We all know the basic ways to be healthier, but have you considered how easy it is to incorporate healthier routines into your lifestyle?
There are endless benefits to implementing healthy habits that will benefit the mind, body, and soul. Over 70% of Americans and Australians are obese or overweight, so we can all use some help with making better choices and learning how to properly look after ourselves.
Simple changes like swapping your daily snacks to something with more fibre will improve your energy levels, immune system, and outlook on life over time.
Most of western society has created an obesogenic society. This means that because capitalism forms the foundation of making everything readily available, even things that we don’t need, we as a society are more inclined to consume goods. Consumers have an abundance of options, and sometimes having too much choice has a negative impact on our diets.
Psychology has looked at the role that excessive advertisement within the media and our environment plays in our behaviours. It was found that when healthy options are given the same limelight as fast food promotions, people are more likely to make better choices.
We, as consumers, are conforming to the surrounding environment, which is filled with fast food bargains and affordable, unhealthy meal options. This is why it can be so challenging to focus on making healthier lifestyle choices because we have been conditioned by society. Actively changing the way we think is especially difficult, but making daily choices will soon become a habit. Follow this guide to learn some easy ways that you can reinforce your brain to make better choices for your health, mind, and wellbeing.
The phrase “healthy lifestyle” encompasses so many aspects that it can be hard to pinpoint. Part of the definition is that many areas contribute to feeling healthier overall. The general rule is that exercise, correct nutrition, and practising regular mindfulness while making time for yourself are all contributing factors to a healthy lifestyle.
Whether you want to make small changes one day at a time or try to reinvent your routine, this is an easy-to-follow guide with some examples on how to introduce healthy lifestyle changes and maintain those habits.
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE & HEALTHY BODY: A CONNECTION
There are so many benefits to adopting a healthy lifestyle, including improving your immune system andpreventing chronic diseases. Essential vitamins that your body will get from a varied diet and improved metabolism from regular exercise contribute to increased life expectancy, better cardiac health, and boost your mood.
Not many people consider themselves mentally or emotionally fit, and feel that their mental health and the relationship with themselves could use some work. Working on yourself and making your health a priority can be difficult, and it takes time to start noticing results.
Some benefits of improving your habits and routines are that you might save money. In the long run, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and fast food is not only unsustainable but are expensive habits. Once you can fuel your body with natural sources of energy like vegetables and pulses, you might find yourself feeling fuller for longer.
This means you will feel less inclined to give in to the pressures of society to satisfy your cravings with a burger or tacos. There is a direct correlation between a positive attitude and greater health, so working on yourself in more ways than one should be a priority, even if it just means focusing on training your brain to create healthier neural pathways and have a more positive outlook on life.
When we look after ourselves and our bodies, we feel fitter in all areas and better equipped to cope during stressful times. This is because we are retraining the brain to be more positive and improve ways of thinking. Another benefit of implementing healthy lifestyle choices is that it can help you feel more in control of your life.
During difficult times of stress and conflict, it’s easy to feel less in charge of your own actions and almost like someone else is in control. This is a stress-related response that puts the brain into survival mode so that you can get through it fast. The mind tends to dissociate and go into autopilot mode, which can be scary and hard to notice. When you take small steps to create healthier habits, your mind will come back to you, and you will feel in control again.
30 STEPS TO LIVING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
So many of us want to become healthier, but it can be pretty intimidating to know how or where to start. That is why we’ve got 30 ideas on areas of your life that you can focus on.
A great first step when thinking about what you want to work on could be to write a list of everything you do during a normal week, including what regular habits you want to stop. Then it’s time to look at what habits you’d like to introduce. We’ve divided our steps into three categories so that they’re easier to follow, and you can focus on your food, mind, and exercise.
A great way to start is to take one idea from each category and try to implement it in your daily routine. Remember to start off small and gradually work on these areas in order to create lasting habits.
Try to focus on getting five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and make sure that your meals are colourful. Generally speaking – the more natural colour is in your meal, the more nutritious it is.
Variation is key to a healthy diet, so try not to stick to a few things during the week. Why not try some new foods and research some healthier recipes. A great way to introduce healthier food into your routine is to plan something that sounds interesting or fresh, so you can look forward to preparing it that day.
