Creating and Sticking to Your Health Goals

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center  
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Setting health-related goals – like drinking more water, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep – is a worthy ambition; but frequently they begin and remain as ambitions and nothing more. So how do you move from having lots of good intentions to making them a reality and accomplishing your health goals? 

It’s easier than you might think.

  1. Identify your motivators

It’s a widely accepted phenomenon that if you desire a change, you’ll take the necessary steps to make it happen. But if the change isn’t truly coming from within, you’re unlikely to do anything to bring the idea into a reality. 

This concept aptly applies to healthy living, and it starts with what motivates you. Are you motivated to drink more water as a natural way to flush toxins from your body? Do you want to get into a regular bedtime routine to help reduce depression and stress due to lack of sleep? Do you want to get a handle on your snacking habit as a means of promoting a healthy metabolism? 

Whatever it is that you want to achieve, you have to first note why you want to achieve it. Only from there will you find the strength to continue persevering when it becomes difficult.

  1. Make a plan

If your goal is to exercise more, make a plan to do that. “Exercising more,” while it’s a fantastic intention, isn’t measurable and therefore is rather difficult to achieve. What is more? What kind of exercise are we talking about? 

It’s vital to your success to plan out exactly how you’re going to meet your goal. Perhaps it looks something like this:

  • Mondays and Wednesdays – 30-minute jog/run/bike ride
  • Tuesday and Thursdays – 60-minute yoga session
  • Friday and Sunday – 30-60 minute strength training and stretching
  • Saturday – rest day

Obviously, this whole thing is completely customizable, but even writing out a simple schedule like that will keep you accountable and serve as a useful reminder.

  1. Start small and work your way up

If you want to eat healthily, it’s unlikely that you’re going to toss everything in your fridge into the trash and completely start afresh. Not only is that a waste of food, but it’s also a whole lot of extra work. Plus, it can be more difficult to start from scratch rather than starting small.

Eating healthy can be a challenge overall, but substituting unhealthy/sugary/inflammatory foods is an easy way to start. For example, you might want to begin with cutting out added refined sugars. This begins with eliminating desserts, of course, but also items like soda, white bread, granola, low-fat diet foods and ready-made meals. 

When you begin eliminating these items (or whichever category of unhealthy foods you choose), you’ll begin to notice a difference in the way your body feels for the better and will be even more motivated to continue working towards accomplishing your health goals. 

  1. Be realistic

When identifying and outlining your goals, you want to make sure they’re ones that you can actually achieve. If you want to drink more water throughout the day, but don’t have frequent access to a filtered water system, purchase a water bottle large enough to help you reach your quota.

Another example might be wanting to attend the gym for an hour every day, but between commuting and dinner and just everyday life commitments, it’s not possible. Consider, instead, utilizing the great outdoors or investing in an online app or class. That way you can cut down on travel time, but still, achieve your goal of frequent exercise. 

Regardless of what you’re hoping to achieve, make sure it remains within the boundaries of what’s possible for your life.

  1. Consider SMART goals

The acronym SMART stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. This means they say exactly what they’re going to do – they can be measured, they can be met in the time allowed, they’re realistic and applicable to your situation and the time in which they can be accomplished is reasonable. 

An exercise goal that isn’t SMART would sound something like, “I’m going to exercise more.” On the other hand, a SMART goal for exercise would look something like, “I’m going to jog around the local park every day for 30 minutes five days a week.” Not only does it give the measurable time per day, but it identifies where it will be accomplished and how many times a week it will be done. Not only does this tactic make achieving your goals more understandable, but it also makes them more possible. 

A healthy lifestyle in 2021

Maybe you’ve been putting off a healthy lifestyle for a long time, or maybe it’s been something you’ve found an interest in but didn’t know where to start. By starting small, being realistic, keeping yourself motivated and making sure you can measure your success, you’ll be on the right path to accomplishing your health goals both for the benefit of your physical and mental health. 

For further information on how setting and sticking to health-related goals increases physical and mental health, reach out to Pyramid Online Counseling at 833-525-3077.

Meeting Physical and Mental Health Goals Should be Top Priority

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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While it might seem like a lot of work at the start, taking care of your health is one of the most important things you can do. Making sure your body is well-nourished and cared for physically sets you up for all-around success since it provides you with more energy and better mental stability, plus it helps prevent illness and disease in the long run. 

Setting health goals for 2021

Last year was an odd combination of being hyper-focused on health, while at the same time not living to the best of our abilities because of quarantining and stay-at-home orders. No one is blaming anyone for that, but it’s time to make up for the lost time.

