Healthy habits aren’t just for January, just in the same way a dog isn’t just for Christmas. The first month of the year might have seen you start a fitness regime, set some goals and write down your manifestations for the year, but suddenly April rolls around (scary, we know!) and you find yourself slipping back into those old habits. It doesn’t need to be that way though…
Prioritising your health and wellbeing is something that should come into play every day. The best way to do this is to take small steps that you know are achievable for you. The most effective health and wellbeing tips should be implemented into your routine gradually, as this will allow you to form healthy habits at your own pace.
We all want to wake up feeling healthy and happy, and often this comes from the combination of feeling good on the inside and out. In short, we need to take care of both our mental and physical health.
That’s why, this World Health Day, we’re putting together a list of five simple steps you can take to improve your health and wellbeing.
1. GET MORE ACTIVE
This won’t be the first - nor the last - time you’ve heard us say this, but exercising regularly can work wonders for your health and wellbeing. Physical activity is known to benefit your heart and lung health, your mood, energy levels, and sleep, as well as reduce the risk of injury, disease and stress.
As humans, we’re meant to move - and unfortunately, the increasingly sedentary lifestyles we live isn’t doing our health any favours. Exercising releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemicals of the brain, which is why you feel a runner’s high, or pumped after a lifting session.
And while we could go on forever listing the benefits of exercising regularly, we understand it can be a difficult habit for people to maintain. That’s why it’s much more effective to add exercise to your routine gradually, so that it becomes part of your lifestyle, rather than just a phase.
Whatever your fitness goals look like, you want to make them manageable for you. Any movement will get your blood flowing to your brain, so if you’re not in the mood for a whole spin class, you can absolutely just go for a walk while catching up on your favourite podcast.
2. EAT WELL
Fuelling your body with healthy, nutrient-rich food will improve your health and wellbeing in a multitude of ways. Why? Because a healthy diet supports your bodily functions, immune system, mood, ability to recover and energy levels.
Okay, so we’ve covered the ‘why’, but what about the ‘how’? There are a number of factors that can make it difficult to enjoy a nutrient-dense, whole-food-rich diet, including health issues, money, accessibility and convenience. But we’ve got some top tips to make it easier for you to eat healthy, when and where you can:
- Meal prep - this saves time, is cost-effective, and is great for tracking, as you can manage your portion sizes more easily.
- Buy frozen fruit and veg - not only will this cut costs, but frozen fruit and veg are also frozen at the time of maximum nutrient density meaning this is often a more reliable option than fresh produce.
- Plan your food shop - before you head to the shops, plan what meals you want for the week and only buy the ingredients you need for these specific recipes. This can help to save time, keep you on track and reduce your final bill.
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Don’t forget to keep your H2O intake topped up! Seriously, your tired brain and body will thank you. Each day, aim to drink six to eight glasses of water.
3. PRIORITISE REST & RECOVERY
A stress-free life starts with restful sleep. However, even with this knowledge, sleep is often one of the healthy habits that gets shifted down the priority list. We’re here to tell you that you cannot underestimate the power of rest.
Physical rest is one of the seven types of rest our bodies need for full restoration. Physical rest is composed of both active and passive elements. Passive physical rest is when you let your body completely switch off, such as when you’re asleep or napping. Active physical rest is when you take restoration into your own hands through stretching, low-impact activities, like yoga or pilates, or any sort of massage therapy.
A good night’s sleep is crucial to your gains too, as quality sleep is associated with muscle growth and recovery. Muscle recovery is increased through protein synthesis which occurs when you sleep the recommended seven to nine hours a night. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is especially important to muscle repair as it’s during this type of sleep when your body releases the growth hormone that aids muscle recovery.
4. SET BOUNDARIES
This can look different for everyone! It might mean turning off your phone at certain times of the day or cutting certain ‘toxic’ friendships out of your life.
Of course, setting boundaries is easier said than done - especially when it comes to work and your loved ones. Learning your boundaries and maintaining them takes time and patience with yourself, but in the long run, it can work wonders for your stress levels.
Limiting your phone usage, in particular, can make a significant difference to your lifestyle. Yes, the idea of not always being *on* can be stressful, but giving yourself permission to shut it all out for a moment is allowed - in fact, recommended. Texts can wait. This will allow you to pay more attention to the present moment, which alone, can help to improve your mental wellbeing.
5. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Hear us out, but Instagram’s version of ‘self-care’ (aka bubble baths, face masks and daily meditation) is not the only way to recharge your body and mind. Of course, all of those things are absolutely lovely and if they make you feel good when you’re stressed out, keep doing ‘em!
Put simply, the best self-care strategy is one that you’re actually going to use. Setting healthy habits that prioritise caring for yourself and your needs go beyond the superficial things that might make you feel satisfied in the moment, and centre around what is good for you long-term.
This could be getting your daily dose of sunlight, setting boundaries with yourself and others and choosing downtime to help rest.
Find joy where you can and in the little things, and do things that make you feel nourished and fulfilled. But don’t try to do it alone! It can be easy to isolate yourself when you’re busy - like so many of us are - so make sure you reach out to the people around you, share your problems and feelings, and treat yourself with compassion.
Prime health and wellbeing can’t be achieved overnight. It’s a constant work in progress of making the best decisions for our bodies and minds, for the benefit of our present and future selves.
We’re only human, and so there will be times when it feels hard to stay consistent. We might have a mental health dip, work might become too busy or a big life event happens that is out of control. However, by adopting small, but achievable healthy habits, we can make our desire to be happy and healthy a reality.