Healthy Living doesn’t just mean exercise and eating your vegetables anymore, it’s about the whole package. It is about Life and living it well. From your feet hitting the floor to falling asleep, living a healthy lifestyle is the key according to new research. Studies across the globe agree on multiple fronts that there are anywhere from 3-25 tips, but I consolidated reoccurring items down to 5 Tips for Healthy Life.
1. Happiness and Mental Health
Thirty years ago ‘happiness’ was a small subject on the mental health front, but today there are thousands of studies, research, books, and events dedicated to happiness, college degrees, and an entire Positive Psychology field. Go to a book store and you will find a sea of brightly colored yellow books and magazines like LIVE HAPPY that are dedicated this part of healthy living. March 20th has been named The International Day of Happiness. Fortune 500 companies like NEORA have been built on mottos of ‘’Look Better, Feel Better, Live Better!” and Google which focuses on the mental health of its employees. What does all this mean? It
means this first step is the most important to your overall well-being. Happiness is not a verb, it’s an adjective. No one can be happy ALL the time. You have to choose to be happy, daily. It is an activity, a state of mind that will greatly affect your day and life. Choosing to be grateful instead of complaining, taking chances instead of having regrets, focusing on what you have instead of want you don’t is easier said than done but will change the way you think in a good way. Stop comparing your life to others. Set big goals and write out smaller steps to reach them. Taking time each day to focus on you, whether it’s taking a long walk, a warm bath, reading 10 pages a night, or meditating; these things will greatly improve your overall health.
Being ‘happy’ and staying positive will affect your brain by reducing stress levels causing you to sleep better and make better diet choices. People who are less happy, stay up late watching TV, spend more time on their devices and social media, they also tend to drink more alcohol, binge eat salty or sugary foods that will begin a cycle of not feeling your best. Start small and if you are interested in learning more, you can read Make Happiness A Habit.
The National Sleep Foundation was created for this topic alone, researching and publishing updated statistics and backing it up with Science, but how does this affect you? How much should you sleep per night? With crazy busy schedules most parents only get 5-6 hrs. per night on average, which can lead to disease, depression, and lack of energy you need to function causing your metabolism to tank leading weight gain. It is recommended that adults get 7 to 8 hours per night, but that also the rest you get has to be good sleep or it doesn’t count.
Tossing and turning because of discomfort, waking up to pee, checking your phone because of a notification or email are only a few things that can hinder you at night. Common things that can help you get a better night sleep is get a new mattress, its recommended to replace yours ever 7 years, and pillows ever 2 years. Turn your thermostat down to around 65 degrees or sleep with a fan because the body tends to over-heat while sleeping all bundled up and this will cause you to wake up frequently.
What else can you do about this? Take some simple steps for better health and sleep.
- Sleep Routine – Adults who establish a sleep routine, like children and teens, have better REM sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Create your own sleep routine. After you have finished work, put those munchkins to bed, or let the dog out one last time, spend 15-30 mins on yourself. Turn off all devices 30-60 mins prior to bedtime, set them on sleep mode or silence, take a shower, have a glass of wine or hot tea while listening to soft classical music, brush your teeth, read a few pages, meditate or say a prayer, then turn out the light. Make one that fits you and do it.
- Establish a Circadian Rhythm – Going to bed M-F at the same time and rising at the same time is great, but sleeping in on Saturday morning is not going to catch you up on the sleep you missed during the week. It actually is worse and is counterproductive. Set a circadian rhythm by going to bed and rising at the same time 7 days a week. If you feel tired during the day or the weekend because that fun late night out with friends, take a nap.
- Eating and Drinking – Do not eat 1-2 hours prior to going to bed. Having a nice cup of tea or glass of water is okay, it’s even encouraged, but be careful at the amount or you will wake up to hit the restroom in the middle of the night. Find your limit by trial and error.
If you are still having issues, consult your physician. They may ask for a sleep study to be done to find out if you may have a number of treatable sleep disorders. Getting actual rest will change everything for your health.
This issue has been beat to death, but it remains true. Your diet affects your health. Drinking 8 glasses of water per day is a staple, but if you are trying to lose weight, you should drink the number of ounces that matches your body weight. Example, I just had my fourth child and weigh 145 lbs. I should be drinking 145oz of water per day to help knock out this last 15lbs of baby weight. Water is the first step in your diet to better your health. Most Americans live in a constant state of chronic dehydration. With the readily available soda, sweet tea, coffee, sports and energy drinks that contain caffeine which act as a diuretic, be cautious. I also live by the rule of thumb, if I have a glass of wine or beer, I drink a glass of water next, and continue to alternate, you may be running to pee a lot, but the hangover is nonexistent!