When setting health goals for yourself, you’ll want to make sure your short-term health goals line up with your long-term health goals, and that your goals are specific. While it’s great to want to “eat better,” it can be hard to meet such a vague goal. What does eating better look like? Is it cutting your sugar intake by half? Is it making sure at least one-quarter of the food on your plate is vegetables? Is it eliminating carbs? No matter what health goal you set, make sure it’s specific and measurable so you know how to meet it and whether or not you are meeting it.

Healthy ways to start

Only you know exactly what you need in terms of making the best decisions for your health, but these examples can give you some idea of where to begin. 

  1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep

No more of this five, maybe six hours of sleep thing. It’s bad for your body and bad for your mind. National Sleep Foundation Guidelines state that adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night to give their bodies time to recharge. Plus, it’s the time when your body’s systems go to work. Ever wonder why, when you’re constantly exhausted, you also find yourself frequently battling illness? When you don’t sleep enough, your immune system isn’t given the time or strength to fight infection – so less sleep means you’re more prone to infection.

  1. Exercise for 30 minutes

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. Especially if you work a desk job, you need to be getting at least 30 minutes of exercise in a day. It keeps your blood flowing and transporting oxygen properly throughout your body, works your muscles and joints, clears your mind, can get you out of the house and produces mood-boosting endorphins. The list of why you need to move your body can go on forever, but the main point is, your mental and physical health depends on it.

  1. Eat breakfast every morning

Skipping breakfast is an unfortunate way to start the day because eating in the morning gives you the energy your body needs to carry out the day’s requirements, and it starts your body’s metabolism first thing. This can actually lead to benefits in weight management, including weight loss. When you eat breakfast, you’re less likely to overeat later on and you’ll receive important vitamins and nutrients from meal choices like fruit, yogurt and eggs.

  1. Drink enough water for your body

If you’re thirsty, you’re not drinking enough. It’s important to be drinking water constantly throughout the day, as the fluids help remove toxins from the body, carry nutrients where they need to go, help regulate body temperature, normalize your blood pressure and more. It’s recommended for men to drink 101 ounces of water and women 74 ounces of water per day. Buying a water bottle with a specific number of ounces is an effective and easy way of keeping track of how much water you have left to drink in a day. 

  1. Reduce your inflammatory food intake

Inflammation in the body leads to all sorts of aches, pains and an overall feeling of unwellness. It can be the cause of sore muscles and joints, an upset stomach and even red, broken-out skin. By eliminating inflammatory ingredients – added sugar, red meats, mayonnaise, bread and highly processed foods – you can reduce inflammation in the body and feel good about the better foods you’re eating instead.

  1. Read one book every month

If you have a goal to reach, you’ll take the steps to meet that goal. If you’re reading a book a month, you’ll begin eliminating unproductive tasks in order to take the time to read. This might mean spending less time mindlessly scrolling social media or choosing to start or end your day with 30 minutes of reading instead of watching the news. Not only does reading help you unplug while still keeping you entertained, it educates, relaxes and offers a time of peace and silence. 

Taking steps towards a healthier you

Prioritizing your health is as simple as knowing your goals and taking the steps to meet them. It’s always good to take a moment to identify what those goals are and how you’re to achieve them, rather than just having good intentions of living a healthy life, mentally and physically. When you take active steps, you can regain control over your health and begin making decisions best for you. 

To learn more about healthy living, and how a healthy physical state positively impacts your mental health, contact Pyramid Online Counseling today at 833-525-3077.

No Time to Waste: How to Get More Done in 2021

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center  
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Our brief moment of respite where the world collectively slowed down during the pandemic is over and the world is returning to its fast-paced norm.

If you’re struggling to keep up and maximize productivity, you’re not alone. Many people are wondering how to be more productive at work and at home and not sure where to start.

Thankfully though, you don’t have to start from scratch. We’ve narrowed down the top tips on productivity and assembled the best of the best here. Here are the top six ways to get more done and be more productive in life.

  • Plan your day ahead of time

Taking a few minutes to prepare at the beginning of the day (or the end of the day before) is going to be your best timesaver so you can get more done. Use this time to review your schedule, note your priorities and set personal goals. 

Everyone’s day is going to look different, but you’ll want to schedule in time for work, meals (grocery shopping, meal prep and eating time) and your physical and mental wellness on a regular basis.

  • Streamline your organization

How you schedule is just as important as where you schedule. When it comes to organizing your day, keeping it simple is best – only use one tool so you can see your full day’s to-do’s all in one place to be more productive at home and on the go.

Online calendars are one of the best tools for this because you can view them via your phone or a desktop, and you have the added bonus of being able to share calendars and events with others.

Use a code to make your schedule even easier to see at a glance, like color-coding events for work, social events, doctor’s appointments and your kid’s soccer games.

  • Set limits on screen time

According to CNN Health, Americans spend an average of 10 hours a day on devices, around four and a half of them on their phones. Although phones have incredible utility, there’s no doubt that phones are also a huge time-waster.

