How many times have you set out to give your life an overhaul? Be honest with yourself, how many times have you said you’re going to quit smoking, lose a few pounds for your holiday, join a gym and practice yoga everyday?
While we all set out with the best intentions, how many of us stick to those health and wellbeing goals long term? After a few weeks, many of us give up because we’ve become bored with the restrictions, or the routine has become stale.
Did you know that you don’t have to make huge lifestyle changes to strengthen your health and wellness? There are plenty of smaller, more achievable goals you can incorporate into your lifestyle that will be easy to maintain in the long haul. Below, we take a look at the top 10.
Make a few dietary changes
We all know the key to a healthy body is exercise and eating a balanced diet, but instead of giving your diet a complete overhaul, why not make a few easy changes instead? You’ll soon see your energy levels increase and start to feel much better. The below swaps are some of the easiest to incorporate:
- Swap refined carbs such as white bread, pasta, and rice for healthier wholegrain versions
- If you love drinking fizzy drinks, consider replacing it with sparkling water and a slice of lemon instead
- Swap a packet of crisps with a high protein alternative such as Biltong. Find out more about what biltong is here.
- If you get peckish between meals, consider snacking on a piece of fruit, carrot sticks and hummus or a handful of whole nuts rather than reaching for the biscuits
If you’re already exercising regularly, good for you! If not, consider getting more active. We don’t mean setting yourself a goal of running the London marathon but consider upping your activity levels on a regular basis. Have an office job? Set a timer to go for a walk around the building every hour and consider going for an extended walk on lunch to slowly increase your activity levels.
As well as the tonnes of health benefits associated with being active, including reducing the risk of heart problems and diabetes, regular activity improves your strength, stamina, flexibility, and mental health too! That’s right, regular activity has been proven to boost your mental health as it triggers feel good chemicals in the brain that make you feel refreshed and revitalised.
The fantastic thing about exercise is that you don’t need a gym to get cracking – all you need is the outdoors, and you’re good to go! Walking can be just as beneficial as running, so give it a try!
Train your brain
Researchers have found that cognitive training such as puzzles, memory games, word, and number puzzles (think Sudoku and Crosswords) can improve some aspects of memory and thinking, especially in people that are middle-aged or older.
According to research, regularly engaging your brain may help to lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by up to 29%. So next time you have the newspaper open, take 30-minutes out to complete the crossword and engage your brain!
Fresh air, greenery, and exposure to sunlight (a fantastic source of Vitamin D) are the three key ingredients for improving your mental and physical health. That’s right – being outdoors can be extremely beneficial for the body, soul, and mind.
Whether it’s a walk around the block, a hike in the mountains or a trip to the beach on a sunny day, being outdoors has been proven to decrease your stress levels. When combined with exercise, it can also help to fight things such as anxiety and depression too.
Go to bed earlier
Most of us don’t get the seven or more hours of sleep that adults need, which is why we often wake up cranky and restless. Over time, a lack of sleep can really affect your mental and physical health. We’re not just talking about being more grumpy than usual – regular lack of sleep puts you at risk of many serious health complications such as heart attack and stroke and it’s also been linked to obesity.
If you’re constantly sleep-deprived, going to bed just 10 minutes earlier every night could help. Try setting an alarm every day – even on weekends – and stick to it to allow your body to get used to a routine.
A problem shared is a problem halved
Keeping negative feelings bottled-up can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression so it’s important you open-up to those around you when you’re starting to feel the stress build-up. If you feel you can’t talk to a friend, there are plenty of helplines and support groups out there to help.
Limit screen time
Think about it – how much time do you really spend staring at a screen? You probably wake-up and check the news or scroll through social media, go to work, and spend a good portion of your day staring at a laptop screen and come home, kick back and relax whilst binge-watching Netflix on the TV.
That’s a scary amount! And research has shown that most adults spend half of our waking days staring at a screen.
As much as it allows us to switch-off, too much screen time is detrimental to our health. Not only has it been linked to obesity and depression, but it can give you poor posture too. Consider setting a screen time limit each day and you’ll soon notice your mood and sleep improve!
Take the stairs
The next time you need to reach a higher floor, consider dodging the lift and taking the stairs instead. By taking the stairs you’ll not only get the blood pumping around your body, but you’ll also increase your step count and work the muscles in your legs!
Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to reduce your chances of becoming seriously ill with many diseases and infections. When you skip vaccines, you leave yourself vulnerable to many illnesses and infections including flu, Covid-19, HPV, and shingles. To improve your immunity, and protect those around you, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated throughout your life.
Last, but by no means least is relaxation. That’s right, as important as exercise and healthy eating is, relaxation is something you should do every day to ensure a happy and healthy life. Carve time out of your busy schedule for you and spend free time with friends and family to take your mind off the stresses of everyday life.