Cut down processed food
This is a more obvious one, but just as crucial. It’s going to take some time to learn how to resist cravings, especially when you’re on the go. Even reducing the number of drive-throughs or fast food trips in a month or week can make a massive difference.
We’re not saying you need to cut it out completely, just eat less of it and avoid it when you can. In terms of balancing food groups, processed foods are high in salt and saturated fats, which line arteries and contribute to obesity. Your energy levels will improve, not to mention your heart health.
Choose organic foods
If you’re concerned about where your food is coming from or how processed it has been, you could try picking organic foods where possible. Unfortunately, organic foods tend to be more expensive, so only make this conscious choice if your weekly budget allows.
Select intact grains over refined grains
Not only are these less processed, but they are higher in fibre and will keep you fuller for longer. This means that cravings will be easier to ignore, and you can focus on other lifestyle choices. Small changes like swapping white rice for wholegrain will make a difference in your gut health and energy levels.
Understand emotional eating issues
You might find dieting especially difficult if you are someone who eats during emotional distress. So many of us are stress-eaters and look to food to fill a hole. If you want to tackle this head-on, you might want to speak to your doctor about getting to the bottom of this emotional problem and seek help working through it.
The first step is acknowledging that you do this, and then it’s time to work on it. Avoid foods that trigger binging and speak to a professional to resolve this.
Eat smaller meals
Many western countries such as Australia and America tend to be very generous with food portions and eat more than they might need. A great way to tackle this, if you have the funds is to, is to buy a new set of plates, bowls, or whatever you eat the majority of your meals out of.
Make sure that the plates are smaller than the ones you currently use, and they will encourage you to exercise portion control and focus on only eating until you’re full. You can figure out what meal sizes work best for you on this healthy lifestyle journey by experimenting with different amounts and meal times to see how you feel afterwards and how long it takes you to feel hungry after eating.
Prepare your own meals
This will empower you to cook more and feel more in control of your body. The body is a temple, and we should treat it as such, by paying more attention to what you put in it. Working on your cooking skills and preparing your own food is a great way to focus on healthier eating. Your body will thank you for this, as you will be saving money and reducing your intake of hidden fats, salt and sugar.
Even if you only know how to make one dish, find a new recipe and be adventurous. Try some different flavours and see what works and what doesn’t.
Try regular juices/blending
If you have a blender, a great way to improve your five-a-day intake is to make juices or smoothies. You can easily add two to three portions of fruit and vegetables into a juice that you can take with you on your working day or even have first thing in the morning. The naturally occurring sugars in them will wake you up and give you a vitamin boost to prepare you for the day. A blender is definitely something worth investing in. Another great idea is an instant pot to make your meals more straightforward and accessible.
Try a vegetarian/vegan diet
A lot of people are cutting out meat and animal produce from their diet and swapping to a more plant-based, natural diet. In terms of health, this is widely beneficial because it eliminates a lot of heavily processed foods. However, this isn’t always realistic and is more of an ideal for some people.
You could always try introducing more natural foods into your diet, like pulses and nuts. Becoming vegan isn’t usually done overnight, it can be expensive and cause drastic changes in your health, so speak to your doctor before making dramatic swaps.
Eat healthy snacks
Try to avoid snacks that are high in sugar, as your energy levels will peak rapidly and then plummet over a short time. Natural foods with lower sugar content will help get you through the day without any rapid declines in energy levels. Why not try to start small by bringing a banana with you to the office and snack on some nuts for a great source of energy.
Most people don’t get enough vitamins and nutrients from their diets and need to take supplements to balance their immune systems. Common nutrient deficiencies are iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Even some people who eat healthy diets are naturally low in certain vitamins.
Most of the time, making changes to your diet can naturally introduce some levels of these. Do your research on what foods constrain naturally occurring vitamins, and take supplements where it isn’t possible.
Consume prebiotics and fermented foods
Your gut health is important and can affect your immune response, overall health, and wellness. Fermented foods are great at working on your gut health, but be sure to read the small print and avoid too many foods that are good for your gut. If you’re not careful, you could end up with the opposite effect.
Don’t multitask during lunch
Studies have shown that mindful eating can encourage you to be more aware of what you are consuming and take time to really enjoy and appreciate a meal. Try not to do multiple things or eat at your desk while working, because it can make you feel like you haven’t had a break all day.
