Wellness is a word we’re hearing more and more today – is it just a trend? What does wellness mean to you? Is it eating right? Getting enough exercise? Maybe wellness means to you that you are stress-free or in optimal health. The concept of wellness means something different to everyone. Yet, the general idea of wellness means that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.
At the end of the day, wellness’ significance is linked to achieving optimal health. The World Health Organization defines wellness as “a state of complete, physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.”1
Today, I will explore what it means to achieve optimal wellness, the areas of your lifestyle that makeup what wellness means, and offer tips to implement wellness into your daily life. Before we get into that, I’m going to get more into what does wellness mean?
What Wellness Means
Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits daily to achieve optimal health. Think of wellness as a bowl of mixed ingredients to make a delicious meal. These ingredients include your social life, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and mindfulness. All of these ingredients impact your health in some way.
The choices you make affect the “freshness” of these ingredients. A stressful situation such as a demanding job, family, or financial struggles can cause you to lose sleep, crave sugary snacks, and exercise less. This can cause your meal (or wellness) to go bad.
Our modern lifestyles make it difficult to always balance these factors that contribute to wellness. I will tell you my proven method to achieve optimal wellness later. First, I will give you tips to address the ingredients that makeup wellness.
How to Implement Wellness Into Your Life
Your social life, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and mindfulness (stress reduction) are the five areas of wellness. So it makes sense to achieve wellness; you must make changes to each area. Here are tips on how to implement wellness in those areas.
Having a supportive social network allows you to develop assertive skills and become comfortable with who you are in social situations. What’s more, a group of positive friends increases your self-esteem and creates boundaries.
Here are some tips to increase your social wellness:
- Get involved or volunteer
- Join a club or organization in your community
- Know when to prioritize yourself and not over-do it with social activities
- Make an effort to stay in touch with friends and family even virtually
Your mental health and physical health should never be thought of as separate. Exercise has a direct effect on your mental health. Your body produces nearly 50 hormones that impact every facet of your existence. Hormones regulate growth, metabolism, mood, temperature, heart rate, sleep, and sexuality. Of those hormones, endorphins are the most abundant released during exercise.
Endorphins have been found to reduce depression, boost self-esteem, support weight loss, and enhance pleasure. You don’t need lengthy, strenuous workouts to get endorphins, and just 30 minutes of movement daily will lower your stress and boost your mood.
Exercise also strengthens your immune system and promotes optimal sleep, which is essential for mental and physical health. A walk outdoors with your family is the perfect opportunity to move your body (bonus, it also taps into the social wellness piece). If you’re feeling anxious at work, try to take a break and go for a walk. Low-impact workouts like Pilates and yoga are also great workouts.
Nutrition is such a vital part of optimal health and wellness. We get essential vitamins and minerals from our food that perform several bodily functions. Unfortunately, our food isn’t as nutrient-dense today as it was during our ancestors’ time. Modern farming practices speed the growth of produce, increase its size and improve pest resistance. The increased production from artificial fertilizers decreases concentrations of minerals in plants. This is called the “dilution effect.”
Furthermore, while modern agriculture has increased the food supply, making more food available for more people, that process has also stripped the nutrients from the soil where our food grows. This is called soil depletion, and every new season of crops grown makes the problem worse.
I recommend eating a diet full of whole organic foods to get the most nutritional value from your food. Eating organic foods can help reduce your body’s toxic burden, eliminate GMOs, and get the most nutrients out of your food. However, I understand that buying all organic foods can be expensive. At the very least, the meat you eat should come from organic sources. I get all of my meat from ButcherBox because they source it from pasture-raised, free-range, and wild-caught sources. I’ll talk more about foods you should avoid and nutrition in just a minute.
Sleep is an essential function that allows our bodies to recharge, refresh and be alert for the next day! Ideally, you spend at least 1/3 of your life asleep, yet so many people struggle to fall and/or stay asleep, also known as insomnia. Insomnia is linked to reduced REM sleep, which is the deepest of the stages of sleep. If you lack quality sleep, it harms your overall health and impacts your total wellness.
The best way to get enough sleep is to follow 3 simple steps for optimal sleep.
- Get tired naturally – Having a regular sleep schedule, waking up early and going to bed early, exercising, and creating a bedtime routine are great ways to promote optimal sleep.
- Eat these – Foods rich in tryptophan, magnesium, and melatonin. Turkey, chicken, and shellfish are excellent sources of tryptophan, while bananas, avocados, and green leafy vegetables contain a lot of magnesium. Your body naturally produces melatonin. However, you can also get it from pork, salmon, and cherries.
