This post is sponsored by Staying Sharp. Keep reading for a giveaway for a free brain health assessment.
It seems that the older I get, the more I understand that being healthy is about so much more than just physical health. While I love to workout, nurturing my body on a deeper level has become much more of a priority over the last five to seven years.
Being healthy in my early/mid twenties was all about setting goals around running and working out. I ate pretty healthy all things considered but I didn’t really have a great understanding of nutrition or how to optimally fuel my body. And then I stumbled across this amazing practice of yoga that opened me up to a whole new world of health on a much deeper level. While I was initially drawn to yoga for the physical workout it provided, it quickly became about so much more than that for me.
Yoga showed me how I was feeling on a physical and emotional level every single time I showed up on my mat. We often compare moving through the practice like peeling back layers of an onion and that’s exactly how it worked for me. I came to the practice with so many layers and walls built up to protect the me that was deep down on the inside. As I began to peel back the layers through daily practice, deeper study, teacher training and starting to teach, I realized that taking care of and understanding myself was about so much more than 26.2 mile races or hot sweaty yoga practices.
These days being healthy is not only about moving my body but also about loving myself enough take care of myself on a more meaningful level. I am so much more focused on my emotional, spiritual and mental health.
Yoga has taught me a practice beyond the mat of checking in with myself on a regular basis and truly asking myself, “How am I feeling right now?” and, “Does that align with how I want to feel?” I feel like I have a greater understanding of how to evaluate what is and isn’t working for me and also having the power to make changes when necessary for my overall health and wellness.
Here are a few of the things that have had the most impact.
Working with a professional therapist.
I have been working with my therapist for over five years now. We meet at least once a month and she’s helped me with everything from navigating through divorce to handling tough work situations to learning how to communication more effectively with others to the grief journey I’ve been on since my brother’s death…and much, much more. She is so dear to me and I cannot even cheerlead enough for the value of therapy for taking care of your emotional and mental health.
Eating real food and finding food freedom.
Cleaning up my diet with more real, whole foods as well as eating based on intuition and what makes me feel good versus what I think I should be eating. You guys know that I think that diet and nutrition are such personal topics but I will say that I feel like I have complete freedom with food these days and such a clearer understanding of how to eat to feel good.
Focusing on personal growth and development.
I am constantly listening to podcasts or books on Audible about personal and business growth and development. I do this mostly when I’m running, walking, driving and doing chores around the house to maximize the value of the time I spend doing these activities. Having these messages in my ear constantly really helps me to not only learn but challenges my thinking and helps me get out of my box. I can’t even tell you how much I have learned by simply listening to tons of other ideas, philosophies, strategies, ways of thinking and stories.
Efforting to reduce stress, sleep more, meditate more, spend more time with friends, Tanner and the pups and work less is a constant and ongoing battle. I don’t claim to have it all figured out but I wholeheartedly believe in the value of it in order to truly feel good and be happy. Stress and lack of sleep are so, so terrible for your health on every single level. While I’m the first to admit that I work a ton, I’ve also set some clear goals around making shifts that ensure that I have more time for sleep, connection and play.
Being mindful of brain health.
Brain health is something that I will say I was much better at when I was younger but have let the practice of taking care of it slip as the years have gone by. When I was younger I was a voracious reader. I also loved brain games and crossword puzzles. Example, I used to print out crossword puzzles and work them at night while I watched TV and then read before bed. These days I scroll through Instagram while I’m watching TV and then either pass out or look at my phone more before bed.
This is where Staying Sharp comes in. It’s been an eye-opening tool for me in truly accepting that I need to bring back a little brain care into my life.
Staying Sharp is a subscription-based digital platform that promotes holistic brain health through free and premium brain games, recipes and more. It’s based upon five pillars of brain health:
- Move – keeping fit
- Nourish – eating smart
- Relax – managing stress and getting enough sleep
- Discover – learning new skills and taking on new challenges
- Connect – staying socially connected
Staying Sharp provides tools to assess your brain health and provides personalized recommendations for maintaining and improving it.
The first step is to take a Brain Health Assessment.
The Brain Health Assessment takes about 25 minutes and measures how your brain works and how your lifestyle impacts your brain performance. I was led through a variety of brain games and exercises as well as a questionnaire about my lifestyle. I’m not going to lie, I felt a little stressed during the test and worried if I was doing okay.
The first thing I received was an overall score. My initial impression was, “oh no.”
I scored pretty low on the cognitive function, which I totally blame social media for. Kidding. (Kind of not kidding.)
Actually, my lowest score was in executive function and based on the exercise that I knew I failed at while I was taking and reading the description of what executive function entails, I was totally not surprised.
Clearly, I have some room for growth! Staying Sharp doesn’t leave you hanging, they provide personalized recommendations for improvement.
There are also tons of brain games available on the Staying Sharp site that you can play to exercise your brain muscles!
I scored significantly better on the lifestyle element of the assessment. No surprise that relaxing is my area for the most improvement.
Staying Sharp offered all sorts of activities for relaxing, many of which could be done in a super quick break from your daily grind. I loved this little texting suggestion.
There is a dashboard where you can track your activities and progress.
Want to take the Brain Health Assessment for yourself and check out Staying Sharp?
Staying Sharp is offering 20 of my readers the opportunity to check out the site. Simply leave a comment saying, “I want to take the Brain Health Assessment.”
The nitty gritty…
- Giveaway closes on Friday, March 3 at midnight EST.
- One entry per person.
- Automatic subscription renewal FYI for giveaway winners: After you are confirmed as an eligible recipient and upon claiming the gift, you will receive your free 1-month membership to Staying Sharp. If you do not cancel, then your membership will continue and the annual subscription rate (plus applicable tax) will be charged to your credit card about the same date each year that you continue your membership. You may cancel your membership and stop the billing anytime by notifying AARP by calling 888-339-5758.