Wellness: The Balance Between Physical, Mental and Social Health
Most people struggle to find the importance in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, or more commonly, realize the importance but do not prioritize it. Well-being is a crucial aspect of our lives. Generally speaking, wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life, a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. A healthy lifestyle does not mean solely eating your veggies, running on the treadmill, and the likes. While these are great habits that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, they do not completely constitute one. Think of wellness as your umbrella in this walk called life. Rain represents of all the problems that may fall upon our shoulders and having your umbrella with you is the only way to block out an accumulation of problems from affecting you. It is constantly raining problems in our personal lives, so you do not want to forget your umbrella! Too much rain can really weigh you down.
“I Do Not Have Time to Focus on Wellness!”
This is one of the most common excuses people give themselves. Believing they are too busy to set up a meal plan or simply making excuses for why they missed a workout makes them seem important but does not improve their physical or mental state. While most of us likely do have a lot on our plate, a large majority are also guilty of finding time to spend 3-4 hours scrolling through TikTok or Instagram at 11:00 pm. That is 4 hours, or half the time recommended for sleep, spent on something as trivial as scrolling through other peoples’ photos and videos. There are two main negative consequences (which carry their own multitude of negative consequences) of continuing with these unproductive habits:
1. The negative consequences of missing out on an opportunity to perform a healthy habit.
Losing sleep causes us to feel tired the next day and therefore less productive, among other major consequences.
2. The negative consequences of performing an unhealthy habit.
Scrolling through social media can bring on a plethora of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, jealousy, and more. These effects can carry on into other aspects of our lives and continually depreciate our mental well-being, thereby negatively affecting our physical and social lives.
“Its Too Late for Me to Start Doing [healthy habit]! Besides, I Wouldn’t Even Know Where to Start.”
Studies consistently find that Americans need to improve healthy habits such as maintaining physical and mental health. The American Osteopathic Associations
(AOA) recently completed a poll that found that 42% of Americans thought that there was major need for improvement in their physical health. Moreover, mental health came in third with 29% wanting to improve their mental health. A deeper dive showed that the need for improvement was highest amongst young Americans aged 18-34 (44%), suggesting that mental wellness is becoming increasingly important, especially with the rise of social media apps.
In addition to these findings is the fact that most individuals have been focused on improving their well-being for the better portion of their lives, whether that is their mental, physical, or social well-being, but few are ever fulfilled with their improvements or feel that they have not reached their desired state. They feel that it is too late to reduce or eliminate unproductive habits and negative side effects sustained over the years.
However, this is almost never the case. There are always things we can do to either reduce these ramifications or improve our state. As for knowing where to start, this is less of a problem as much as it is a concern. Rest assured, there is a place to start and by simply getting to this line of the article, it seems you are on your way there.
Getting Started on Improving Your Mental and Physical Well-Being
Time management is tough for everyone. Whether you are Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, or the local mail man, we tend to think there just is not enough time in the day to achieve what we need to do. While most practical solutions are very personalized depending on who you are, one thing that is constant between all of us is that we are humans who need to have social interactions, eat, maintain spiritual beliefs, etc. Coincidentally, these shared aspects of our lives are extremely important and in terms of time management, should be in the “top-priority" tier for each of us. This is not to say success in your career or catching up on what your friends are doing by checking their Instagram stories is unimportant. Not at all. However, since time in the day is of a limited quantity, we must (consistently) occasionally reevaluate what is better for us in the long term.
The 30 Minute-Rule
Studies have found that the average teen aged between 16-24 spends an average of 3 hours a day on social media. Undeniably, this is an especially large amount of time for anyone to spend 3 hours of their day on social media as opposed to other productive activities. A study conducted by the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology suggests that we should limit our social media engagement to 30 minutes daily. This not only helps reduce anxiety, but also shown to have reduced fear of missing out (FOMO), which is often correlated with high use of social media.
Maintain a 2:1 Ratio Between Training & Social Media
Reading this, go onto your Instagram settings for example and check out your daily usage. If you are spending more than 30 minutes a day on social media, you should seek to gradually lower your social media usage and allocate more time to your physical and mental well-being. To make this change easy and fun, you can add a challenge (twist) to your social media in-take. Simply treat social media usage as a reward for good behavior; every time you train for at least 30 minutes or conduct an activity that improves your state of mind you earn some time using social media.
How much time depends on you, but perhaps going with a 2:1 ratio here would be ideal. That is, for every 30 minutes you train a day, you afford yourself 15 minutes of social media use. Since the average work out time usually lasts less than 60 minutes for most gym birds, you likely will not go over the 30-minute rule. The idea is to effectively reduce the time you spend on unproductive habits and gradually improve your overall well-being. A win-win!
One Step at a Time, One Habit at a Time
“It’s never too late.” As cliché as it sounds, it rings so true that there are countless case studies to back it up. Take Ethan Suplee’s massive transformation since his days as Louie Lastik in ‘Remember the Titans.’ Suplee was in his 30s when he finally got serious about losing weight and sobering up. He started with the simplest starting point of all: asking his doctor for advice. Like most of us, he was unsure of what to do to improve his well-being, or if he was even capable of change! Surprisingly, being a Hollywood star is not the answer to everything.
He started with small steps such as eating healthier, getting a trainer, and going on long bike rides. Today, at 43 years old, he looks better than ever, has more confidence in himself than when he was in his prime as an actor, and has his own (highly recommended) podcast on staying heathy, American Glutton. All that thanks to some small steps he took when he was at his worst.
On another note, congratulations – you are already one step ahead in improving your overall well-being by completing this article!
Why You Need to Get Serious About Your Well-Being
Contemplating your current state and reevaluating your goals will allow you to see the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and in turn, motivate you to continue.
Reducing your daily social media intake to 30 minutes a day decreases anxiety, increases happiness and motivation.
Anyone can seek out advice from people who know better. But if you really follow through, you will get to a point where you will be providing advice.
Small steps may seem insignificant or not worth your time, but they are what leads you to taking bigger and bigger steps.