If the mind hasn’t had the chance to switch off, it is also likely that you will feel more hungry throughout the day because you haven’t taken the time to really focus on your food.
Plan your meals for the week
This is a great way to plan your week and budget at the same time. You don’t need to buy everything in the health store to be eating healthily, find an easy recipe that is relatively balanced in nutrition, and make it in bulk for the week. This could be your lunches if you have Tupperware to bring with you to work, or your dinners.
Alternatively, you don’t even have to prepare food ahead of time if you don’t want to. Just make a meal plan and try to roughly stick to it. The great part about the loose word “lifestyle” is that you need to find a way to make it fit for you. Incorporate routine without completely changing your week.
It’s just as important to work on your mind as it is on your body. Practising self-care is essential for a healthy way of life and can create a more positive outlook on life.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is a great first step and can make your mind work faster. You could even go one step further and find yourself a water bottle to keep near you as a physical reminder to drink water.
Being more forgiving to yourself and others is beneficial to your outlook on life and creates more positive neural pathways. Being kinder to yourself can be done through journaling, meditation, or introspection. If your outlook on life is more positive, you are more likely to find the strength to continue during tough times when you might have lost track of your healthier choices.
This is key on this journey because it takes time to reinforce better habits and if you are harsh to yourself, you will probably not think you can maintain them.
Get more sleep
Sleep is essential for cognitive repair, weight loss, and wellbeing. This is also perfect to incorporate into your routine because the easier it is to have a good night’s rest, the better you will begin to feel. Try to set an alarm at 9 or 10 pm to remind you to start winding down and get settled for bed. This can also double as a reminder to avoid screens from this time, as they are the number one culprit affecting sleep patterns.
Rest is crucial for muscle repair and recovery, prioritize yourself by improving your sleep schedule and try to wake up at roughly the same time every day if you can. This is another essential piece of the “healthy lifestyle” puzzle, and it takes time to work on, especially with a busy lifestyle or work schedule.
If your thinking patterns are generally negative, and you tend not to think very highly of yourself, this has a negative effect on your daily mood, mental outlook, and overall health.
You could start by writing down something that you like about yourself and one thing that you’re grateful for at the end of each day. This will gradually improve your attitude to life and encourage you to focus on positive things rather than dwelling on negatives, or what-ifs.
Remove negativity out of your life
Try identifying some people in your life who make you feel drained, or that you find yourself putting in all the effort with. Let go of toxic people who bring you down. Even if it makes you feel guilty, you’re doing your future self a multitude of favours.
Another thing to focus on is removing the negativity from your mind. Try doing a “mind dump” by writing down all the intrusive thoughts going on in your head. This is a form of therapy and will make you feel less weighed down. Calling out these thoughts and doubts and challenging them with facts and gratitude is perfect for reinforcing healthy habits within yourself and your social circle.
Cut down alcohol
We all like a little wine or beer at the end of a long day, but it can be damaging to your mental health the next day. Excessive alcohol consumption can be highly damaging to your liver, brain, lungs, and other organs.
Let’s not forget the fact that it is a diuretic, which means that it dehydrates you and affects bodily functions. Try cutting down on how much, and how often you drink.
Learn to say no
Whether it’s eating out, drinking, or even socializing. You will benefit from setting firm boundaries with yourself and not being afraid to say no. By saying no to others when you don’t want to or are too tired, you are saying yes to yourself, and putting yourself first.
This can be a difficult challenge for some people, especially if it’s been a habit for many years. We all know how detrimental smoking can be to your health and the long-term effects on lung function and increased risks of cancer. There is help available for people looking to quit smoking, and you can speak to a pharmacist today.
Get regular check-ups
If you are someone who routinely avoids going to the doctor you need to put yourself and your health first and book an appointment. Some diseases are often undetected and it won’t hurt to get a general check-up or blood test to see if there are any levels you could work on through your diet, such as iron. Booking regular mammograms and PAP smears at regular intervals is also recommended if this applies to you.
Get out more
Fresh air is great for you and can help blow off some cobwebs. Try to schedule a walk in the park each day or even walk to work if you can. During stressful times, you may not even notice yourself taking short, shallow breaths. Try to consciously get outside and take some deep breaths that you feel in the diaphragm.
