What does summer mean to you? When I think of summer, it brings on a warm, relaxed sense of well being, reminiscent of times dancing in the sand, listening to good ole’ beach music and enjoying a Jimmy Buffet state-of-mind. When summer rolls around, I look back on those winter months and think, “Why don’t I feel this way year round and why am I not as active?” After being indoors all winter, and feeling starved of sunlight, we look forward to the summer months of fresh air and activities. It is a bright and active time of year – filled with endless opportunities to focus on self, friends and family. Bottom line, summer is a time when I feel better and balanced in my own skin. Can you relate? Do you feel most balanced this time of year or are you able to find balance year round? I applaud you, if your sense of balance and well-being has not become seasonal like mine.
I share with you my opportunity for improvement, to challenge yourself to not let your health and wellness become so seasonal. With each of my Patients, I try to discuss some component health and wellness no matter season or the reason for her visit. Why? It is an opportunity to focus on her and remind her to do the same. Wellness is about you, and making sure you are balanced and strong in mind, body and spirituality. If I had to identify one aspect of wellness that I struggle with on a daily basis, it would be EXERCISE. Exercise is essential to our health and wellness. We, Americans are faced with an epidemic of obesity because we do not focus on our own individual health and wellness, remain active or exercise. In 2008, the estimated medical care costs for obesity-related issues were approximately $147 billion. If the obesity crisis is not addressed, studies have projected that by the year 2030 approximately 90% of all Americans will become overweight or obese, resulting in an increase of health-care costs attributed to obesity to approximately $860 to $956 billion. Patients often tell me that they have not started to exercise because of the weather. I hear “I will start when the weather is prettier or warmer.” Is it really the weather that keeps you from exercising and unplugging to strengthen you? In some sense, I must say that I do relate. It is easier to exercise outdoors and seek activities when not met with the challenges of a harsh climate. Is it the sun that encourages us to get out and about? Is it the lifestyle we create or allow? Well, honestly, I ask, do people in sunny Florida feel better and balanced year-round compare to us Carolina girls?
No matter our geography or season, we do lead very busy lives. We often spend our days rearranging priorities, strategizing to meet the demands our various duties and tasks, where some tasks may go unfulfilled if ranked lowest on the list. I am frustrated with the one task that always ranks the lowest on my list– me! I must admit that during the summer I find it easier to put my needs first, but other times of year, I feel other tasks should take precedence. Again, I ask why? Our sense of well-being and balance in life and work should not be seasonal.
I challenge you to find that work-life balance year round and to start now. I propose that exercise should be at the forefront of your health and wellness efforts, as this will enable you to remain steadfast to find that balance in every aspect of your life and family. Write down a goal for each day that you make as a non-negotiable of your day to focus on you. The following our essential components, outlined by the American College of Obstetrician Gynecologist, to help find your sense of wellness and balance so that you find presence in yourself and to be present for others.
- Physical activity: Try to get at least 150 minutes per week of an exercise you enjoy doing.
- Diet: Fill the majority of your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and foods high in omega 3 fatty acids.
- Appreciation: Appreciate and be mindful of at least one pleasant thing each day.
- Social Support: Try to have a strong social network of positive and happy people who support you.
- Volunteerism: ‘Giving back’ in some volunteer capacity lifts the spirit.
- Control: Having some control of your work life is one of the best ways to prevent burnout.
The American College of Obstetrician Gynecologist, “Guide to Promoting Healthy Lifestyle.”