Focusing on your health and wellness means a whole lot more than making sure you work out and eat your veggies. Fitness is a mindset, and it’s one that demands attention. To be healthy, you need to develop healthy habits and stick to them every day.
Developing and sticking to better habits isn’t as tough as it sounds. There are lots of small changes you can make that will help you to live a fuller, fitter life. Here are some ideas to help you live a healthier lifestyle every day.
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Sleep Better (Really!)
I know, I know, I know. You’re tired of being told to sleep more. The thing is, though, sleep is pretty darn magical. A few years ago, I made a conscious effort to sleep more and to develop a sleep schedule. I stuck to it and have seen a world of difference in my health. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy, but I am going to tell you that I don’t think there’s anything else you can do that can revolutionize your health as much as sleeping better can.
Here’s what I mean by sleeping better:
- Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day (even weekends)
- Ensuring you are getting the amount of sleep you need (I need 8 hours, but your perfect amount will depend on you)
- Being protective of your sleep habits
- Correcting issues that are interfering with your sleep
Your body needs to go through the sleep cycles and be in deep sleep for certain periods of time. Experts say lots of different things about how long and how cycles work, but the key takeaway for you is that you need an extended period of uninterrupted sleep.
Here are a few tips on how to sleep better:
- Reduce blue light exposure at night – try to stay off your electronics for one hour before bed
- Stop all caffeine consumption by early afternoon – 2 p.m. is a good rule of thumb
- Turn down the thermostat for bedtime – we sleep better when its cool
- Consider your bedroom – make sure it’s dark enough at night and that you are comfortable
There are lots of ways you can focus on better sleep habits, and they will absolutely make a big difference in your life. You might consider tracking your sleep for a week or so to figure out exactly what your habits are and where you can improve. Sleep trackers are a good option, too, if you’re curious to know how often you’re waking up at night or how much you’re actually sleeping.
Increase Activity Levels and Exercise Regularly
Obviously exercising is important to fitness and to living a healthier lifestyle, but it’s easy to get caught up in other things and get off track. Exercising regularly and habitually is the best way to ensure you’re getting it done. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to the gym every day – that just isn’t practical for a lot of people. It does mean making a conscious decision to do something on a regular basis. Some examples and tips are:
- Practicing yoga each morning
- Going for a run certain mornings each week
- Hitting up the trails at least one weekend day a week
- Keep it varied so you don’t get bored
- Find a buddy to hold you accountable
In addition, be sure to make a focused effort to simply increase activity levels. I love my fitness tracker for this – I always want to hit my steps, so it’s a huge motivator to keep me moving throughout the day. Other ideas to keep you moving:
- Park far away from your destination and force yourself to walk
- Go for a stroll on your lunch hour
- Sign up for a marathon (or half marathon or a 5k) and start training
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Get a dog (or walk your neighbors if you can’t!)
One key to being more active is simply being aware of your inactivity. Once you see how much you’re not moving, it’s easy to motivate yourself to do more. And it makes a big difference in your overall health and wellness.
Pay Attention to Your Intake
To live healthier, you absolutely must do these two things:
- Drink water
- Eat healthy
Yes, it’s boring to talk about and sure, you’ve heard it a million times, but I’m going to say it again. You have to drink lots of water. You have to be mindful of what you eat.
I recommend paying attention to your intake for the first little while. There are plenty of apps that will let you log your food, but an old-fashioned journal and pen works just fine, too. It’s super easy to notice your water intake as well – just keep track of how often you’re filling your water bottle.
Obviously there will be days when you splurge, and obviously, you won’t drink as much water as you should each and every day. However, paying attention and making good decisions about your food and liquid intake more often than not will lead to a healthier life.
Address the Stress
Stress is toxic, and living a healthy life just isn’t possible if you are being run ragged by stress. Sure, there are plenty of stressors we simply can’t avoid. And, if you work in a high-stress job, I know I can’t tell you to just get over it. But no matter what your circumstances, you can find ways to address and reduce some stress.
In some cases, stress comes from relationships or commitments. And, in many of those cases, it is a healthy move to change those circumstances – walking away from toxic relationships, easing up on commitments, or simply carving more time for yourself. Whatever you can do to change the stress that comes from commitments you don’t need, do it! I promise the world will keep turning if you tell the PTO that you can’t be involved in ALL the fundraisers this year.
In situations where the stress cannot be cut out, it’s worth it to take some time and determine how you might alleviate some of it. Whether you learn some breathing techniques or find a therapist, or whether you carefully shift some of your work responsibilities or take a vacation, there are ways to handle your stress better. Centering self-care and stress reduction is a key way to live a healthier lifestyle. For some, it feels indulgent, but the fact of the matter is, you are not at your best when you are too stressed.
These are just a few of the ways you can introduce healthy habits into your routine. What are your healthy habits? Tell me in the comments below!