We all want to be healthier. Whether it’s getting rid of the the ache in your back, losing weight, or being happier, we all have goals we’re aiming for. It can be a challenge, though, to know where to begin. There are so many moving parts to overall health: diet, exercise, when to eat, products to avoid… it can get overwhelming. My best piece of advice is to start slow. Take it easy on yourself! Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting a goal of looking like Scarlett Johansson in three months when you’ve been sitting on the couch merely watching marvel movies since January. Pick smaller goals you know you can achieve, and build upon them from there. If you build habits that will set you up for success from the beginning, then you’ll be healthier in the end no matter what obstacles you come across. With that in mind, here are five things you can do right now to be healthier to get yourself started.
1. Stay Hydrated
We all know that our bodies are composed of over 70% water. So just imagine what stress your body goes through when you start drying out. I like to keep a glass on my desk at work, and as soon as it’s drained, I go fill it back up so I always have water within arms reach. Drinking water has a number of benefits. If you’re drinking water, that probably means you’re not drinking other go-to beverages that have a negative impact on overall health (*cough cough* soda). And while we’re on the topic of staying hydrated to avoid consuming things you don’t need, drinking water will help you to avoid over-eating. That’s because your body often registers thirst as hunger. So next time you want to grab a snack, go for a glass of water instead. Staying hydrated also keeps your metabolism working as it should, which means you’ll have an easier time burning fat. If weight loss is a goal of yours, then drinking enough water is key. And of course, staying hydrated is the number one way to improve skin quality, both in texture and clarity. So seriously, go drink a glass of water! Like, right now. This article will still be here when you get back.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation is one of the the most common conditions that plagues humanity. And yes, I call it a plague. The effects of not getting enough Zs are multitudinous. Without writing a novel, here are a few of them: depressed immune system, impaired memory and brain health, de-stabilized hormones, lower metabolism, and increased chance of mood disorders. If that’s not enough reason to go to bed earlier, I don’t know what is. If you need help falling asleep, there are a few tricks you can use. Decrease the temptation to stay up late watching YouTube by keeping your bedroom a sacred place for rest. Phones and computers should not live next to your head while you sleep. You can also set a timer on your devices to switch your screen to emitting more red light that blue. Shining blue light from a screen past sunset can disrupt your circadian cycle and keep your mind restless by tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Creating a bedtime ritual and sticking to it will help to signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Try making yourself a cup of chamomile tea and reading a chapter of a book before snuggling under the covers. That always sends me straight to dreamland.
3. Pick Fruits and Vegetables as a Snack
When those afternoon cravings hit you, what’s the first thing you reach for? For many of us, it’s something sweet and packed with simple carbohydrates, like a cookie, a granola bar, chips. And it makes sense! Our bodies are designed to crave fast-absorbing big sources of energy, because if we were living in the wild as hunters and gathers, these would be few and far between. However, these types of snacks are usually low in nutrition, which means you’re going to end up just as hungry and craving just as much as before you ate that cupcake. Lucky for you, it’s easy to find a healthier choice that’s still sweet that will nourish your body: fruit! Repeat after me. Fruit is fast food. Think about it. Do you need to do anything to an apple before you eat it? Fast Food. One of my favorite snacks is a sliced up apple with a tablespoon or two of peanut butter. The additional fat and protein from the nut butter paired with the slow-digesting complex carbohydrates of the apple keep me fueled up and full.
4. Exercise your mind
The human brain has an immense capacity for critical thinking, creativity, and memory. Sadly, it’s easy to fall into the hum-drum of a regular routine and not let your brain flex it’s muscles, so to speak. And it’s easier than ever to go on autopilot with so many screens surrounding us every day. Not only is this mentally draining (at least for me, it is), but it’s also dangerous. A life-long study was done of two groups of people. The first group had genetic markers putting them at risk for alzheimer’s disease, but they watched no or very little television. The second group had no genetic propensity for alzheimer’s, but they watched television every day. And sure enough, the group that regularly watched television had a higher rate of brain degeneration. The moral of the story is, keeping your brain active throughout your life is going to extend the longevity of your mind. Pick up a book rather than turning on the t.v. Keep a poem in your pocket and memorize it on your breaks. Set a challenge to learn a new hobby every month. Not only will you keep your mind healthy, but you’ll impress everybody with your arsenal of skills and literature waiting on the tip of your tongue!
5. Focus on two good things at the end of the day
There’s more to all-around health than just exercise and diet. Your emotional well-being can benefit from a bit of upkeep too. Some days are harder than others, and I’ve been through my share of struggles, but I’ve noticed that there’s always something good to be found somewhere. It’s often right in front of you, if you care to look. So every day, remind yourself of these little things, and soon eventually, you’ll learn to see them as they’re happening. It can be anything at all, big or small. You heard a beautiful songbird that wasn’t there yesterday (spring must be starting!). A stranger smiled at you and complimented your shoes. The sun decided to come out on your lunch break. Your morning latte brought the same familiar warmth you find so comforting. These little moments are just as important as the big ones. Remind yourself of just two good things each day, and you’ll notice that eventually, a few small little good things add up to one big happy experience.
These tips and tricks are some of my favorite ways to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit, whether it’s giving myself a boost or just maintaining something I’ve already been working on. I hope they work for you, too! Let me know what other easy little things you like to do to keep yourself happy and healthy!