Practice dental hygiene
This is an important part of your health routine and actually makes you feel clean and fresh. As you’ve likely heard many times – brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly.
The final focus of this guide is how physical activity can improve your outlook on life, self-confidence, and body image. Not to mention improved immune system, higher energy levels, and increased motivation during the day.
Regular exercise has huge benefits to your health, and it doesn’t have to be intense. Schedule a daily walk or spend thirty minutes in the gym twice a week. Have fun with it and find a workout buddy who can motivate and encourage you.
This is also great if you struggle to set routines because you will have someone holding you accountable. You could even join an aerobics or dance class, whatever works for you. Swimming is also a great all-around exercise because it uses the whole body. Exercise has many benefits, including increased life expectancy, weight loss, and a lower risk of diseases.
Workout different parts of your body
Keeping your workout varied encourages your body to work hard and maintain what tone you may have built up already. A great way to make sure you’re switching up your workout is to join a couple of classes or even a sports team. The social support you can get is one of the most motivating things to help you make friends and include regular exercise in your routine.
Improve your posture
Standing up straight or sitting without your back arched will improve your metabolism. Not to mention the wonders it will do for your self-confidence and mental health. Better posture also improves your airflow and allows more air to reach your lungs, as well as enabling deeper breathing.
Make sure you are stretching every day as well because this can also encourage better posture and improve your outlook on the day. If you do this when you wake up, it can help you feel more alert and ready for the day because you’ve already started off strong by moving your body.
We aren’t saying that you need to follow all of these steps to self-actualize, or that if you don’t follow these, then you will be unhealthy.
These are just some ideas aimed to give you inspiration on how to change your routine and introduce more healthy habits. Have some fun with it and take your time, any progress is still progress, and remember not to put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time.
Experiment with different foods, journaling, and sleep routines. The only way to know what works for you is to start trying and paying attention to how it affects you and your overall mood.
Practising gratitude can connect you with your higher self and bring a sense of purpose. Paying more attention to how you feel after focusing on positive things rather than negative is beneficial to your outlook on life. Look after yourself and be mindful of how external variations like certain people or foods affect your mood.
You could even talk to a close friend about how you want to create healthier habits for your mind and body and ask them for any advice on how to start. A great way of getting social support and encouragement is if they want to do the same, and you can each work on yourselves separately. It might be worth scheduling monthly meetings to catch up and talk about some changes that you might have managed to incorporate into your routine or a bad habit that you could’ve cut out. You might even have found something which doesn’t work for you and learned from that. It’s the only way of knowing what doesn’t work, and you will never know if you don’t try.
Pay attention to the obesogenic environment the next time you leave the house, and take note of how the plethora of fast food advertisements and restaurants make you feel. It’s so easy to grab something that’s fast and convenient, but with a little practice and preparation, you can prepare your own meals that you can bring with you.
Not only that but working on your meal planning and preparation simultaneously gives you the confidence in the kitchen that you can take anywhere. Even if you schedule a check-up at your doctor or take yourself for a walk once a week, small steps all play a role in creating a healthy lifestyle. You’re bound to get the hang of it in no time. Try to be more kind to yourself and forgiving when you fall off the bandwagon, the real show of strength and determination is getting back up whenever you fall.
Take the time to focus on yourself and notice the smaller things in life which people often overlook, like the way birds communicate. Failure and making mistakes is how we learn and also show that we are human beings, don’t let it stop you from becoming your best, healthier self.
There are endless benefits of making healthier changes and creating a habit of it. Of course, it can be challenging to keep it up and remember why you’re doing it, however, the great thing about the “healthy lifestyle” concept is the lifestyle part. It’s up to you to start thinking differently and retrain your brain to put yourself first and prioritize your growth and progress.
Find a way that healthy choices work within your lifestyle and begin feeling more centred, mindful, and educated. The key is preparation. Find a way to plan your meals ahead of time and buy ingredients accordingly. Another great first step is to spend some time researching how to make more balanced meals with a variety of nutrients and good sources of protein. You could even start a blog to document your progress and healthy lifestyle journey, this would help the journaling process because it acts as a giant journal which other people can read and offer help.