Healthy Habits for a Fitter Body and Happier Mind
Here are 25 habits divided into different categories to give you a healthier, happier life.
Fuel Your Body
1. Water First Thing
Hydration is so important, and while many of us think of a hot cup of coffee or tea first thing in the morning, we are better off to start our day with a big glass of water. This helps to hydrate, lubricate joints, kickstart gastrointestinal tract movement, increase mental alertness, among other things.
Room temperature or warm water is best first thing in the morning, prior to breakfast, coffee or tea.
Tip: Drink your glass of water as soon as you hop out of bed, then hop in the shower while the coffee is brewing!
2. More Veggies
Many physicians, dieticians and health specialists (including me) believe that a healthy diet should be based on a foundation of varied vegetables and fruits.
A wide variety of fruits and vegetables is essential to get most of the required vitamins, minerals and nutrients our bodies need daily. Not to mention most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat, thus aiding in maintaining a healthy weight while helping us to feel full.
Tip: When meal planning, start with a vegetable or fruit, and build your meal around it!
3. Don’t Succumb to Fads
There are so many fads in the diet and fitness industry that it is hard to determine what is true and what is not. One thing that has stood the test of time is that fruits and vegetables are a staple.
There are healthy fats that our bodies require, and others that are detrimental in large quantities. Diets that are extremely strict and leave no room for indulgence, often leads to psychological disappointments and guilt – something which should not be part of a diet.
Tip: Eat well and enjoy!
4. Moderate Exercise
Not only does moderate daily exercise keep us lean and healthy, but it flushes our body with blood and lymph and helps to remove toxins and bring nutrients throughout.
Cardiovascular exercise keeps our hearts and lungs healthy, and resistance or weight exercise keeps our muscles and bone strong.
Tip: We don’t need to spend hours at a fancy gym to reap the aesthetic and health benefits, only a few home items and our own body weight.
5. Get Outside
Being outside in nature is good for body, mind and soul. Our grandparents were right, fresh air really is good for us! Natural daylight has various positive effects on the human body, such as elevating your mood, and speeding recovery.
Tip: Make it a point to schedule in even a 10 minute outside activity during your day.
Walking is the most natural movements of the human body and can be done anywhere, for free, at your own pace. Not only is it good for your body, but it often gives you a chance to clear your head and get back to your work with a fresh outlook!
Tip: Try combining getting outside and walking daily, rain or shine, and you’ll be sure to notice the difference!
We know how important sleep is, and as working parents, we often giggle at the prospect of trying to get more sleep (enter the ever-waking toddler who keeps us up all night then wakes us 2 hours prior to when we would normally need to wake).
Getting more sleep really can be elusive, however, it can be done. Here are a few tips to do so:
- Make daily napping a priority, whether it’s in your car during your lunch hour, or at your home office during a break, or a quick shut eye right after picking the kids up.
- You know that old saying: “sleep when the baby sleeps”? Leave the laundry, cleaning and other jobs and truly sleep when that baby sleeps. Even if you elicit quiet time with the other kids and just lie down and rest, it is still helpful.
- Ask for help, whether you and your spouse take turns, or hire a sitter, take some time and rest.
8. Have Fun
Remember when you were a kid and you enjoyed playing or riding your bicycle? When we grow up, we often get so caught up in adulting that we forget to do fun things that bring us joy.
Having pure fun is an excellent stress reliever and let’s face it: fun is just, well, fun!
Tip: Try out some different hobbies and find what you like.
9. Get Rid of Guilt
Guilt can be an important feeling, but it can often be overblown and unnecessarily stressing. Worrying over unnecessary guilt serves no purpose except for causing the body to react mentally and physically, so it’s best to let go of stress that is not serving you for the better. Try these tips to let go of that guilt and move forward:
Tip: Acknowledge and honor your right to protect your self-interests. Recognize the legitimacy of standing up for your rights. Tell yourself that, even if they’re at odds with another’s, there’s nothing wrong or bad about diligently pursuing your own goals.
Journaling can help you to be thankful for what is already in your life, as well as helping you goal set for your future. Seeing your thoughts, goals and actions written out can often help us work through and solve issues in our lives.
Tip: Keep a journal at your bedside and make a point to journal first thing in the morning or just before you go to sleep.
Meditation is close to number one
In terms of stress management, and with good reason – it can lower heart rate and blood pressure and calm the mind. Practicing meditation can be done anywhere and can be as simple as closing your eyes, deep breathing and simply observing your thoughts.
Tip: Don’t stress about clearing your mind when you meditate – simply let your thoughts pass and breathe deeply while sitting or lying in a relaxed position. Set a timer for 10 to 20 minutes, and if you fall asleep, that is okay too! Take a look at this meditation guide.
Keeping your home, vehicle and office organized can really help decrease stress because you can find what you need when you need it, as well as it gives you a sense of control of your surroundings. As you sort through items, you can donate things that no longer serve you – this will help clear out clutter and less clutter equals less to deal with.