- Skip these – Fatty foods, rich proteins, chocolate, alcohol and coffee, and over-the-counter medications that could contain hidden caffeine and sugar. Check your labels!
For maximum sleep support, I use Rest and Restore Max™ before bed, and I find it tremendously helpful to relax my mind and body to get a great night’s sleep.
Stress isn’t just a feeling. It’s an actual release of hormones that your body produces when it’s met with a challenge. The number one stress hormone is cortisol. In stressful situations, cortisol tells your immune system to gear up for a challenge. Your immune system responds by producing inflammation, and cortisol signals your immune system to calm down when the danger has passed.
This system works well when you encounter acute stress that happens suddenly and then passes. However, too many of us are dealing with chronic stress. I strongly encourage you to set aside time daily to do something that helps you unwind. Some of my favorite activities to help manage stress include:
- Take a hot bath with Epsom salts.
- Meditating and breathing exercises help calm my anxiety and manage stress. I use the app HeartMath.
- Dancing with my daughter Elle
- Listening to music
- Spend 30 minutes a day in my Sunlighten Sauna
- Reading a book
Taking steps to improve these five dimensions will help you achieve optimal wellness. However, as a functional medicine doctor, I know that there are times when additional support is needed, such as if you have an autoimmune disease or food sensitivity. The proven method that I’ve used with thousands of patients can help you relieve your symptoms and reverse your autoimmune disease. I’ve named this lifestyle The Myers Way®.
The Myers Way® for Optimal Wellness
The Myers Way® is based in science and uses a functional medicine approach that looks at how all systems in the body interact with one another and seeks to get them functioning optimally. In other words, achieving optimal wellness.
The Myers Way® addresses your gut, which is tied to stress, nutrition, and sleep, and implements lifestyle changes that include exercise. This approach rests on four pillars.
Pillar I: Heal Your Gut
You begin by healing the gut with the 4Rs – remove, restore, reinoculate, and repair. Here’s how you do that.
First, you remove those that negatively impact the environment of your GI tracts, such as toxins and inflammatory foods, as well as intestinal infections such as SIBO and yeast overgrowth.
Finally, you repair the gut by providing the necessary nutrients to help the gut repair itself. Leaky Gut Revive® Max supports your immune system and gut lining. Adding collagen protein to your drink or smoothie and/or drinking bone broth will also help to heal your gut.
Pillar II: Get Rid of Gluten, Grains, and Legumes
Once your gut is healed, it’s time to make diet changes and eliminate inflammatory foods such as gluten, grains, and legumes that cause damage to your intestinal tract and inflammation. I also recommend that those with autoimmune diseases avoid vegetables in the nightshade family, which includes peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. These plants are very high in lectins that damage the gut lining, quickly enter the bloodstream, and do not break down in cooking.
Pillar III: Tame the Toxins
Many patients noticed improvement after addressing the first two pillars. However, if your symptoms didn’t improve after addressing the first two pillars, there is more work to do by addressing your toxic exposure.
We are exposed to thousands of toxins every day, and they are found in the water you drink, the air you breathe, food, cookware, cleaning products, and cosmetics. Unfortunately, we cannot altogether avoid toxins. As such, the solution is to reduce your body’s toxic burden by:
- Buying clean skincare and body products
- Cleaning your air by getting a HEPA filter for your home. I use AIRDoctor® air filters in my home.
- Buy clean food and eat organic whenever possible. It can be expensive, so if anything, buy free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught seafood.
- Clean your water by installing water filters on your shower taps and sinks. I have a complete filtration system from Aquasana.
Pillar IV: Heal Your Infections and Relieve Your Stress
If your symptoms haven’t cleared up after addressing the first three pillars, it’s time to dig deeper. The fourth pillar of The Myers Way® focuses on healing your infections and relieving your stress.
To relieve stress, I suggest adopting daily stress-relieving strategies. A few of my favorites include breathing exercises, listening to music, dancing, taking a long walk, or practicing yoga.
The great news about The Myers Way® is that once you start following this lifestyle, you’ll notice that it isn’t willpower keeping you on The Myers Way®! Wellness has a different meaning to a lot of people. I’m here to tell you that total wellness is achievable. By practicing healthy habits daily, you can achieve optimal health.
- Health & Well-Being. World Health Organization. 2022.