The number one tip for how to get more done is to limit screen time. It tops the list because it’s so practical, but it’s also so difficult. Managing time on your phone is an important lesson in self-control, but once you can keep to stricter limits, you’ll feel a million times more productive.

Thankfully, many phones come with screen time settings and your device will notify you when you’re at the max time. Spend a week with a limit of one hour on your phone. Stick to it and you’ll notice incredible gains in what you can get done in a day.

  • Stop trying to multitask

When you have too much on your plate it’s tempting to try to do several things at once to knock things off the list faster. However, multitasking makes us feel busier and more stressed and rarely do things get done well. Multitasking wastes time in the long run.

You’ll especially want to stop multitasking during social activities. Trying to play with your kid while you’re checking emails, or sitting down for a meal with your partner while you’re paying bills can leave room for error in your task and makes the other person feel neglected.

If your lifestyle requires that you are endlessly multitasking, you would be better off minimizing your commitments than doing them half-heartedly. You and the people around you will feel happier for it.

  • Don’t overcommit

It’s impossible to do everything, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for not being able to. If you’re struggling to be productive, it might be because you’re trying to be productive in too many areas, instead of honing in on being productive in the areas of your life that are the most important.

As you get the knack of running through your routine every morning, pay attention to what you’re excited about and what you dread. Consider cutting out the things that take up time and don’t add meaning to your life (sorry, work doesn’t count).

  • Invest in your mental health

Maybe feeling unproductive isn’t at the root of your discontent. Sure, crossing things off the to-do list is gratifying, but feeling unhappy may have a deeper cause than your struggle to be productive at work.

If mental health is interfering with how you live your daily life, seeking out therapy can change that. When you feel good about yourself and have an outlet to address your experiences, you’ll have more mental clarity to do other important things.

The key to productivity

You’ll never find the peace you want if you’re only worried about efficiency, and being productive is only satisfying if you’re happy at the end of the day. Make sure to prioritize your mental well-being in your striving for career and life success.

With Pyramid Online Counseling you don’t have to compromise your mental wellness or your productivity. With flexible scheduling and online services, you can invest in your mental health without the inconveniences of in-person therapy.

The New Dad’s Guide to Managing Anxiety

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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Becoming a father for the first time is full of joy, but it is also full of stress and a slew of new worries. It is completely natural to worry about your baby and even your parenting style, but anxiety can also be debilitating, preventing you from fully being there for your child. It takes some reflection and conscious effort, but it is entirely possible to cope with anxiety as a new dad.

Recognize what you can and cannot control

It is far too easy for anxiety to get out of hand. One minute you’re worrying about whether your baby’s bottle is the correct temperature, and the next minute you are full of dread about climate change and the world in which your baby will grow up. Stay present, start small, and focus on what you personally can change. Warm up the bottle a little bit extra and revel in this wonderful time in your and your baby’s lives.

Know that there is no weakness in having anxiety

It’s important, to be honest with yourself and your family about the anxiety you are feeling. Anxiety is a natural, and an entirely expected facet of fatherhood that ebbs and flows over time. Admitting that it is there is the first step to getting help dealing with it. There is nothing wrong with feeling anxiety, and understanding exactly what you are feeling is the first step to seeking out help, getting support and overcoming these obstacles. The goal should be to be the best parent you can be while still taking care of your own mental, physical and emotional health, and a key aspect to that is being aware of and honest about your own mental state.

Share parenting responsibilities

If you are parenting with your partner, come up with an action plan ahead of time. Talk with each other to consider the many different responsibilities you will share as parents, and attempt to plan how you will deal with each of them. How will you split responsibilities? What is your plan of action should specific circumstances arise? Discussing and having a plan ahead of time eases the burden once you are sleep-deprived and dealing with these stressful situations, so you don’t have to have the added stress of making these decisions and delegations once you are already sleep-deprived and anxious.

If you are a single dad, call in all of the reinforcement that you can. Your parents, grandparents, friends, coworkers, siblings and even the neighbor next door are all rooting for you as a dad and would be happy to lend a hand when you need it. Even if you only need a babysitter for an hour so you can run some errands and do a load of laundry, don’t be afraid to ask.

Seek the advice of other parents you know

For better or for worse, fellow parents love sharing all of their favorite parenting tips and tricks. While this is sometimes unwarranted – and annoying, especially when you are trying to keep your baby from crying in the checkout line at the grocery store – other parents are also sources of wisdom. Their years of experience will serve you well when you are feeling a bout of anxiety.

