Being healthy, mentally and physically, is one of the most important aspects to focus on because it determines your energy, productivity, and the quality of how you experience life. When it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, it's important to understand that being healthy is a lifelong endeavor. It's not a fad that you jump on for a short term gain, but something that must be maintained throughout your life.
Staying healthy starts with what we consume, how we carry ourselves, what we think, how often we exercise, the amount of sleep we have, and so much more. It's about taking a holistic approach to improve as many areas of your life as possible and keeping it in forward momentum.
Below are our top 10 tips for staying healthy that will help you feel healthy, happy, & well.
1) Healthy Eating
One of the core principles to a healthy lifestyle is good nutrition, which is comprised of a balanced diet and frequent water consumption. Developing healthy eating habits is not as tedious, restrictive, and confusing as many people view it. The most vital step to take in achieving healthy eating techniques is avoiding processed foods and focus on eating plant based food such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
We all know how addictive fast food and junk food is, don’t we? But eating that type of food, which is usually very low in nutritional value, doesn't work if your goal is to live a long, healthy life. So fast food should be completely avoided or reduced to a minimum in your life.
The best approach is to cook your own meals so you can maximize the nutritional value that your body consumes. This includes a balanced diet, which should contain:
- Carbohydrates - these are the primary source of your body’s energy. Carbohydrates should be taken in low amount because an excess of them leads to chronic illness like blood sugar. You should get your carbohydrates from complex and unrefined carbs such as fruits, whole grains, and vegetables rather than sugars and refined carbs such as white bread and pastries which are stripped of fiber and bran, which can be an illness-accelerating factor.
- Protein - this is a crucial nutrient required for the repairing and building of cells and tissues in your body. Healthy protein consumption can come from both animals and plants, however, it's best to stay away from processed red meat, which has been proven in scientific studies to be associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. Healthy consumption of protein can involve a variety of plant-based food that include beans, vegetables, nuts, peas, etc.
- Fiber - numerous people associate fiber with food digestion and nothing more. This is not the case, high consumption of foods rich in fiber helps keep away several chronic diseases like stroke, diabetes, and heart diseases. Fiber is a nutrient found in plants based foods.
- Fat - fats are classified into two types; the good fat and the bad fat. Good fat has several advantages in your body, especially in your heart and brain function. Bad fat, on the other hand, can ruin your diet and expose your body to numerous diseases. Good fat is found in foods and supplements like omega 3, nuts, olives, sunflower, etc. Bad fat is often found in fast food and packaged food.
2) Better Sleep
Physical and mental activities throughout the day take a toll on our bodies. On average an adult needs 8 hours of sleep for the body to refurbish and rebuild energy to work the following day. Sleep is an essential factor in achieving a healthy lifestyle. Most people know that good sleep is essential to our health, but how many people actually get to sleep those required 7-9 hours a day?
Having enough sleep allows our body to work well throughout the rest of our day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, having a good, consistent sleep helps us make the right decisions, remember information, and think clearly. Without adequate quality sleep, your cognitive function is impaired, leading to poor function.
- Set an alarm in your phone 1 hour before going to bed.
- Use a dimming lamp to lower the brightness in your bedroom 1 hour before going to bed.
- Drink a hot cup of Sleep Herbal Tea to help calm your body.
- Use a hand-held massager to relax your back muscles.
- Avoid using electronic devices 1 hour before sleeping because it keeps your mind active.
- Read a fiction book and avoid non-fiction books as it can activate your mind.
3) Keep Fit
One way to maintain your fitness activity is to identity yourself with the exercise you wish to perform. Making a declaration of who you are is extremely powerful, because when you declare yourself as that identity, you perform the actions associated with it. Here is a story to serve as an example. Jane ran every day for 15 years, never skipping one day. Whether it rained, shined, if she was sick, was traveling, or had a busy day, she always found time to run. When asked how it was possible that she never skipped a day of running in 10 years, she said, "I'm a Runner, so I run."
The moment you remove your identity is the moment you relinquish your responsibility in that area. So, make a declaration that you are a Runner, Yoga Practitioner, Swimmer, Bodybuilder, etc. and by declaring that you are one of these identities, it will make it easier for you to practice the exercise associated with it.
And it's important to spend enough time in an exercise activity to have lasting effect. Spending 45-60 minutes a day in physical exercise will lead you to a better lifestyle by reducing the risk of diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, etc.
- Identify yourself in a way that associates you with a particular exercise. "I am a Runner, Swimmer, etc..."
- Set an alarm on your phone for the time each day that you plan to exercise.
- Keep a gym bag containing workout accessories in your car so you're always ready to go.
- Find an exercise you enjoy doing or a partner to join you.
4) Managing Stress
Most people only think of stress when they are already on the verge of burnout. Adopting healthy stress-relieving habits is a stepping-stone to maintaining a healthy life. We all experience stress, but it's how we deal with it that makes a difference. Reducing stress helps prevent heart disease, blood pressure, depression, and obesity.
Before stress becomes unmanageable, consider writing down anything that comes to mind that triggers stress in your life. Examine each stress trigger and determine if you can 1) delegate the task to someone else, 2) complete to remove the task so it no longer shows up in your life, or 3) remove yourself from the situation. If it's a person close to you that's causing you stress, it's ideal to research and learn more about effective communication technique so you have a better way to deal with them. Again, you will always have stress in your life, but it's about how you deal with it that makes a difference.
Stress can be handled by scheduling 10-15 minute breaks between 2 hour work periods, releasing trapped emotions by talking to someone you trust about your feelings, meditation, spending time in physical activities such as yoga, sports, etc. You can also learn to delegate tasks by sharing more responsibilities with your partner or family members.