Tip: Take a week (or as long as you need) and focus on one room or area of your house per day. Get rid of items that you haven’t used / worn in longer than one year.
13. Be Mindful
We are often thinking in terms of what’s next, or reviewing something that happened yesterday, but we rarely just enjoy the moment. Being in the moment allows us to be fully present in our lives and experience the here and now fully without the added stress of what comes next.
Tip: Before an event such as an outing with friends, a movie, dinner, etc., remind yourself to enjoy being there and focus on the words coming from the big screen or the conversation with friends. Really listen to what is being said and try not to focus on what you are going to say or do next.
Smiling causes your body to release endorphins and serotonin – which are naturally produced pain relievers and feel good neurotransmitters! Even when the last thing you feel like doing is smiling, research has fond that a false smile can cause the very same reaction. So, as a good friend of mine always says: “fake it ‘til you make it!”
Tip: Spend some time each day “practicing” a smile in the mirror. It seems silly but remember you are doing your body good with this exercise. After a while it may seem so silly you start to smile and giggle at yourself which is a bonus! Not to mention it helps you perfect your selfie game!
15. Deep Breathe
If you are like most of us, your normal breaths are very shallow. A full, deep breath increases the oxygen supply to your brain, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and promoting a state of calmness and relaxation.
Tip: Spend 10 minutes first thing in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and another 10 minutes before sleep practicing deep breathing every day.
16. Positive Self-Talk
What we say to ourselves is so important – our daily self dialogue has a lot more to do with how we view ourselves than we realize, so it’s important to observe what we say and make positive changes as needed.
Tip: Each morning as you get ready, point out the great things you like and admire about yourself. Try and pay attention to your self-talk – when you notice something negative, change it right away by replaying the thought with positive intent.
17. Do More of What You Love
Do you love baking? Is gardening or pet care your Zen? Make time to do what you like every day – doing things you enjoy helps to relieve stress and gives us a sense of purpose and joy!
Tip: Schedule 30 minutes at least 3 times per week to do the things you enjoy – if you can do more – go for it!
18. Balance Work Life
We’ve all burnt the candle at both ends – or so to speak – when work is so busy that it spills into our personal life. This can make stress skyrocket if we aren’t getting enough down time.
Often, we just need to take a step back and look at what we can get off our work plate. Other times, we just need to learn to politely say no.
Tip: Learn your most productive times of the day and use them to your advantage – don’t answer emails or the phone for short periods during these times to focus on tasks and check them off your list!
19. Find Your Zen
For some, a hot bath by candlelight is what gives them peace; and for others, a movie and glass of wine does the trick. Whatever it is that brings you comfort and peace – make it a daily or weekly ritual and let your loved ones know that you are not to be interrupted during this time or self rejuvenation.
Tip: Trade off with your partner – if you have children, pets or loved ones to care for, take that hour to yourself while your partner looks after everyone, and make sure to give them that time to themselves too.
20. Make Your Home Your Sanctuary
Your home may be big or small, old or new, but make sure that you decorate it your way and fill it with décor that makes you feel at home.
Maybe this is as simple a fresh cut flowers on the kitchen table daily, or maybe it’s redecorating your entire kitchen – but don’t let anyone dismiss the importance of your home reflecting you!
Tip: Start with your bedroom – make sure you have the right curtains, sheets, throw pillows, whatever you fancy to make you feel cozy and safe in your own space.
21. Get a Pet (And Be Responsible for It)
Getting a pet can make you healthier in many ways – it will decrease feelings of loneliness, may decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, and help you be more active.
22. Wash Your Hands
We all know how germs are passed, but did you know that human hands are proven to have more germs than a toilet seat?
Keeping your hands clean before letting them near your face or mouth, helps to prevent the spread of influenza, the common cold, and many other contagious illnesses.
Tip: Wash your hands as soon as you come into your home after any outing.
People talk far too much about how busy they are – and not about how they unwind and relax (which would serve us far better.) Rest is when your body and mind take time to rejuvenate – and that is important to be able to function properly at work and play.
Tip: Make bedtime a priority – give yourself some wind down time 45 to 60 minutes prior to be with no screens – this will help your body produce melatonin and make you sleepy.
24. See Your Doctor Annually
It is an important not only to rule out disease, but to check in with your doctor so they can observe any health changes you may not be aware of.
Tip: Make an annual physical check up appointment even when you are feeling great – keeping on top of your health will keep you at the top of your game!
25. Put Yourself First
It may seem counter-intuitive but making sure your needs are met helps you to make sure you are in top shape to care for those around you. If you don’t take care of you, who will?
Tip: While journaling, make a regularly updated list of your needs – check in weekly to make sure they are getting met!
There are many things you can do to help you stay healthy physically and mentally – choose a few goals (or all of them if needed!) from this handy list and keep them visible so you can work on them daily.