“Health is not valued till sickness comes in.” — Thomas Fuller
Health is an important part of life that many of us take for granted. When we’re healthy, we don’t pay attention to how we feel. Only when we fall ill do we usually think about making healthy choices.
But to enjoy good health overall, we need to develop healthy habits that will help put us on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
We know what you’re thinking — it’s hard to make changes, and there’s not enough time to think about making healthy choices. In this fast-paced world, convenience takes precedence over health.
However, the hardest part of getting healthy is just deciding to start. A healthy lifestyle isn’t hard to attain. Once you’ve decided to get on the path to get healthy, there are simple changes you can make to improve your long-term health.
We’ve broken down these healthy habits into big categories for you to follow. Remember, better health doesn’t just mean trying to lose weight. It’s more about building your immune system’s strength, using food as the fuel and medicine for your body, taking care of your heart, and feeling good physically and mentally.
Make a few of these simple choices on a regular basis and you’ll be amazed to find yourself living a healthier overall life.
Some of the simplest healthy choices you can make are with food. We get almost all of our nutrition from food. Food provides us with energy, protein, essential fats, and vitamins that we need to live.
When we disregard the importance of picking healthy foods for nutrition, we run into health problems like coronary heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and more.
It’s vital to have a balanced diet, but how do you do it?
1. Indulge In Fruits and Veggies
Fruit is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals essential to a healthy lifestyle. Fruits are also great sources of antioxidants and fight against inflammation in your body. Add more fruit into your diet by slicing up a banana with your oatmeal and taking oranges with you to snack on at work.
Just like fruits, vegetables are packed with nutrients that help your body run. Even better, vegetables contain fewer calories, carbs, and sugar than fruit.
Calories and carbs aren’t bad for you, but most of us simply don’t use up enough of what we intake.
Vegetables are also low in fat, which helps with cholesterol control, lowering the risk of heart disease. Plus, veggies, like fruit, are high in fiber, helping your digestive system move the food along.
These health benefits from veggies and fruits are big reasons why you’ll experience weight loss when you add more to your diet.
Despite the high nutritional value of vegetables, only 9 percent of Americans eat enough of them.
It’s not hard to pick up these eating habits. Opt for a side salad instead of fries at lunch, add more roasted veggies with your dinner, or choose celery and carrots as healthy snacks for your workday. Start small and once you get a feel for which veggies you prefer, increase your intake.
2. Eat Fish
Another highly nutritious food is fatty fish. Most types of fish are generally good for you — they are high in nutrients like protein, iodine, and other vitamins.
But fatty types of fish like salmon and trout are even better. They contain omega–3 fatty acids that are crucial for body and brain functionality and development. These acids also decrease the risk of many diseases, including heart disease. In fact, research has shown that eating one to two 3-ounce servings of fish reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent.
Yet once again, few Americans (only a third of the population) choose fish as their primary meal.
Don’t miss out on the health benefits of a fish-friendly diet. When you’re considering your next meal, try the salmon!
3. Choose Smaller Meals
As mentioned, we often take in too many calories without using them up. One simple way to combat this is to eat from a smaller plate.
One study found that people who ate from larger bowls ate 56 percent more food than those who ate from smaller bowls. It’s a Jedi mind trick that works. You’ll feel like you ate until satisfied but won’t overstuff yourself.
If you’re interested in weight loss, this is a great trick. But most importantly, try not to overeat. When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re full, stop.
4. Drink More Water
Water is essential to life. Most of us have heard the recommendation to drink eight glasses per day. That rule doesn’t have specific scientific backing but it does bring attention to the fact that we should drink enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Water affects our energy levels and brain function. In one study, a group of healthy young women incurred headaches and losses in concentration when dehydrated. Another study showed that lack of water can also increase feelings of anxiety and fatigue in young men.
How can we add more H2O in our day?
One easy way is to have a full glass of water with each meal. Replace soda or juice with water for your drink. Another way is to bring your own water bottle to work and leave it at your desk. Seeing it on your desk can serve as a visual reminder to stop and take a sip!
1. Add Exercise Into Your Routine
This might seem like the most daunting task on our healthy to-do list. But there are small, easy ways to start incorporating more exercise into your everyday routine without having to get a gym membership.
