The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.
As Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, I’m a master advice-giver to customers seeking to enjoy the best health possible. My specialty is showing them how to balance food and lifestyle choices, while learning how to set priorities. At the end of the day, your state of health is a reflection of your priorities. If regular exercise and preparing wholesome meals are at the bottom of your list, chances are you aren’t as healthy as you’d like to be or could be!
Yes, I’m great at dishing out advice, but if I’m being honest, I don’t always practice what I preach. This is especially true when it comes to balancing work with play.
It wasn’t until I received a cancer diagnosis, that I began to realize just how much stress I was placing on myself. Make no mistake, my stress was 100% self-induced and the “c” word was a wake-up call that my priorities were in need of a serious overhaul.
The sneaky thing about stress is, you don’t always feel it. This chronic, silent, everyday stress manifests as inflammation in the body, creating the perfect environment for disease to set up shop and have its way with you.
The power to prioritize your health is in your hands, and it starts with taking small steps to bring more balance to your day. These four steps are part of my personal toolkit for enjoying more peace and well-being, and I know they will help you too!
Step 1: Take 5 First Thing
How you start your day is how it will unfold. A calm morning leads to a calm day, while a frantic morning gives way to a stressful day. You can accomplish a state of inner harmony by simply carving out 5-10 minutes every morning for quiet meditation or prayer. Those who fool themselves into believing they are too busy to take five minutes are exactly the individuals who need it most.
Step 2: Power Hour Meal Prep
Spend one hour on a Saturday or Sunday to do some light meal prep for the week. This time spent on tasks like cleaning and chopping vegetables, boiling quinoa and assembling smoothie ingredients will seriously lighten your load throughout the week. Translation: less stress!
Step 3: Plan for Tomorrow
Pull out your planner in the evening and plan for tomorrow. What are your top priorities? Remember to be realistic and avoid adding too many tasks, otherwise you’ll add to your stress! I totally geek out on planning, so this is my favorite step. Who doesn’t love the rockstar feeling that comes with checking items off their to-do list?
Step 4: Tackle Stress (before it tackles you!)
When you find yourself getting stressed, stop and take a long, slow deep breath. Then ask yourself these two questions:
- Where am I?
- What time is it?
The answers will always be here and now, respectively.
This exercise is a wonderful way to pull yourself into the present moment, which is the only moment there ever is, or ever will be. It’s also the only place where peace can be found.
My diagnosis (and recovery) has been my greatest teacher. I’ve learned to use inner peace as my barometer. Calm and easeful feelings tell me I’m on the right path, living in the moment, here and now. And when I feel dis-ease or anxiety, it’s a clue that I’m trying to bite off more than I can chew. The irony is, I accomplish much more in a peaceful state than an anxious one.
You don’t have to wait; the time for peace is now! I invite you to prioritize these four steps for a more balanced, healthy and harmonious life.