Today, I want to introduce you to my friend Jen, founder of Jen’s Wellness Corner. Our paths crossed about 7 years ago in Sugar Land, TX where we both worked as personal trainers for Life Time Fitness. We lost touch for a period of time when we both moved; I ended back in my home state of Minnesota and Jen, a bit more adventurous, made Sydney, Australia her home. Over the past year or so, we’ve rekindled our friendship, thanks to our weekly Skype chats.
I asked Jen if she would be interested in writing a guest post for Healthy Living How To to and she happily obliged. Jen has a double Master’s in Psychology and Health Education working as a Wellness Coach who specializes in the psychology of living a healthy life.
4 Psychological Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle
The way we move, the foods we eat, and our sleeping patterns all influence our mood and mental health. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a healthy way of life can vastly improve psychological wellbeing. While there are a host of psychological benefits, I have focused on four.
1. Decreased Mental Illness
Research indicates that eating a nutrient rich diet can reduce depression and anxiety levels. In addition, these foods can decrease the likelihood of bipolar episodes as well as decrease the negative symptoms associated with ADHD. A nutrient rich diet activates and releases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, both of which improve mood.
Exercise is another great way to improve mood because it releases endorphins. When these are released, you are likely to feel contentment, pleasure, and euphoria. The great thing is that these pleasant feelings can last all day, especially if you keep them topped up by incorporating exercise throughout the day.
2. Better Able to Handle Problems
Engaging in regular exercise and eating real food that nourishes your body can increase your ability to address problems efficiently. Part of a healthy lifestyle is learning to think positively. Instead of dwelling on negative emotions, which inhibit your ability to cope, focusing on the positive can increase your performance, resilience, and assist you in developing various coping mechanisms. What’s more, these positive emotions help eliminate the crippling all or nothing mindset, and instead, can boost motivation and inspiration.
3. Increased Self-Esteem
Living a healthy lifestyle can increase your self-confidence and self-worth in a number of ways. When you get a personal best in your workout, walk past the cookie jar at work, or sleep for a solid eight hours, you feel a sense of pride at your accomplishment. When you are confident in your abilities, you can push yourself to continue to grow and improve. By accomplishing your goals you prove to yourself that you can do what you set your mind to through discipline, determination, motivation, and inner strength. Each of these traits can foster improvements in self-esteem.
A common side effect of a healthy lifestyle is an improvement in body composition. Seeing positive changes in your physical body can increase confidence and self-respect, in turn making you feel better about what you are doing and who you are.
4. Cognitive Benefits
Exercising and eating nutrient rich food improves brain function and memory, and can help defend against cognitive decline. Eating nutritious food supports healthy brain activity, which decreases the likelihood of brain dysfunction and neurodegeneration.
Another component of a healthy lifestyle is play. Playing board games, completing crosswords or puzzles, or playing a sport all require the use of the brain. The brain is like a muscle. The more it is used, the stronger it becomes. Living a healthy lifestyle means you are less likely to sit in front of the TV for hours, as you would rather be doing something fun and stimulating. Keep it up, your brain appreciates it.
The physical benefits of living a healthy lifestyle are well-known. While these aspects are important to understand, the many psychological benefits must also be considered.
About the Author
Jen is a wife, Wellness Coach, Personal Trainer, and founder of Jen’s Wellness Corner. She has spent the past seven years helping improve the health and wellbeing of others. Jen has a double Master’s in both Health Education and Psychology and is passionate about nutrition and how it impacts physical and mental health. She also loves to cook and bake healthy foods that are delicious and nurture both body and mind. Since going paleo/low-carb, the quality of Jen’s life has dramatically improved, and she wants others to be able to experience these positive changes. Jen believes that everyone deserves to be happy and healthy, and her goal is to help others enjoy life to the fullest by being well.
Copyright © 2013 Jen Knutson, MS, Jen’s Wellness Corner
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What is Wellness Coaching and Who Is It For?
Wellness coaching helps you become the best version of yourself by educating, supporting, and assisting you with the healthy behavior skills that foster wellness. Guidance and encouragement are used to assist you in setting goals and taking the small steps that lead to positive changes and lifelong healthy habits. Wellness coaching focuses on what is important to you, whether that be weight loss or weight management, fitness, stress management, nutrition, or any other area that will increase your health and wellbeing.