National Wellness Month with Joan Lunden

One of the most wonderful aspects of spending my life on camera has been the connection that I have with my audience. From Good Morning America to my current PBS program Second Opinion with Joan Lunden, I connect with women across America who turn to me for advice on their health, raising kids and how to age gracefully. It’s a job I take seriously. I leverage my access to leading health experts, as well as my own experiences, to help keep viewers informed on health and wellness issues. Through engaging with my viewers on social media and hearing what they face as they enter each decade, I’m endlessly inspired to research & share solutions.

August is National Wellness Month, so I’ve partnered with my friends at INNOVO to share the 3 things I’m doing right now to stay “well.”

HYDRATION

First up, hydration. I know, I know, we all know that drinking water is important but…it’s hard!  My hack? My fitness instructor once gave me eight plastic bracelets to put on one arm. Each time I drank a glass of water I’d move one to the other arm. This really worked for me.

My daughter Jamie is a wellness expert, and she also has a hydration trick that helps her. She likens her water intake to any other important medication and schedules her hydration four times in a day. Jamie will even set alarms to remind her that it’s hydration time. When her alarm sounds, she stops what she’s doing and drinks an allotted amount…almost like a quick little chore.

If you’re not getting enough hydration, what hacks might work for you? Whether it’s the bracelet trick or setting yourself reminders, getting enough water each day is essential for our body’s wellness.

Of course, the only issue with sufficient hydration is that it may leave you running to the potty… but that’s what INNOVO is for… to make sure you can hold it until you get there!

SLEEP

As you hit perimenopause and menopause it can become much harder to go to sleep. I have struggled for years.

When I was on Good Morning America, my 3:15am wake-up call never afforded me the luxury of watching prime time TV.  Since leaving the early morning schedule behind, I’ve come to relish my freedom to stay up at night and enjoy my favorite shows. I can now watch all the Law & Order my little heart desires! What that turned into, however, was the “one more episode” syndrome… where I’d find myself awake at 1am.

Sleep = wellness! Unfortunately, you can’t “cheat it” by drinking caffeine. Artificial “awakeness” is not an answer, just a temporary short-term fix … and one that can trigger stress urinary incontinence (I write about this in my book Why Did I Come into This Room: A Candid Conversation About Aging in the chapter titled: Sometimes I Laugh So Hard, Tears Run Down My Leg.)

These days, I work hard at having good “sleep hygiene.” My rule is once evening TV shows conclude at 11pm, I turn off the TV and turn on a sleep meditation. My personal favorites are from Calm, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard one in full because I always fall asleep.

Of course, my last piece of sleep advice is to empty your bladder before getting into bed. There’s nothing worse than being awakened in the middle of the night because your bladder decides to remind you “hi, I’m here!”  

Lack of sleep is incredibly detrimental to not only your mental acuity but also your ability to maintain a healthy weight… another possible trigger for stress urinary incontinence.

CALM

I remember when I had my older girls with me on a vacation in the Caribbean and I told them we were taking a boat to a secluded island to have a beach picnic. They grabbed their Walkmans so they could listen to music.

I explained to them that the boat wouldn’t go all the way to the shore and we’d be wading through the water to get to the beach, so they couldn’t bring electronics.

“But what are we going to do? they asked. “We’ll be bored!”

I said: “That’s the point.”

Kids today are even more addicted to their electronics and it’s something us grown-ups often gripe about… but the reality is, it’s taken me 71 years to truly embrace the amazing benefit of pure relaxation.

My whole life and career had me “running,” and when I wasn’t running, I felt guilty because I felt like I was being lazy. That causes the stress hormone cortisol to be released, which is detrimental to your health.

If you are relaxing, let yourself relax. It’s a skill to be practiced.