Having a healthy lifestyle seems like hard work. With so many diets to follow, supplements to take and workout regimes to incorporate into your everyday life, it all gets a bit confusing, right? Well, it doesn’t have to. And it shouldn’t.
From drinking more water to getting enough sleep, there is a wide range of simple ways to have a healthy lifestyle. Here’s what you should be factoring into your daily life for optimal health and happiness. It’s easy, we promise.
1. Drink more water
There are varying opinions on how much water we should be drinking every day. One thing everyone agrees on, though, is that water is the healthiest option when it comes to quenching our thirst and we should ensure we’re sipping the clear stuff throughout the day to feel the health benefits.
These benefits include better brain function, clearer skin from hydration and better energy levels. Studies have also found that water might help us maintain a healthy weight and prevent health problems such as kidney stones and even cancer.
The general thinking is that we should be glugging back about two litres of H20 a day, or half a gallon. So, instead of reaching for that next coffee or sugary drink, have a glass of water instead!
2. Eat more fruit and veggies
It sounds obvious, but how many of us are really eating enough fruit and vegetables each day? We grew up with the notion that we should be eating five combined pieces of fruit and veggies a day, but more recent reports suggest that this is a minimum.
So why is it so important to eat healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables? Well, they’re packed full of vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin C and potassium. They’re a great source of dietary fibre, which helps maintain a healthy gut, and they can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and some chronic diseases.
What are you waiting for? Go for green!
3. Be more active
It’s not just healthy eating that’s key to a healthy lifestyle. Another seemingly obvious factor, but something so many of us have a habit of neglecting, is being more active.
Sure, there are those among us who manage to not only keep up a strict gym regime when it’s a new year, but all year round (guys, we salute you!). But many of us have to push ourselves to get to that pilates class after a long day of meetings and deadlines, or to go for that Sunday morning run when having an extra hour in bed feels so much more tempting.
Remind yourself to get moving and you’ll be sure to feel the health benefits of increased physical activity in no time.
4. Get less screen time
This is something the majority of us are guilty of. Whether it’s sitting at our work desks staring at our computer screens all day or spending our morning and evening commute scrolling on our mobile phones, we could all do with a little less screen time.
Getting less screen time will not only have benefits for your eyes, but for your brain, too. Neuroimaging research shows that excessive screen time damages the brain, as well as increases the chance of sleep issues such as insomnia.
Work out how much time per day you spend staring at a screen, whether it’s your phone, computer or television. Figure out ways you can cut this down – your eyes and mind will thank you for it.
5. Make time to socialise
We all know how much better we feel when we socialise. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted by nature, chances are spending time with friends and family – even if just one-on-one – will lift your spirits and leave you in a good mood.
Well, according to research, the benefits of socialising go further than that. Studies have found that an active and socially-integrated lifestyle might even protect against dementia. And, according to Psychology Today, having an active social life could even help you live longer.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick up that phone and make some plans!
6. Choose healthier snacks
We all get those hunger pangs between meals, and there’s nothing wrong with satisfying them from time to time. What is important, though, is to avoid reaching for snacks that are high in salt and sugar. These types of foods will raise your blood pressure and lead to weight gain.
A healthy diet is made up of a variety of foods, so by choosing healthier snacks you’ll be increasing your intake of important vitamins and minerals. For instance, a handful of unsalted nuts will give you protein, magnesium, fibre and more – while tasting delicious.
Craving something sweet? A juicy piece of fruit such as a peach, mango or berries will do the trick. You’ll get all the vitamin C you need without all the nasty stuff found in junk food.
7. Drink less alcohol
This is one we all know we should be doing but many of us choose to ignore. For many of us, winding down with a glass of wine after a long day is a no-brainer! But of course we’re often overlooking the many health issues drinking alcohol brings with it.
We’re not saying you have to give up the sauce completely (although we take our hats off to anyone who does!), but have you ever thought about cutting back? If you’re someone who has a drink every day, perhaps try having a couple of days off. Or even better, stop drinking during the week and just treat yourself to a glass or two on the weekend.
From improved mental health and increased energy to a healthier appearance and better long-term physical health, drinking less alcohol is a great way of living a healthier lifestyle.
8. Get outside
The benefits of getting out into the Great Outdoors are not to be underestimated. Whether it’s trekking out into the bush or simply walking through the park during your lunch break, nature plays a huge part in helping us live a healthy lifestyle.
Studies have found that short-term memory is improved 20% by walking in nature. Others have found it has a de-stressing effect, with students being sent into the forest for two nights leaving with lower levels of cortisol – a hormone often used as a marker for stress – than those who spent the same time in the city.
If you’re stressed, feeling down or simply having a bad day, try and find the time to get outside. You’ll be amazed at how good it’ll make you feel.
9. Think positive
Are you someone who sees the glass half full or empty? Sometimes, the key to reducing stress and living a happier and healthier life is as simple as positive thinking. Well, it would be simple if positive thinking was always that easy!
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk, and the more optimistic of us need less of this. If, however, you fall more on the pessimistic side of the spectrum, you might need to practise positive thinking a little harder.
From lower rates of depression to better coping skills during hardships and times of stress, positive thinking is a powerful thing!
10. Practise mindfulness
In simplest terms, mindfulness is the act of being fully present. A blissful state of mind that can be achieved through many proven techniques such as meditation, yoga or jogging, mindfulness is when your mind manages to tune out what’s happening around you and focuses on the moment.
Whether it’s reducing anxiety, improving your sleep or lowering your blood pressure, mindfulness has a range of benefits that make it a much sought after state of being. Factor the practice of mindfulness into your daily routine and notice how different you’ll instantly feel.
11. Get enough sleep
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of all to living a healthy lifestyle, it’s crucial to get enough sleep each night. Most adults need at least seven to eight hours of good quality sleep to help us function at our optimal capacity – no wonder we all feel so cranky after a bad night’s sleep and are only able to get through the day with coffee!
Getting enough sleep will not only make you feel good, but also has a wide-ranging list of other health benefits. From improving your memory and spurring creativity to sharpening your attention and helping you maintain a healthy weight, the reasons for getting a good night’s kip are truly endless.
Go on, hit that snooze button again. You know you want to.