One easy change to your routine is taking the stairs instead of the elevator. A surprising study showed that people who opted for stairs had a 33 percent lower risk of death from stroke.
Another simple exercise you can add to your routine? Going for a walk. Harvard Health reports that walking can counteract the effects of weight-promoting genes, reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 14 percent, ease joint pain, and boost your immune system.
It’s good for your mental health as well. One study showed that participants who walked for 30 minutes during their lunch break came back to work with improved mood and less anxiety.
So add in a 30-minute session of walking around the block for a simple way to get healthy.
2. Try Yoga
If you want to upgrade your form of exercise without getting too intense, try yoga. There are many types of yoga from the beginning classes of gentle stretching to faster-paced flow sessions that will have you sweating.
Yoga is a great practice because it makes you check in with your body — practitioners report a greater body awareness after sessions of yoga.
3. Make Time for Meditation
Yoga is a form of meditation in motion. But if you really want to improve your overall health, try incorporating a mental workout: meditation.
Meditation is a mental workout that helps reconnect mind and body. It’s a practice that has been used to increase calm, activate the relaxation response, and improve emotional balance.
There are numerous studies that have shown that meditation:
- Helps alleviate anxiety, mood disturbance, chronic pain, and improve the quality of life for cancer patients
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces the intensity of menopausal symptoms
- Provides relief from anxiety symptoms
The great thing about meditation is you don’t need much to start practicing it. All you need is yourself and a place where you can find quiet.
Ready to start? Check out a few of our guides for meditation:
- Beginner’s Tutorial for Guided Meditations
- Top Meditation for Relaxation
- Meditation for Pain Reduction
- Stress Meditations to Try
- Mindfulness Meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh
1. Get Sleep
Sleep, like water, is vital to our lives. Yet many of us can’t seem to get the amount we need.
As a nation, we are suffering from poor sleep quality and the inability to fall asleep.
Sleep helps us reset our mind and gives our body a chance to rest. Without a proper amount of sleep, we open ourselves up to an onslaught of chronic illnesses.
There are a few easy ways to train your mind and body to get to sleep.
One way is to disconnect from electronics at least one hour before bed. The blue light emitted from our tech screens mimics daylight, which tricks your body into thinking it should still be awake.
Another way is to create an environment for sleep. Calming scents, a cool room temperature, and darkness will all aid your quest to dreamland.
To help activate that relaxation response, you can also try meditation before bed. It helps to get rid of anxious thoughts and let go of any tensions in your muscles.
2. Breathe In Mindfulness
Feeling stressed all the time is not healthy. Holding in all that tension from the fight or flight response takes away resources from our other processes.
That’s where deep breathing and mindfulness comes in.
Taking a deep breath is a great way to reset that survival response and let your body know that you’re not in any physical danger.
Breathing alters your state of mind, which in turn causes a positive chain reaction throughout the rest of your body.
There are a few different types of breathing exercises, but deep breathing is simply about bringing mindfulness to your breath.
If you can find a few minutes (and a quiet space) to focus on your inhale and exhale, you’ll find yourself feeling a little better already.
The more you can incorporate a moment of mindful breathing into your daily routine, the better.
Need a nudge to get started? Let the Spire Stone send you a quick reminder to breathe mindfully before you get too stressed out to think.
You’ve started the journey to a healthier lifestyle, but how will you maintain it? Your mindset is a key part in keeping those healthier habits going.
1. Express Gratitude
Though Thanksgiving comes once a year, expressing thanks is a practice that we can all benefit from year round.
Gratitude teaches us to take into stock the present moment, helps us be a little introspective, and launches us on the path of happiness.
2. Think Positively
Positive thinking has a pretty big impact on your health.
Neuropeptides, which are in charge of delivering almost every signal in your brain, are affected by the negative hormones that are released during stressful or anxious moments.
So shift your thinking and try to find the joy in each moment.
3. Be Easy on Yourself
As you start your path towards good health, remember to treat yourself with the lack of judgment you would for a friend. These tips may be simple but they are still forward motion in your daily routine.
If you mess up or need lots of time to do any of these tips, don’t worry about it too much. The important thing to remember is that you are doing this for a reason: to be the healthiest version of yourself for a more fulfilled life.
Let that thought guide you and embrace the new discoveries you make on this road to health.