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Your Own Path to Health: A Journey of Discovery

The end of one year and the beginning of the next is a wonderful time to reflect on health and well-being and to set the stage for the future. There are often a number of things we want to do. We may want to find a way to add exercise into our day or adjust our diet. There may be conditions in our family medical history to consider or specific exams that might be important such as a mammography or colonoscopy. Sometimes, it is tough to know where to start. You don’t have to do everything at once! Start with the simple things that are most important to you. The act of beginning a new path is, in itself, invigorating. Each step will point the way to the next step and the next one after that. You will find lasting change through those small steps and chances are, you will enjoy the process.

Throughout the past year, Healthy Alum has offered resources you can apply in your life. Selections follow from our CWRU NetWellness experts that may help in forging your own goals. You may also want to explore past issues. Use this time of endings and beginnings to embrace health and well-being in your own way. Through your success, you will discover new possibilities throughout the year; 2013 can be the year of starting a path to long-term success.


Sleep Matters

It’s difficult to believe that one-third of the average human life is spent sleeping. After all, life pulls us in many different directions each day. From working late hours and maintaining the house to spending time with family and friends, it’s surprising that anyone has time for sleep at all. While the issue of inadequate sleep is not a new one, today’s technology can serve as a distraction, as well as allowing us to work harder and longer, and a good night’s rest is usually the first thing to be sacrificed because of it.

Everyone is different, and the amount of sleep a person needs to feel rested is not an exception. While some people require at least eight hours of sleep to feel refreshed, others may function well on only six hours. Regardless of the time that’s right for you, there are steps that you can take to get the most out of your nightly rest.

  • Try to go to bed only when you are drowsy
  • Maintain a regular wake time (even on days off work and on weekends)
  • Keep a regular schedule
  • Avoid napping during the daytime
  • Do not spend excessive amounts of time in bed
  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime
  • Try to exercise regularly, but at least six hours before bedtime
  • Avoid ingestion of caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime
  • Do not drink alcohol when sleepy
  • Avoid the use of nicotine close to bedtime or during the night

To learn more about why sleep matters, visit the NetWellness feature from March 2011: Laying Down the Facts about Sleep.


Don’t forget the workplace

In our current culture we expect to be able to do everything and to do it well. Both men and women may feel pressure to not only be excellent performing employees but to be the best friends, parents, partners and housekeepers possible. This crush of priorities can make many people feel as if they do not have the time and energy to handle it all. While the concept of a well-balanced life is widely accepted today, attaining it is as difficult, if not more so, than ever before.

Consider starting your day by visualizing how it can be the best possible day. The mind is receptive to your feelings and ideas upon waking. During the day, think about structuring your workspace for maximum productivity. This includes making sure that all of the work tools you use are placed appropriately for your individual needs.

Use the lunch period that you have available as a positive, energy-building time. Think of topics to discuss at lunch so you do not get stuck listening to a long tale of someone else’s woes (which is highly energy draining). Throughout each day consider taking two to three mini breaks. Also, allow time to celebrate something that went well, such as a positive gesture from a coworker or a good deed that you performed. Take a stretch or walk break for a few minutes, or take a few deep breaths. These actions will help you to enhance your energy. Planning a restful, inspirational or educational activity to do on your way home and upon arrival would also be good to consider. To find out more about making your workday as healthful as possible, visit the NetWellness feature from July 2011: Working 9 to 5: Making a Healthy Living.


Eating healthy can be delicious

The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans place stronger emphasis on reducing calories and increasing physical activity. They encourage us to eat more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood and to cut back on sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

Through improved nutrition and physical activity, the recommendations are intended to give advice on achieving an overall healthy eating pattern that will help to:

  • Promote health
  • Reduce the risk of chronic diseases
  • Reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children are overweight or obese. These new and improved dietary recommendations give you the information you need to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. Adopting the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines can help you live a healthier, more physically active and longer life, as well as contribute to a lowering of health-care costs. To learn more about incorporating healthier foods into your everyday meals this New Year, visit 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


Screenings save lives

From colon cancer and breast cancer to skin cancer and heart disease, there are a wide array of conditions that could be avoided if preventative screenings are attained on time. One of the best ways to look out for the health and wellness of you and your family is to schedule a visit with your physician. Determining the screening measures and schedules that are right for you is an individual process and one of the most healthful steps you can take in the New Year.


Hope Through Research – You Can Be Part of the Answer!

Many research studies are underway to help us learn about wellness. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:


For more information:

Go to the Wellness Center health topic.