5 Myths About Better Health

myth busting

Bust those myths!

Each day, how much time do you spend thinking about how you’re going to take better care of yourself, starting tomorrow? And we all know that tomorrow never comes, which leaves us always one day away from making smart choices.

Well, worry no longer because it’s time to attack the myths that keep too many people at arm’s length from great self-care. Today is the day to take action and embrace those healthy habits you envision.

How many of the following myths apply to you and how can you bust through them?

Myth #1: You need to exercise for one full hour each day all at once.

Fact: Our bodies are designed to move. To operate optimally, our bodies need to move continuously throughout the day with segments of sitting time limited to 45–60 minutes maximum. That leaves lots of time to focus on how we can view any and all movement as positive. Learning to be active in segments of 5-, 10-, or 15-minute intervals often makes it much easier to get started. Even a 1-minute walk to the mailbox to break up an hour of desk work can keep back pain away.

Myth #2: You need to eat healthy foods you dislike to lose weight.

Fact: Eating foods you dislike will quickly lead to reverting back to unhealthy eating habits and feelings of failure. You certainly don’t want that to happen! Eating should be joyful and there are plenty of healthy foods to choose from, so you can spend most of your time eating healthy foods you enjoy.

Making gradual changes helps too. Therefore, focus on healthy foods you enjoy, discover healthy foods you haven’t tried before, increase the time you spend exercising, and get quality sleep as much as possible, and you will see the pounds dropping off! Another tip: If you drink soda, replace it with a healthier drink, including water with lemon, unsweetened iced tea, etc. Soda can contribute significantly to weight gain.

Myth #3: You need to learn to live with stress because there will always be stress in life.

Fact: Yes, there will always be stressful situations that arise, but the important factor is how you react to the stress. Typically, when you are dealing with stress, there is the stress you can control and the stress you cannot. For example, allowing yourself to constantly be overscheduled is stress you can control. You can eliminate the stress by cutting down on your “to do” list.

An example of stress you cannot control is when you are laid off from a job unexpectedly. In this case, you can choose how you react to the situation. Instead of endlessly worrying about the job loss, you can take positive action by thinking about how this may be an opportunity to find a better job. You can take control to reduce your stress; one way is to adopt a more positive mindset.

Myth #4: If you’re thin, you’re healthy.

Fact: Although being overweight leaves people at higher risk of health problems, being thin does not automatically equate to good health. A person in a healthy weight range for their height may also be a person who smokes, doesn’t exercise or eat healthy, has high stress, and doesn’t get quality sleep. Obviously, these habits will leave this person at higher risk for illness and disease than someone who is slightly overweight but practices healthy habits.

Myth #5: Everyone needs to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

Fact: Although drinking water and avoiding dehydration is essential for good health, there are other ways to stay hydrated, including drinking healthy beverages such as unsweetened tea and juice. Foods can also provide fluids, such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.

What other myths can you think of that have provided wrong information about your health? Keep an open mind, bust those myths, and make smart choices for better health!

Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Her company, Health Design, helps businesses significantly reduce costs and increase productivity by prioritizing health, wellness, and safety practices. Health Design is a SHRM Recertification Provider. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at HealthDesignNH.com.

Is Imposter Syndrome Holding You Back?

By Carol Phillips

Have you heard of imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is a term used to describe the feeling and belief that we are “not good enough” or inferior to others. For example, a supervisor announces that the company is inviting employees to apply for a newly created position, which would be a promotion. Imposter syndrome can cause a person to immediately believe that their co-workers will be more likely to secure the promotion, despite evidence to the contrary.

Our feelings drive our thoughts, which drive our behaviors. Some people are aware of their own self-defeating thoughts and how they hold them back from thriving in life. Others don’t even realize they are talking themselves out of acting on life’s opportunities. Whether we consciously recognize imposter syndrome as a significant problem in our lives or we find ourselves lacking confidence every now and then, these feelings of inferiority can negatively affect our wellness, including increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Many people describe the problem as feeling like a fraud and not deserving of any of their achievements, be it in the workplace, with their families and friends, or in the community.

Years ago, I was given an opportunity to apply for a promotion. Several co-workers were also applying for the same job. Although I wanted to apply for the position, I found myself focusing on the many reasons why I would not be chosen for the position (most were untrue). Once I recognized that I was being my own worst critic, I told myself that I needed to embrace all the qualities and experience that would help me be the top choice. Subsequently, I applied for the position, focused on exuding a positive, confident attitude, and earned the promotion. If I had applied, but with insecure, negative energy surrounding me, I believe I would not have been successful.

