Every day individuals put their own well-being on the back burner to take care of work responsibilities, families and day-to-day activities. It is important, however, to also practice self-care, according to Teresa Henson, Extension specialist – nutrition outreach coordinator at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

August is National Wellness Month. It is a time to think about self-first and to take care of your mental, spiritual and physical needs to stay healthy. In honor of Wellness Month, Henson suggests you consider the following recommendations for a better self. These recommendations can be the start to a new and healthier you for months and years to come.

Drink More Water. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Choose MyPlate suggests you cut calories by drinking water. Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories. Make fun ice cubes from 100% juice or add slices of fruit to make water more exciting.

Build a Healthy Plate. The USDA Choose MyPlate recommends you incorporate healthy foods from all food groups. Incorporating a variety of nutritious foods in your diet will provide you with the necessary nutrients, minerals and vitamins to be healthy.

Up Your Physical Activity. Exercise is important for your health. Individuals who are active are less likely to develop certain chronic diseases than adults who are inactive. Try something new. Sign up for a class to learn how to salsa dance, surf, do tai chi or play a sport.

Get More Sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that a third of adults in the United States get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep in your daily regimen may increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, stroke or poor mental health. Getting enough sleep is good for your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep nightly.

Practice Meditation. Stressors of life’s responsibilities can hinder your health. Adding meditation to your day can help calm your mind and spirit. Meditating for a few minutes can reduce stress and anxiety and promote emotional health.

Think Positive Thoughts. Positive thinking can benefit your mental health. Take time to control your thought process. Thinking positive can provide such health benefits as lower levels of distress, better coping skills in stressful times, lower rates of depression and increased quality of life. Steer away from negative thinking if possible. Incorporate meditation, which is a great way to make you aware of your thoughts and feelings. Meditation can help channel positive thoughts instead of negative ones.

Pamper Yourself. Making time to pamper yourself is a great way to recharge and rejuvenate and is a necessary part of staying healthy both physically and mentally. Taking a “me” day can improve your overall health in many ways. For example, pampering yourself can help release stress, helps you to refocus and improves happiness.

“Jump start your wellness journey with these recommendations to make health your priority,” Henson said.

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