Holly Riddle is a professional freelance writer specializing in travel and food writing.
No one wakes up in the morning hoping to live an unhealthy life — yet, all too often, living a healthy life gets put on the back burner. Here are 14 easy tips to start living a healthier life today.
It becomes easier to grab a fast-food breakfast on the way to work — or skip breakfast altogether — than it does to wake up an hour earlier to make a nutritious breakfast before heading out the door. At night, it feels like a choice of either relaxation and family time, or exercise and meal prep, so the latter loses. Grabbing a drink with friends becomes a more convenient form of stress release than a day-long hike or even an hour-long yoga sess.
And while none of those things are bad in moderation, when they become the normal way of life, you start to notice a difference. All that unhealthy living turns into an unhealthy lifestyle, leading to an overall lack of health — and no one wants that.
Is it time you started making a concentrated effort to live a healthier life?
1. Drink your water, starting with first thing in the morning.
Most of us could stand to drink more water and it’s one of the easiest things you can do to increase your health, from your immunity to your digestive system (1). Grab a glass first thing in the morning to kick the day off right.
2. Add in some extra steps to live a healthier life.
There’s no need to set aside an hour each night for exercise. While that might be the optimum, if you don’t have the time, get in your extra steps (2) where you can, whether that means taking the stairs at work, planning a walk date instead of a coffee date with a friend, or parking at the far end of the parking lot.
3. Use your vacation days.
More and more studies (3) show the importance of taking your vacation days for your mental health. If you have some vacation days piling up, actually take them, even if you don’t actually travel anywhere.
4. Take your vitamins.
If you know you’re not getting all your vitamins and nutrients via your regular diet, get them through a daily vitamin — which you should be taking anyway! Meet with a nutritionist to determine your best supplement regimen for a long, healthy life.
5. Add versus eliminate.
It can feel really discouraging and even depressing to cut favorite foods out of your diet. If you don’t think you’re up to the challenge just yet, try adding good foods to your plate (think whole foods, leafy greens, colorful veggies and fruits) versus taking something away or making a swap.
6. Try to sleep more.
Yes, it can be difficult to get the amount of sleep you need, especially when you’re working full-time, ferrying the kids between activities and trying to also have a social life. However, a lack of sleep is linked to a lot of health issues (4) that you just don’t want. Even getting into bed a half hour earlier can help make a difference.
7. Go to your yearly check-ups.
Haven’t been to the doctor in a while? Go get that physical, talk about any concerns you might have and stay up to date on any medications you might need. If anything is ever seriously wrong, you want to catch it ahead of time, for the best chances of a full recovery possible.
8. Start and end your day with a healthy routine.
Humans love routines. Start and end your days on good notes, with routines that help you prepare for the day, but also help you wind down at night. Maybe it’s keeping a gratitude journal at night, stretching in the morning or meditating for a brief five minutes. Whatever you have time for, try it out until you find something you like and then keep to it.
9. Try to reduce stress.
It’s way easier said than done, but if you can, try to reduce your stress. Maybe that means dropping your side hustle. Maybe it means delegating some work tasks to someone else on your team. Maybe it means cutting a toxic relationship from your life or going to therapy. Make de-stressing your life a priority and your body will thank you for it (5).
10. Keep an eye on your vices.
We all have them, but too much of them can really impact your health in a bad way. Keep an eye on habits that are unhealthy, and try to stop or cut back.
11. Keep your mind active.
If your job doesn’t do it for you, keep your mind active in other ways outside of your work. Maybe that means reading regularly. Maybe it means expanding your social circle to include people with differing beliefs and world views. Maybe it means simply doing the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper. Whatever it is, keep your mind as active as your body.
12. Connect to nature.
Nature comes with some serious healing properties (6). Get out in nature whenever you can, however you can. If you don’t have a local park or hiking trails where you can do so easily, bring the outdoors in, with health-benefitting house plants (7).
13. Keep healthy options on hand.
How are you going to say ‘no’ to fatty, salty, sugary food items if you don’t have any yummy alternatives on hand? The next time you’re grocery shopping, try to put two or three healthy items in your cart for every unhealthy item.
14. Make lifestyle changes that you enjoy.
If you hate a particular lifestyle change, you’re not going to stick with it. That, of course, doesn’t mean to avoid all lifestyle changes that are difficult, but if you don’t even appreciate the benefits, you’re not going to keep up with that rigorous workout routine or continue cutting back on the carbs.
So, start with lifestyle changes you like, such as walking around the block on your lunch break or cooking a different or new-to-you veggie a few times per week. Whatever makes you happy, do it. All positive changes should be celebrated and you don’t have to do all 14 tips to live a healthier life all at once.