

People who stay optimistic and engaged with the world tend to be healthier, live longer, and be more resilient in the face of challenges. Science tells us that a positive mindset and strong relationships are powerful medicine.

  • Start the day with a gratitude ritual.
  • Focus on what you can do—not what you can’t.
  • Get out of the habit of negative self-talk—nip those thoughts in the bud whenever they arise.
  • Become more attuned to the positive people and happenings around you.
  • Tuck away an uplifting saying, image, or story you can turn to when you need a boost.
  • Listen to music that creates an upbeat mood.

Lowered Stress

From small daily hassles to the state of the world, we all have plenty to grit our teeth over—and stress has a nasty habit of feeding on itself. When it’s chronic, stress can become hazardous to our health.

  • Get out in nature.
  • Do something physically active—it’s the best stress-reliever around.
  • Learn deep breathing and meditation; many free apps are available to guide you.
  • Lose yourself in a good book or a crafts or fix-it project.
  • Take a hot bath and stretch afterward.
  • Slow down and stop multi-tasking.
  • Take a break from the news and social media.

Sense Of Purpose

We all need a reason to get up in the morning … something that energizes us and brings meaning to our lives. But purpose doesn’t have to be something impressive. It could be as simple as being kind to friends, family or neighbors.

  • Volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about.
  • Reach out to someone who could use your help and support.
  • Take inspiration from people you admire. How might you emulate and honor them?
  • Connect with a community of people who share your values.
  • Fill in the blank: I’ve always wanted to learn ________________________. Then do it.