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How to incorporate wellness into your everyday routine

From sipping your cuppa in silence to exercising daily and sleeping on time, leading a healthy life is about building a set of good habits that can be practiced throughout the day

Savouring a cuppa in the morning without any distractions can give a positive jumpstart to your day(Unsplash/Chris Knight)

By Aditi Sarawagi

LAST PUBLISHED 28.02.2024  |  08:00 AM IST

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer defines wellness as “the act of practicing healthy habits daily to attain better physical and mental health outcomes so that instead of just surviving, you're thriving". Everyone today wants better health but everyone might not have the time, circumstances, facilities, or monetary capability to do so. But fitness is for everybody.  And there are several habits, which while appearing insignificant can add up to become life-changing when done consistently. 

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Lifestyle specialist, Dr. Akshat Chadha, who has his clinic in Navi Mumbai explains it perfectly. “When we talk about wellness we must in the same breath talk about lifestyle. Lifestyle is nothing but what we do every day," he elaborates. Wellness consists of nutrition, exercise, and sleep amongst other things, basically a holistic approach to your life that encompasses both physical and mental health.

DAILY EXERCISE IS NON-NEGOTIABLE

Physical exercise has since long been considered the top marker for good health. And not without good reason. Studies by the WHO show that regular physical activity, such as walking, cycling, yoga, or playing a sport, provides significant benefits for health. It improves muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness; improves bone and functional health, and reduces the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer), and even depression. Chadha insists on 30-60 minutes of daily exercise be it a brisk walk yoga, weight training, Zumba or Pilates, done five days a week as non-negotiable.

A recent concept of bite-size workouts or ‘exercise snacks’ has also evolved, wherein you can squeeze in a dozen or so two-minute or five-minute exercises between work tasks. For instance, walking for 5 minutes after every meal, doing 5 squats every time you have to use the restroom, and using the stairs instead of the elevator are great ways to incorporate a little movement in between your daily work hours or chores.

ADD SOME PROTEIN IN YOUR MEALS

But wellness is not just physical exercise. What we put inside our bodies in terms of food and nutrition is just as vital. Your relationship with food doesn’t have to be complicated, and nutrition consultant Neelam Agarwal from Apollo Clinic, Kolkata has some handy tips and tricks you can easily incorporate into your routine without having to stress about elaborate meal plans. She suggests snacking on a fruit daily. Something as simple as a fruit can have multiple health benefits. 

“Have any seasonal fruit as a mid-morning or evening snack as it is the best ‘fast food’ loaded with fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients," she says. Having a protein element in all your meals is an easy hack to curb your cravings and make healthier eating choices. “Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass, for boosting metabolism, and for losing weight by cutting down cravings," Agarwal notes before listing out protein-rich foods. Apart from non-vegetarian sources like egg, fish, chicken, etc. you have many vegetarian options like cooked pulses, sprouts, sattu water, nuts, curd, paneer, milk, soya chunks, and tofu… the list goes on, she adds. 

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One’s physiological well-being also plays a huge role in overall welfare. In today’s digital age, the presence of over-information cannot be denied. Psychotherapist Mansi Poddar from Kolkata recommends being mindful of the content you consume. “Expose yourself to content that lifts you. Not content that brings you down. Watch movies and read books that give your fodder for thought and avoid reality TV which only adds to mental noise," she suggests. 

Poddar also stresses developing a deeper connection with friends and family as humans, after all, are social beings. At the same time, Chadha recommends journaling as a way to improve your mind-body connection. “Putting your thoughts, feelings, worries, to-do lists down on paper is a great habit to imbibe into your routine as it will help you get in touch with yourself," he says. Poddar, meanwhile, suggests documenting photos or writing down small moments of joy or gratitude every day to see the brighter side of life.

A FEW MINUTES OF QUIET

Experts also recommend building a well-rounded morning routine, which can help one gain control of their day early on, and add more value to the day. Samriti Vashisht, a yoga teacher from Khanna, Punjab starts her day with warm herbal teas. 

“A few minutes of silence has a great role when it comes to our overall physical and mental well-being. This silence, while we sip on our herbal tea, has all the answers that we keep seeking throughout the day," she observes. Poddar has a similar practice. “My favourite go-to for wellness is to have a cup of tea without my phone, people, or any distractions. If you can find a spot in nature or even a nice cafe, stillness is a great self-improvement tool. She adds that beginning one’s day with a quiet prayer can also work wonders. “If you believe in a higher power, a small act of reverence can help your mental health. Long arduous rituals and prayers are not needed to feel connected to a high power", she stresses.

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GET YOUR SLEEP CYCLE IN ORDER

When talking about a morning routine, one cannot miss the importance of a beneficial nighttime routine, and sorting out one’s sleep cycle or circadian rhythm comes on top of the list. 

“Sleep is when the body repairs itself so if you're not sleeping for 6-8 hours on most nights then you are living life on half battery just waiting to drain out", explains Chadha. Poddar agrees and even suggests taking a supplement for better sleep. “I have found taking the right supplements to optimize sleep and energy has been a game changer for my mind. I take various forms of magnesium which helps in better sleep, " she says but cautions that supplements need to always be taken on a doctor’s recommendation. 

Agarwal is an advocate for early dinners as part of a night-time routine. “Ideally, having one vegetable-based meal, which can be in the form of a salad, soup or sautéed and an early and light dinner can do wonders to our health," she explains. For Chadha, dinner is always 2-3 hours before bedtime. “Just doing this can help you maintain a healthy gut and feel energetic in the morning. It also helps in metabolism by keeping belly fat in check,"

“Our habits are strung together to form a routine, which when repeated again and again becomes our lifestyle. So if you want to be ‘well’ in the truest sense (not just for a short time), then work on building good habits that will help in developing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle," signs off Chadha.

TINY HABITS, BIG CHANGES 

Dr. Akshat Chadha and nutritionist Neelam Agarwal recommend adding these tiny habits into your daily routine for a big, healthy change: 

1.Have a bowl of curd daily- as it provides probiotics essential for a healthy gut.
2.Have a handful of nuts daily for a healthy heart, strong bones, better brain function, and reduced joint pains.
3.Take smaller bites and chew your food thoroughly as these habits will help improve your gut health.
4. Drinking around 2-3 litres of water is a must as it helps to improve blood circulation, keeps the gut clean and clear, improves joint lubrication and hydrates the skin. 

Aditi Sarawagi is an independent writer who covers wellness, travel and food.

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