Leading a healthy lifestyle is not out of reach. It just requires a few small changes and a shift in mindset to take good care of yourself!
1. Stretch regularly.
Stretching is one of the easiest forms of exercise to start. You do not have to be pushed to your extremes to find success with stretching, since any little movement is beneficial. Stretching increases your mobility and flexibility, but it also helps to boost your energy, increase your balance, and build functional strength. Regardless if you are new to exercise or a professional athlete, adding stretching exercises to your daily routine is the base of a healthy lifestyle.
2. Physical activity.
Humans are not meant to be sedentary creatures. We sit so much that it is negatively impacting our health.
The easiest way to combat that is to simply move more. Stand up every few minutes. Go for a quick walk around your house. Find a type of exercise that you genuinely enjoy.
While healthcare professionals say that ideally, everyone should do a form of cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises, any kind of exercise is better than none. You do not have to go out and start training for a triathlon if that doesn’t appeal to you, but you can find a yoga class, a walking group, or a trampoline boot camp that fits your needs.
3. Eat healthily.
Everyone’s body is different, so everyone’s individual food needs are different, but it is important to get as much of a variety of nutrients and healthy foods as possible. Be sure to eat enough carbohydrates, fats, and proteins during your day. If you have concerns about balancing your diet, consult your doctor or dietitian.
The other component of eating healthy is to enjoy the process of eating. Food can be a social activity, and studies show that people lead happier and longer lives with regular social eating.
This also means allowing yourself little treats, if that is what you want. When you allow yourself to enjoy the piece of chocolate or birthday cake guilt-free, it reduces the risk of shamefully binge-eating. This stems from the Intuitive Eating of approaching food, which has been shown to improve physical and mental health in those who use it.
4. Get enough, high-quality sleep.
It is commonly accepted that the average adult needs about 7-9 hours of sleep a night. There are many fascinating studies that show that regularly sleeping less than this can lead to difficulty regulating emotions, increased physical decline, a higher risk of mental deterioration, and more. By putting an emphasis on getting enough sleep each night, we can increase longevity and improve our quality of life.
Sleep length isn’t the only factor, however. The quality of your sleep during that time also has an impact. To improve sleep hygiene, avoid caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bed. They affect the first and second halves of your sleep, respectively.
Allow yourself to wind down, preferably without screens, about an hour before bed. When you do go to sleep, make sure your sleeping conditions are comfortable and without potential disturbances, such as having your ringer on or your room being too hot.
5. Keep up to date on your appointments.
Most types of health care treatments recommend at least a yearly check-up. When you allow your dentist, optometrist, or doctor to regularly check in on you, you are more likely to find health concerns before they arise or when they are treatable. By taking a proactive stance for a healthy lifestyle, your overall quality and enjoyment of life will be higher.
This includes talking to someone about the state of your mental health. Find a licensed therapist or counselor that aligns with your values to help you process your emotions and thoughts, even before they impact your daily life. Mental illness may not be visible, but it plays a big impact on your overall health.
6. Socialize regularly as a part of a healthy lifestyle.
Humans are social creatures, so it’s important to interact with your loved ones as much as you can. Be it to go out for coffee or for a walk when it’s safe to do so or even have a quick phone call. Regular social interactions are good for your mental health.
An element of longevity is regular social bonding, as shown in the “Blue Zones” around the world. In these locations, families regularly live, work, and play together, promoting better health overall.
7. Keep learning.
One of the best ways to prevent dementia is by keeping your mind active and engaged. Reading, playing games like Sudoku, and taking a course are all great methods of challenging your brain. Additionally, regularly engaging in new experiences allows new neural pathways to be formed- and that can be as simple as trying something new at a restaurant or walking down a different path!
8. Set goals to challenge yourself and push beyond your limits.
Goal setting doesn’t have to be limited to New Year’s resolutions. Whenever you think of a specific goal you want to create a healthier lifestyle, break it down, write it out, and create a plan for success.
Achievable goals can be big or small, and it’s important to find the happy medium between challenging yourself and pushing too hard. If you’re new to setting goals, start with a bite-sized task, such as drinking a cup of water once you wake up, for three days in a row. As you grow, begin to challenge yourself and encourage change. This could mean making an effort to support a new local business each week or planning to run a marathon- the possibilities are truly endless!
9. Discover what brings you joy.
Do you like writing in coffee shops? Does a hike through the mountains make you feel alive? Maybe you enjoy doodling as you watch tv or baking cookies for the neighbourhood kids. Whatever you feel happiest doing, make an effort to do it regularly.
Part of a strong, healthy lifestyle is to find peace and enjoyment, which helps to improve your mental health. If you’re not sure what you like to do, allow yourself to explore various hobbies and activities.
Find if there are any local or virtual classes that appeal to you. Talk to your friends about their favourite activities and see if they’re willing to let you join in. Even think back to your childhood, as to if there were any positive memories that stick out to you.
10. Spend some time cleaning.
Even if cleaning isn’t your favourite activity, it is good for both your mental and physical health when done regularly.
If you genuinely love cleaning, dedicate a solid hour or day to tidying up, or even offer to help a friend for a chance to socialize.
If you don’t like cleaning, put on your favourite music and set a timer for ten minutes. It is a manageable time frame, and you’ll be able to see your floor again or have most of the dishes finished. Once you’ve started, you might even find yourself cleaning past the ten minutes.
11. Improve your financial literacy.
Understanding finances can be a long journey, but it is a great step towards a healthy lifestyle. There are several books out there, such as the ones written by Dave Ramsey, and financial advisors at your bank will often be able to provide help free of charge.
The best way to get started is to first look at everything you have. Categorize your monthly spending into groups that make sense to you, confirm what your monthly income is, what your savings are and understand any debts you have. While this may be overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Once you have an understanding of what your money situation looks like, it will be easier to reduce unnecessary spending and allow you to focus on making good financial decisions.
12. Reduce time on social media.
The average time spent on social media around the world is 145 minutes a day. Social media is designed to be addicting and to keep you scrolling, and it only heightens our fear of missing out. When we see a friend getting married or travelling or getting that new job, we can feel lesser for not accomplishing the same things along a similar timeline.
By regularly allowing yourself to spend time away from social media, your mental health will improve, and anxiety and depression can lighten. It allows yourself to truly enjoy your life and to take it at your own pace, instead of comparing yourself to others.
13. Be kind- to others, but also to yourself.
Being kind to others is actually proven to make you happier, by providing you with little bursts of oxytocin. This helps to mitigate depression and anxiety, and boost your mood after you commit a small act of kindness. It could come from something as little as smiling at a stranger or from taking the time to volunteer at a soup kitchen.
The only caution with being kind to others is to make sure you are taking care of yourself first. It is easy to get caught in the cycle of focusing on others, but take some time to make sure that you are feeling okay and rested before helping others.
Written by Kayla Willsey