A woman meditating outdoors
By Rebecca Roybal Jones

Spring Into Your Best Self

Simple Tips For Feeling Better From UNM Center for Life

Spring offers a golden opportunity to adopt small, healthy changes to support your overall wellness, especially after more than a year of living in a pandemic.

“It's a perfect time to start taking small steps on a day-to-day basis to create the life that we really want,” says UNM Center for Life director Laura Medina, MD. “And it doesn't have to happen all at once,” she says.

Survey results recently published by the American Psychological Association found that a majority of us have quite a bit of anxiety coming out of this pandemic year.

“It's not just about whether or not we could potentially become sick or we could make someone else sick,” Medina says. “It's also, ‘What does the outside world look like again?’”

Many of us have had to cope with undesired weight changes, lost jobs and wages, and friendships and relationships that have realigned in ways we didn’t expect.

Medina, who recently joined UNM Health, says that because we’ve all be lying dormant for more than a year while working from home, it’s a good time for a reimagining and rebirthing of ourselves, even though it might seem overwhelming.


Laura Medina, MD
It's a perfect time to start taking small steps on a day-to-day basis to create the life that we really want
Laura Medina, MD

“A lot of people have reassessed their priorities and have taken some steps toward what they really want their lives to look like,” Medina says. “I'm not a big one for New Year's resolutions, but we can begin taking baby steps in the direction that we want to go for our lives.”

It can all start with taking one simple breath, she says. Tune into feeling that breath from the tip of your nose, in your chest or in your belly.

“That embodiment, that sense of coming into your body, will stop that brain activity of what we call rumination, where you're going over and over worrisome thoughts, anxious thoughts,” she says.

“If we are living in the past, or worrying about the future, we're not really here enjoying what's going on for us right now. We're not enjoying the beautiful day. We're not enjoying the laugh of our child, or the interaction with a coworker. So, the best stress management is truly to come back into what's going on right here and right now.”

Another thing that’s important for our bodies is rest and recharge. “Though we’ve all been at home, it hasn’t been a particularly restful year,” she says.

Step away from the brain-stimulating blue light emitted by computer screens and go outside for natural light to reset your internal clock. In fact, a good way to get a jump-start on your day is to wake up when the sun comes up and within the first hour, go outside, even if it’s only to pick up the newspaper.

Get even more sunlight on your lunch break. Take a lap around the parking lot and aim to be screen-free an hour before sleep, Medina says.

Find small ways to relax and unwind by engaging in stretching or practicing yoga. “Our bodies like signals of time for sleep and time for waking up and for relaxing,” Medina explains. “Take a warm bath with candles and music if it helps you to relax. It makes the body aware that it’s time to go to sleep.”


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These might sound like New Year’s resolutions doomed to fail, so it’s a good idea to make them modest enough so that they’re doable. If you go for a five-mile run on your first day of attempting exercise in a long time, you’ll likely have shin splints and feel too sore to want to exercise the next day.

Instead of telling yourself you’re going to have just one cookie instead of many cookies, tell yourself that you’ll go for just one little walk. “Instead of what you’re going to give up in your diet, think of what you’ll add to it,” Medina suggests.

Remember to remind yourself of all the good in your life.

“Every day, just write down one good thing that happened,” she suggests. “That will take us out of our negativity bias, and it could be, we just woke up. Some days it could be the best thing that happened today was that today's over with – and that's OK. It’s just recognizing and looking for that one good thing that happened.”

These tips are designed to fit into your everyday life, Medina says.

“My main message is it's not going to be a black-and-white change for most of us,” she says. “It's just starting to take baby steps out there and beginning to change your lives. If every day we can move a little closer to our picture of what being healthy is, think of how far along you'll be in just 30 days.”

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