Stress Relief Tips:
- Write down anything that comes up in your day that triggers stress in your mind and body.
- Find ways to alleviate the things that trigger stress in your life.
- Schedule short 10-15 minute breaks for every 2 hour of works.
- Create a routing of walking for 10-15 minutes daily, schedule exercise time, or mid-day naps.
- Practice stress reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, sports, etc.
- Ask for help from your partner or family members.
5) Regular Body Check Up
Regular visits to the doctor for checkup and test helps counteract imminent diseases before they strike. Chances of a disease to be treated and cured are high once a disease is realized early in the body. Getting accurate screenings, services, and treatments immensely increase your odds of living a healthier and longer life.
Regular Check-Up Tips:
- Schedule a yearly visit with your doctor
- Set and share your health goals with your doctor to achieve a desired weight, improved cholesterol levels, etc.
- If you are predisposed to a certain type of disease, ask your doctor what you can do for preventive maintenance.
6) Drink Enough Water
Did you know the body can go for weeks without food but cannot work for a week without water? Your body is made up of muscles, blood, and bones which require water to function properly. The muscles that support your daily movement make up 75% water, your lungs are comprised of 90% water, your brain consists of 76% water, the fueling system in your body that is the blood is 82% water, and amazingly your bones are comprised of 25% water. That makes water vital for your body to function.
To stay hydrated, drinking 6-8 glasses of water every 24 hours is a good approach. Another approach is to monitor the color of your pee. If it's clear, it means you're properly hydrated, but the more yellow your pee becomes, the more dehydrated you are.
Water Hydration Tips:
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water every 24 hours
- Monitor your pee: If it's clear, you're properl hydrated.
- Drink filtered water from glass or stainless steel containers as they do not leach chemicals
- Avoid drinking from plastic or aluminum as they can leach chemicals that disrupt your body's hormones
For more facts on water, read our article Why You Should Only Drink Water.
7) Proper Hygenie
Access to proper sanitation is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Appropriate sanitation practices involve cleaning hands before every meal, after visiting the washroom, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables, drinking clean water, etc. Poor sanitation practices lead to conditions and diseases like cholera and gastrointestinal disorders.
8) Protect Your Skin
Sun rays can both benefit and harm your skin. Exposure to sunlight, especially in the morning hours, can be useful for your body before the rays become too strong and harmful. Sun-rays provide vitamin D that is beneficial in strengthening your bones and lowering your risk of cancer, especially breast and pancreatic cancer. However, overexposing your skin to UV rays can cause detrimental effects to your health as they can cause premature aging skin and skin cancer.
Wearing chemical-free sunscreen when you go out in the sun for a prolonged period of time is an essential way to protect your skin. Sunscreens with the following chemical should be avoided as they have been shown to disrupt your hormone levels; oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Instead, opt for mineral based sunscreens that contain ingredients such as: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. According to Skin Cancer Organization, indoor tanning should also be avoided. Indoor tanning exposes the skin to melanoma at a rate of 75%.
With makeup, wearing powder or a light foundation can protect your skin from UV rays. If your skin is free from marks or blemishes, consider using a tinted moisturizer. Before you retire to bed it's important to remove your makeup and wash your face with a facial cleanser. This practice allows your pores to breathe while you sleep. Besides using cleanser, it's essential to exfoliate your skin two or three times a week to remove dead skin that may clog your pores.
9) Stay Happy and Positive
Happiness describes a positive minded and healthy person. Avoiding negativity and sadness will help reduce your stress, depression, and keep many diseases at bay. It's reported that 40% of doctor visits are stress related and your mood has a direct effect on your stress levels. Maintaining happiness has a lot of benefits for your health such as improving your immune and neuron system, reducing the possibility of blood pressure and heart attack, protecting you against stroke, and helping reduce pain caused by degeneration and inflammation of your joints and muscles.
- Monitor your thoughts. Are they negative or positive? Being aware of your thoughts can help steer your thinking towards a more positive direction.
- Pay attention to the company you keep. If you hear negativity, you're more likely to think negative thoughts as well.
- Spend time around happy, upbeat people because you become a product of your environment.
- Pursue dreams, passions, and hobbies that bring you joy as striving for goals can provide focus and drive toward a rewarding outcome.
10) Express Yourself
Emotions play a vital role in health and fitness. There are 5 strong emotions that can affect your health and body as a whole: fright, timidity, grief, anger, and sadness. These negative emotions can contribute to emotional and mental stress. And if you hide your feelings and don't allow your body to release trapped emotions, your body can reach a point where the emotions erupt, causing illnesses and imbalance with your spiritual, mental, and physical self. Learning the art of self-expression and authenticity can keep your cognitive and spiritual sense in a healthy state.
Emotional Release Tips:
- Writing in a daily journal can help you let go of daily negative thoughts.
- Confront difficult situations with other people the moment it arises so you can deal with it and move on.
- Share your feelings with your trusted friends & family. It's important to share with people who do not gossip much, because that can cause more problems depending upon the issues you're dealing with.
- Spend more time in nature as it helps balance your mood and energy levels.
- Take up a creative hobby such as painting, writing, dance, photography, video, music, etc. as they can move your emotions to help you become more expressive.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is a personal choice that you need to make for yourself. Making a lifelong commitment in this pursuit is a great way to position your mind towards thinking about health as a never ending goal. Strive to do your best by making incremental changes and you'll find that with each step you make you'll look better, feel better, and perhaps even inspire your family & friends to go on their own health journey.
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