Five Wellness Habits that Can Change the Trajectory of Young Adults

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Young adults are feeling increased pressure to succeed, all while navigating the stressors of college and career, the increased cost of living, and dealing with the effects of COVID on the current economy. Statistics show that young adults are having a difficult time learning to cope with stress. Research done in the UK uncovered that 60% of young adults ages 18-24 feel unable to cope due to the pressure to succeed. It also found that 39% of young adults have experienced suicidal feelings as a result of stress. Further, WebMD recently reported that the average American gains 17 pounds from their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. Now, more than ever, young adults are finding themselves in need of wellness habits to combat stress and change the trajectory of their life. 

Stress has a major effect on young adults since they are often not getting the rest and rejuvenation that they need to tackle life’s pressures. To cope, young adults often turn to alcohol, drugs, technology, social media, or food. Unfortunately, these habits provide short-term relief only. Adopting new wellness habits can change the trajectory of young adults and produce the long-term relief they are looking for. 

Young adulthood is the ideal time to adopt wellness-focused habits because a young adult’s brain is not fully developed. Once our brains are fully developed, habits become much more difficult to add, subtract, or change. Not impossible, but more difficult. This is one reason why Skyterra Embrace focuses on the population ages 18-29. We want to help instill the habits that can bring young adults lifelong change.

When our habits are centered around wellness, we can reduce stress, boost the immune system, and improve health holistically. At Skyterra Embrace, we have seen five all-encompassing wellness habits change the trajectory of the young adults that join our program, and we want to share them with you today:

1. Establishing a Stress Management Plan

We have learned that, no matter what life looks like, we cannot get away from stress entirely. There are and probably always will be many stressors in our daily lives. What we have found is that it is not the stress that affects us the most, but how we respond to stress. Unless we create awareness, young adults tend to react to stress automatically. 

Common stress reactions include the fight or flight response. This can be very useful to us but is often not needed. Excess stimulation of the fight or flight response can lead to a dysregulated stress response and an inability to turn “on” or turn “off”. Thus, leading to increased vulnerability to illness, mood disorders, and/or weight gain. 

It is essential to gain awareness of how to manage stress and change a dysregulated stress response. Mindfulness, self-care, and healthy coping skills can all be a part of your stress management plan. These tools help you stay calm enough to choose an intentional response to stress, instead of an automatic reaction. 

Self Care and Stress Management is one of the pillars at Skyterra Embrace. Every student works individually with a therapist to create awareness and change unhelpful stress reactions. The students also attend many classes on habit formation and habit change. All students leave Embrace with a well-thought-through “Home Plan” to tackle stress management in the new ways they’ve been taught.  We have seen that having this plan helps young adults gain awareness of their stress reactions and leave Skyterra with a new, intentional, stress response. This wellness habit of creating a stress management plan can truly change the trajectory of young adults. 

2. Adopting a Fitness Routine that is Right for You

Establishing a fitness routine can help young adults lower their stress levels. The benefits of physical activity are endless. According to the World Health Organization, exercise contributes to reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety and reduced risk of disease. Further, it contributes to increased cognitive abilities and improved overall well-being. Physical activity is a great way to manage stress, and care for your body. 

Unfortunately, most young adults are lacking in physical activity. The CDC recently reported that only 23.2% of adults ages 18 or over actually meet the Physical Activity guidelines. Young adults often feel hesitant to go to the gym or start a fitness routine. They may not know how to use equipment and feel intimidated by others. Having a fitness routine does not mean you have to stay in the gym for hours. We strongly believe that there is a fitness routine that works for everyone, and we are dedicated to helping you find it.

At Skyterra Embrace, students participate in exercise based on our movement model, which includes cardio, strength, movement, and mobility. Our fitness specialist has weekly private sessions with each student to ensure they find the fitness routine that they feel comfortable with and that they know how to use all of the equipment they will need. Every student leaves Embrace with a solid fitness plan for when they return home.

Fitness and Mobility is an important pillar of the Skyterra Embrace program, and we have seen it change the trajectory of young adults. Specifically, we have seen it replace unhealthy coping skills that only provide short-term benefits. Creating the wellness habit of adopting a fitness routine that works for you can change the trajectory of young adults by providing them with increased health, increased mood, and long-term, effective coping skills.

