The world can be a busy place, and in the rush to meet deadlines and advance professionally, it can be easy to forget to take care of one’s self on a personal level. Even once you’ve made the decision to consciously work on improving your well-being, knowing where to start can be difficult. Fortunately, expert advice and guidance can help anyone formulate a plan for looking after their health and fitness, and the plethora of apps and devices that exist in the health and wellness space today make it easier than ever to stick to one’s personal goals.
At GovLoop’s event Tips for Using Technology to Manage Your Health, attendees heard from three speakers who offered guidance on a variety of health-related topics. Liz Greenlawand Jessica Sandhupresented tips for taking care of one’s body and mind both at home and in the workplace, and Aetna’s Sarah Marbach covered best practices for assessing one’s healthcare provider options and making the most of open season.
Liz Greenlaw kicked things off by introducing the audience to what she termed the four pillars of health and wellness: nutrition, movement, mindset, and the four R’s (rest, recovery, relaxation, rejuvenation). By looking after these, one takes care of their mind and body, and maximizes their energy—the strength and vitality we need to take on our daily tasks.
Greenlaw recommended both food journaling and movement-tracking apps as ways to focus on one’s health and keep a consistent record of progress. She also emphasized the benefits of personalizable health and wellness plans, such as FitBit Coach, that let you adjust your workout or activity level based on your individual needs.
Ultimately, she focused on sleep as the tie that binds all other steps together. She suggested apps (such as f.lux) that block blue light before bedtime and others that track your breathing to wake you up in the right stage of your sleep cycle as ways to maximize the quality of restorative, rejuvenating sleep that you get.
Sarah Marbach followed this up with a very informative presentation on what questions you should be asking as open season approaches and you compare health care providers. The first thing you should look at, she said, was whether a plan fit your needs for the year—if you have any planned procedures, or have a major life event coming such as having a baby or getting married, you want to prioritize plans that will address the needs arising from these developments.
Additionally, she recommends, one should look at things like what discounts (on gym memberships for example) are included in the plan, what features are available on the member website, and whether a plan has out of network coverage. One great resource that she shared with the audience was AetnaFedsLive, a website where federal employees can connect and chat with real Aetna employees who will be able give personalized help and advice.
The final speaker of the event was Jessica Sandhu, who wasted no time in getting the audience moving and stretching. After starting with some simple breathing-based meditation techniques that could easily be done sitting at a desk, she presented two questions to guide the discussion: how can I get more time with myself, and how can I be in control of my health and wellness?
One of the answers she provided was meditation. She recommended an app called Headspace, which offers guided meditation sessions for all experience levels, but also noted that meditating at home or at work can be as simple as setting your phone’s timer and focusing on breathing and emptying your mind for just a few minutes at a time. To give an idea of what this could look like, she wrapped up by leading some guided seated stretches—exactly the kind of thing that one could easily work into their daily office routine.
Looking after one’s well-being in small ways like this may not seem like a lot, but it can be the foundation for a healthier, happier lifestyle—as Sandhu said at the end of her presentation, “You can release the tension from your whole body by just taking a moment for yourself every day.”