Money may be tight these days (and we’re all feeling the angst of that possibility, even if we’re not personally feeling the pinch yet), yet it is still critical for us to prioritize our health and wellbeing. In fact, it may even be MORE critical now than ever! Why? Because our physical AND mental health are everything - just ask anyone who has everbeen sick for an extended period of time, or anyone who struggles with chronic exhaustion, or depression, or constant colds and allergies. When we are unwell, feeling better is all we wish for. It is then that we recognize how important our health is. We desire the energy, the clear head, the ability to focus and function at our best that comes with wellness. Strong healthy bodies, and strong, healthy minds, are better able to respond to stress and react to it appropriately without becoming run down, sick or overwhelmed.
So, whether you are feeling economic stress now or not, I urge you to make your health a priority NOW before it’s too late. Below are some of the tips and tricks I’m using now to maintain my mental and physical health, while keeping an eye on my budget as well.
1) Yes, you guessed it - DESTRESS. This costs you nothing, yet it is the highest-impact thing you can do. Stress is one of the KEY contributors to illness. Meditate, breathe, have more fun, turn off the TV, focus on what’s going RIGHT in your life, play with your children or your dog, take a bath…it doesn’t so much matter WHAT you choose to do, just choose to do something every day that brings peace and calm to your body and your mind. It’s THAT important.
2) Eat out less often. I know you know that, but I have to say it, because I hear people complain about the high prices of healthy food, yet they are also going out to eat for mediocre food on a regular basis. It is much less expensive to enjoy a home-cooked meal of all organic foods than probably even the least expensive dinner out! I am not saying NEVER go out to eat (enjoying a great meal at a wonderful restaurant is one of my greatest pleasures, and pursuing pleasure is great for your health), but I am suggesting that perhaps that last minute dinner-at-your-local-restaurant (or take out place)-because-you-don’t-have-food-in-the-house-for-dinner may not be necessary. You will spend A LOT less money if you eat at home, and you will GAIN a lot in health (did you know that restaurant meals tend to be bigger in size, more fattening, and higher in sodium and unhealthy fats than meals cooked at home?).
3) Plan ahead - Of course, eating at home requires some planning, so make sure you gather your goods ahead of time. Sit down for a few minutes and think about what you will need to prepare your meals in the next few days or week, and get your fridge stocked ahead of time. Proper preparation can make a HUGE difference! If you’d like an already-prepared dinner menu and grocery list, check out my friend, Aviva’s, six o’clock scramble newsletter www.thescramble.com.
4) Pack a lunch. See #2 & 3 . It’s the same idea, really, yet most of us don’t even THINK about packing a lunch for ourselves. It might be time to rethink that! Bringing your own lunch is a great way to save money (check out a cool calculator to figure out your savings at www.dinkytown.net/java/LunchSaver.html ) AND your health. My favorite earth-friendly lunchboxes (adult and kid-appropriate) can be found at www.laptoplunches.com.
5) Shop at your local Farmer’s Market- there you will find healthy, local, delicious foods for less than you would pay at a traditional market (check out www.localharvest.org to find one near you).
6) Buy foods in bulkfor lower prices, including grains, beans, nuts, flour, and cereals. Also consider buying bags of apples, onions and potatoes, which offers a better value than buying individually.
7) Replace soda with water- this will amount to a HUGE savings in your pocketbook and your health!
8 ) Consider forgoing your gym membership (especially if you’re like many people who are paying for one without using it), and instead exercising in the FREE outdoors, or in your home with a DVD from the library. But do move your body - it’s one of the best things you can do for your physical and your mental health.
Remember - investing in YOU and your wellbeing is THE most important (and least risky!) investment you can make. The benefits? Lowered health care costs in the future, less time off from work, more productivity, and most of all, feeling GREAT, which is absolutely PRICELESS. Take the time to commit to one action in the service of your health today - your body and your pocketbook will thank you.
Karen Schachter is a psychology of eating expert. She believes that each of us deserve to feel nourished, joyful and at peace with food and in our lives. Through her programs, she inspires and supports girls and women to value themselves, tune into their intuition, and nourish their bodies, their minds and their spirits. Karen combines her understanding of emotional issues with her holistic nutrition knowledge to help clients make real, long-lasting changes in their lives.
If these issues resonate with you, call or email Karen for a complimentary get-acquainted session.