How can we recognize imposter syndrome in our own lives and how can we counter this problem? Here are five simple steps you can take to identify any issues you may have and gravitate toward a path of self-confidence:

  1. Listen to yourself. What are the daily thoughts and feelings you have that drive you to make certain decisions in all areas of your life?
  2. Try to determine the root cause of your thoughts and feelings of inferiority. Have you always doubted your competence? Did you grow up in an abusive home and/or were you surrounded by highly critical people? Were you bullied at school? Sometimes others have treated us poorly and we never learned to get those false messages out of our heads.
  3. Start changing the narrative. Begin to purge all the self-destructive thoughts that hold you back. Learn to catch yourself when you’re being “not so nice” to yourself and remind yourself of all your strengths. People who are filled with negativity cannot live a positive life and are less likely to exercise, eat healthy, reduce stress, and find joy in their daily lives. Mentally kick the bully out of your head!
  4. Find ways to increase your self-confidence. Once you go through steps 1–3, you will be better equipped to notice all the opportunities in life to improve your self-confidence. Each time you shut down the negative self-talk and identify the endless ways to start loving yourself, your self-confidence will begin to flourish.
  5. Focus on embracing success. Learn to take the time to congratulate yourself for your successes, large and small. Say the positive things to yourself that you would say to a best friend who just shared an accomplishment. This step literally will make your brain feel good and you’ll want to experience that feeling again and again!

Simply being aware that you are having these thoughts can be the start of learning to shut down the negativity and embrace a winning strategy. Your mental and physical health will thank you!

Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Her company, Health Design, helps businesses significantly reduce costs and increase productivity by prioritizing health, wellness, and safety practices. Health Design is a SHRM Recertification Provider. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at HealthDesignNH.com.

Prioritize Your Mental Health During the Pandemic

By Carol Phillips

How is your mental health holding up during these long months of dealing with the consequences of COVID-19? Are you struggling or have you found ways to cope?

We’re all dealing with a wide variety of challenges due to the ongoing pandemic. Our lives have been significantly impacted, and for many people, prioritizing health and wellness has been difficult. Feeling an increased level of stress is common.

We are social beings. Even people who normally describe themselves as introverts are finding it hard to be so isolated as we all try to follow medical experts’ advice regarding social distancing. Previously, we were used to being in the presence of other people, engaging in conversation, working, eating, and having fun together. The absence of these encounters leaves a void that our brains want to fill.

The continuing uncertainty and seclusion we are experiencing can create a negative environment for our mental health and we may feel anxious or depressed. Identifying that it’s a problem is the first step in making changes for the better.

Here are some tips to keep your mental health positive:

Talk yourself out of worrying.

Pay attention to your thoughts and when they become too heavy, consciously think about the positives in your life and what you are grateful for. Also, remind yourself that this situation, albeit feeling incredibly long, is temporary, and will improve.

Focus on others.

Is your spouse okay? Your children, parents, friends? What can you do to support each other during tough times? Helping others is a great way to not overthink your own problems, and you’ll feel better by taking positive steps.

Plan something fun.

What makes you happy and helps you forget your troubles? Give yourself permission to put everything on hold for a few minutes, hours, or a day, or a week! Remind yourself that exercising, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep all contribute to better mental health.

Lazy days.

Are you spending too much time trying to stay busy? Our brains need rest during the day, not just when we’re sleeping. Take some time to let your brain unwind, without feeling guilty.

Laugh.

It’s impossible to be stressed or sad in the midst of a good belly laugh. What makes you laugh? Whether it’s watching your favorite sitcom, a funny movie, or calling a friend with a great sense of humor, schedule some laughter into every day.

Put away your devices.

Being addicted to our phone and email creates a brain that is overworked and sets us up for burnout. Unplug and enjoy some untethered time!

Get outside.

You can’t beat time outdoors. Go for a walk or a hike. You’ll feel better by being in the fresh air and sunshine, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smell of nature. Take a friend or family member, and your pet with you (see below).

Furry friends.

Pets are great for the brain. Did you know that simply petting a dog can reduce your blood pressure? Even watching fish swim in a tank can improve mental health. Walking your dog is a great way get outside every day.

Reach out for help.

It’s okay to not be okay, sometimes. We all go through tough times. If you’re not making progress on your own, reach out for professional help. Don’t know where to start? Call your doctor for a referral. If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at work, give them a call and they will set you up with a counselor.

Hopefully, we are just a few months away from beginning to move beyond this pandemic, where we can begin to embrace our new sense of normal, and literally, be able to embrace our family and friends. We’re all in this together, even when separated, and it will get better.

Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Her company, Health Design, helps businesses significantly reduce costs and increase productivity by prioritizing health, wellness, and safety practices. Health Design is a SHRM Recertification Provider. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at HealthDesignNH.com.