Food is fuel. This is harder to live by than anything else for me personally. I have to remember this daily, repeat it, write it down and put a post-it on my bathroom mirror. Everything you put in your stomach is fuel for your body to run on. The recommendation of the food pyramid is still the best thing to follow and can be tracked easier than ever by free apps such as MyPlate. The diet crazes such as South Beach, Atkins, and now Keto have and will fade with time. The pyramid shows that Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy, and Protein is the nutrition your body needs to fight off disease, illness, and have energy to enjoy life.
There are days were my entire diet comes from readymade packages or a fast food window, so I take supplements to make sure I am getting my balance of nutrients, like Youth Factor, which is a freeze dried mix that you poor into 8-10 oz. of water containing 4 servings a fruit and 4 servings of vegetables in one convenient on the go pack. If you need help getting your nutrients there are so many supplements that can help your body function and live healthier.
Sugar is your worst enemy. It slows you down, it causes weight gain, gives you quick boost of energy only to crash after a few hours, it’s addictive, and research shows that it feeds diseases like cancer. Having a piece of birthday cake, or chocolate covered strawberries occasionally is not the issue, but the constant ingestion is where you can get into trouble. Most people today drink their sugar intake for the entire day before breakfast with a quick stop at your local coffee house or grabbing an energy drink. Try to go a full two days without added sugar, not the sugar found in fruits or carbs, but candy, gum, chocolate, coffee, soda etc. If you get a headache, get cranky, feel sick, your body is going through withdraws and is a big sign you need a change for better health.
Again, another subject that has been well documented and due to oversaturation we are paying less attention. As our society becomes more automated, just getting up to turn on the TV or make a grocery list is faster, and requires less movement. I love my Amazon Alexa and Siri apps, they help me every day, but they are making us more and more lazy. Get up and move. Stretch at your desk job at least once every two hours. 10,000 steps a day would change 75% of people’s health. Download a free app on your smartphone to keep track of your activity. Take the stairs, ride your bike, go to the park with the kids and instead of sitting on the bench scrolling through Instagram play with them. Take your dog for a walk. Every little bit helps.
You don’t need to run a marathon but getting your heart rate up for 30 mins 3x a week would change your life. Play tennis, make a small garden, join a community softball team, donate time to cut your elderly neighbors grass, swim laps in a pool, these are small things to get off the couch, out of bed, and up from your desk. Bike riding with my kids is my go to. Find something that you can incorporate into your life easily and enjoy the benefits.
This one is a newer to the concept of healthy living. With today’s social media, texting, streaming, and work from home jobs, it’s getting harder to foster meaningful relationships. Human beings are not meant to go through life alone. My kids are being raised in a society that is teaching them that online friends are real friends? They have never spoken in person, maybe seen them once in their life, or not at all, and may not even know your last name, these are not friends. Sitting in your room with a headset and video game controller on a Saturday night is not going to cultivate a friendship or replace a social life. If there was a death in the family, would they come to the funeral, send flowers, bring food? Call you to check in if you hadn’t posted on social media in days? Knock on your door because you hadn’t answered a call in a week?
Children at least go to school daily and talk to their teachers and classmates, but what about weekends and summer time? A college student could go an entire day without speaking to another person. Adults go into work and speak with co-workers and bosses by emails and messenger apps on their computers but what about lunch or after work drinks? I know people who are married but consider their partner just a roommate. These are not relationships.
To round out your health we need these human connections. Find yours by visiting grandparent’s, call or face-time your parents or, inviting your kids friends over for a playdate and sit with their parents talking, go to church, volunteer at a nursing home or soup kitchen, instead of using grub-hub and watching a movie this Friday night eat out and sit at the bar and chat, invite your neighbors over for a BBQ, take a cooking class, go to the gym with a workout partner or finally ask that person out on a date. It’s too easy to sit and care only about ones self today, but by reaching out and caring about others and putting yourself out there you will boost your mood, happiness and health in every way. It is totally worth it.
Directing your thoughts at these five tips for healthy life will boost your overall health in 2019. Turn your thoughts into actions. You can’t completely change your life overnight, but you can start small and start today.