3. Slowing Down with Mindfulness and a Yoga Practice

Young adults are constantly on the go. They have never-ending pressures that can be difficult to keep up with! Stress and busyness are a part of everyday life, so adopting a wellness habit of slowing down with mindfulness and yoga is essential for young adults. 

There are many benefits of mindfulness and yoga. Most specifically in the realm of stress management and mental health. Studies have shown that mindfulness-based approaches to anxiety and depression are equally as effective as regular psychotherapy. 

Further, research has shown that people who practice yoga have lower cortisol levels than people who do not. When cortisol levels are constantly high, it is a sign of the dysregulated stress response that we discussed above. Having balanced cortisol levels can help you manage stress more effectively. Apart from stress management, yoga has also been shown to aid in managing anxiety, depression, pain, illness, brain health, and heart health. 

At Skyterra Embrace, mindfulness is a part of our daily schedule. At our signature Connect class, students start the day off with deep breaths, mobility work, and light stretching to tune into their bodies and center themselves. Students also participate in weekly mindfulness and yoga classes led by our yoga specialist. Our clinical team includes mindfulness as one of their therapeutic approaches with students. With Mindfulness and Yoga as a pillar of the Skyterra Embrace program, we place a high value on helping students create this wellness habit and we have seen it change the trajectory for these young adults.

4. Getting in Nature and Cultivating Adventure

Exposure to nature is another wellness habit that can change the trajectory of young adults. A recent study found that spending 120 minutes in nature per week is associated with increased health and overall well-being. A recent article from Yale University states that there is a growing body of evidence that shows nature is helpful for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and generating healing. It has even been shown to decrease aggression and crime, and increase community cohesion. 

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the day, and surrounding yourself with nature brings a felt sense of peace and calm. There’s a reason we call it “Mother Nature”. Nature can nurture your soul. Any little bit counts! Some ways busy young adults can get into nature are:

  • Go on a walk in a park
  • Go on a weekend hike
  • Sit/lay under a tree. Bring your book, journal, or a friend!

The students at Skyterra Embrace experience nature daily. With our campus immersed in the mountains of Western North Carolina, students are constantly experiencing beautiful views filled with nature. There are 150 waterfalls within a 20-mile radius of campus. Our students get off campus and explore these waterfalls, along with many other nature inspired excursions multiple times throughout the week. With Recreation and Adventure being a pillar of the Skyterra Embrace Program, it is our hope that not only do our students experience the healing benefits of nature, but they adopt the wellness habit of getting into nature to continue exploring the outdoors when they return home. 

5. Nourishing Yourself and Developing Confidence in the Kitchen

Most young adults struggle to properly nourish themselves. It is not for lack of desire, but rather lack of education on how to manage nutrition as a young adult. Managing our nutrition as adults includes knowing what to eat, and knowing how to prepare it! Most young adults are up late which often leads to late-night snacking or hitting the drive-through. A recent report by the CDC stated that 44.9% of young adults eat fast food daily.

It all starts in the kitchen. Many young adults have never learned proper culinary skills. Knowing how to make the food that nourishes you is essential! Make it fun by attending cooking classes with your friends. You can also host a “dinner party” or make cooking your own food enticing by having a potluck instead of going out to eat. Get creative, and be nourished! Working with a Registered Dietician to find out how to properly fuel your body could also be very beneficial. 

Culinary and Nutrition is a pillar of the Skyterra Embrace program. Our dietician works directly with students on how to nourish and fuel their bodies. She helps each student plan doable meals based off of our signature Skyterra Plate. Our chef works directly with our dietician to create nourishing meals for the students. Most of the students that leave Embrace report that the cooking demos with our chef were some of their favorite classes!

 It is not just about knowing what to eat, and knowing how to cook, but also about keeping the kitchen and other important spaces organized and clean. The students at Embrace form the habit of cleaning out and organizing the kitchen every week, along with washing dishes daily as part of their chores. It is our hope that students leave Embrace equipped with a well-rounded wellness habit of nourishing themselves.

As part of the Skyterra Embrace program, students actively participate in each of these habits daily. We have seen these wellness habits change the trajectory of young adults, and we hope they will for you too.

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