Keep your pediatrician on speed dial

One of the leading sources of anxiety new parents face is concern over the health and well-being of their children. Attempting to understand and interpret the many subtle and confusing signs of your newborn’s health can be particularly daunting and stress-inducing, and just knowing that you have easy access to an expert opinion can go a long way towards easing those anxieties. Get to know your pediatrician well even before your child arrives, and don’t hesitate to approach them with any questions or concerns that might be leading to additional anxiety for you.

Prioritize sleep – yes, it is possible!

Anxiety is probably already keeping you up at night, as you are full of worries about whether your baby is happy, healthy and thriving, or if you are living up to your full potential as a dad. You are also probably anxious about how little sleep you are getting and are worried about how that affects your parenting. Unfortunately, lack of sleep contributes greatly to symptoms of anxiety because the central nervous system is not able to function at baseline levels. Herein lies the catch-22; anxiety leads to lack of sleep, and lack of sleep leads to anxiety.

Pyramid Online Counseling provides effective and secure online counseling, specializing in treating symptoms of anxiety. You should never be afraid to ask for help with your anxiety, especially as a new dad. Reach out today at 833-525-3077 to begin treatment for your anxiety.

How Can I Overcome My Anxiety as a New Mom?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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Let’s be honest: Becoming a new mom is scary. Motherhood is a beautiful experience unlike any other, but it is also one that brings about feelings of stress, worry and exhaustion. The good news is that you are not alone, and you are capable of confronting and overcoming your feelings of anxiety.

Don’t compare your experience as a mother to that of other mothers in your life

For better or for worse, there is no handbook on how to be the perfect mother. As long as you are following health and safety guidance for things like car seats and safe sleep, there is no one right way of doing things when it comes to parenting. It can be difficult to refrain from comparing your choices and decisions – from whether your baby uses a pacifier to whether you subscribe to the cry-it-out method – but this comparison has the potential, while unwarranted, to make you feel inadequate.

If breastfeeding didn’t work out for you and your baby, but your best friend swears by it for her baby, that’s perfectly fine; the most important thing is that both babies are healthy and fed. If you are opting to place your toddler in daycare so you can return to work, trust that this is the best decision for your family even if your mom was a stay-at-home-mom. Of course, it’s important to ask for help when you need it, but questioning your choices as a mother based on someone else’s experience will only lead to anxiety about whether you are doing the right thing.

Take time for yourself

You didn’t stop having needs once you became a mom. Ensuring that you are well-fed, well-rested, and well cared for is just as important for you as it is for your baby. It’s possible — and critically important — to maintain your independence and tend to your needs as a new mom because it will help clear your head and burn off excess anxiety.

Worry for our children is only exacerbated when we aren’t near them or can’t see what they are doing, but it’s not healthy for you nor baby to spend all of your time together. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after having lunch with a friend, watching a couple of episodes of your favorite show, practicing yoga for an hour, or even going grocery shopping by yourself. Plus, this allows for extra bonding time between your baby and their other parent, grandparents or trusted friend who offered to babysit.

Know that you are enough

If you are worried about whether or not you are doing right by your child, chances are, you are. That you care so deeply about how you are doing as a mom is a testament to the love and concern you have for your child. When you’re feeling anxious about whether or not you’re a good mom, think about everything you did for your baby that day. You fed them multiple times, often before you had the chance to eat. You burped them so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. You skipped your own nap so you could rock your baby to sleep.

You changed their diaper, even if it was messy. You soothed them when they cried. You played with them and read to them to keep them stimulated. You wrapped them in a blanket when they were cold and took their tiny socks off when they were warm. You triple-checked that their car seat was latched correctly. Some of these sound like basic responsibilities, but they are parts of a whole that make up a loving parent, and they are also especially difficult when feelings of anxiety and exhaustion are overwhelming.

Talk it out with someone

Approximately 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety once they become a new mom – and this only includes women who have been diagnosed. This sobering figure speaks to the sheer volume of women who experience anxiety after their baby is born, yet it is not very widely discussed in our society’s discourse on the relationship between pregnancy, motherhood, and mental health. 

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with postpartum anxiety, your feelings of anxiety as a new mom are completely valid and deserving of being heard. Speak with your partner or another close adult you can confide in about your feelings, and let them know if you need any help. Bottling up feelings of anxiety will only worsen the issue, and something as simple as expressing what exactly you are anxious about will lighten your mental load.

A licensed counselor or therapist, particularly one who specializes in anxiety or postpartum anxiety, can be another incredible resource for new moms experiencing anxiety. Different therapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy can all be effective treatment options, provided in a safe and neutral space dedicated to your care.

Pyramid Online Counseling is experienced at providing compassionate treatment for new moms, particularly those experiencing postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, or just needing someone to talk to. Online counseling, or teletherapy, is a great option for busy moms who want to address and overcome their anxiety. Get help today by reaching out at 833-525-3077.