When we work towards improving our health and well-being, we often focus on making substantial lifestyle changes, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, becoming more active, dedicating time to meditation or yoga, or building our social support system. While all of these are valuable, we can also improve our health through smaller actions, like sitting down.
It may seem odd that something as simple as sitting correctly can make a difference in your health, but evidence shows that maintaining correct posture while sitting or standing can reduce low back pain and headaches, increase your energy and flexibility, improve your breathing, circulation and digestion, and make you stronger.
Understanding what healthy posture looks like and how to achieve it, and then mindfully practicing it until it feels natural, doesn’t take much time, but it provides these benefits and more. Take five minutes with Dr. Jason Napuli, a Whole Health chiropractic physician from the St. Louis VA, to learn more about a healthy sitting posture and gentle stretches. It may be the easiest thing you do to improve your health today.
Give yourself a break!
Why is pausing important? No matter how you spend your time, it is important to pause every so often. When we think of our health – and of Whole Health – it can easily become a question of “What do I need to do?” It is normal to get caught up in a routine, or to really want to push through a project or activity. However, in order to make the most of an experience – to learn from it or to solve problems or to improve on something we are doing—it can help to take a break.
Taking a break may mean that we are changing over to a different activity for a little while, like trying to get some movement after we have been sitting. It can also mean taking time for “not-doing.” It helps to stop for a moment to notice, to be aware of what is going on with our thoughts and our bodies.
This does not mean that you just change over to watching TV or other ways of distracting yourself. It is not about avoiding or escaping, but about being more fully aware of what is going on. Sometimes that is not easy because unwanted thoughts and feelings can come up during a pause. You should only do it when you feel ready.
Pausing in a healthy way can help us handle the challenges life gives us with greater skill. It keeps us from living life on auto-pilot. It can give us room to be inspired with new ideas or to see new opportunities. The key is to find a healthy balance between activity and inactivity.
In this four-part series on VA's Emergency Preparedness Simulation efforts, you'll see how simulation and emergency preparedness professionals build collective strategies that mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover from tragedies impacting Veterans and their communities.