8 Essential Tips For a Healthy Lifestyle

As they say, when you have health, you have wealth. Good physical and mental health affects all areas of your life, but making big changes can be daunting. Spoiler alert: You don’t have to overhaul your entire life to start a healthy lifestyle!

You can make daily progress toward big goals without changing every single thing about your current daily routine and activities. Remember that big changes happen as a series of smaller steps. We’ve outlined the eight cornerstones of good mental and physical health and broken them down into smaller, actionable habits. Start with the ones you’re most likely to stick with and gradually incorporate other healthy changes.

8 cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle
A healthy diet

Create a balanced diet, including proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. All are necessary for your body’s health needs. Focus on whole and fresh foods and increase your daily intake of vegetables, colorful vegetables and fruits.

Make cooking at home a priority so you are in charge of exactly what goes into your food. Plan your meals ahead of time and hit the grocery store on the weekend so you’re fully armed with healthy food for the week.

Split the appetizers and choose healthier side dishes during the meal.

Pay attention to your hunger cues to know if your desire for food is true hunger or if it is boredom, cravings or even thirst. Be fully present while eating, chew slowly and try to really notice how your food smells and tastes.

Stick to a regular diet and try not to eat later than two to three hours before bed.

Snack wisely, avoiding sugary or fatty treats. Greek yogurt, a handful of raw nuts, or dried fruit are healthy and easy on-the-go options.

Replace refined sugars with natural, fruit or green stevia. Spice up your food to replace salt and sugar without sacrificing taste.

Proper hydration

Keep your body hydrated by drinking six to eight glasses of water a day (other drinks don’t count). You don’t have to obsess, as drinking until thirsty supports most people in meeting this benchmark, but pay attention to your water intake.

Start the morning with a glass of water, preferably warm, to soothe the digestive system and hydrate the lymphatic system. After drinking, wait fifteen minutes before enjoying your coffee, tea or other food to give your body time to take advantage of the cleansing effects.

Buy a nice water bottle and don’t forget to carry it with you when you’re on the go. You can even choose one with ounces marked on the side or other encouraging messages to help you reach your goal. If plain old water is too boring for you, consider adding citrus or mint for a delicious flavor.

Swap sugary drinks for water, fresh vegetable juice or green smoothies. Learn to enjoy hot drinks without added sugar. For example, if you’re used to flavored coffee creamer, start reducing the amount over time until you’re using just a drop or none at all.

Finally, remember to rehydrate your body during sweaty workouts and in hot weather. Pay attention to sweat and urine output as indicators of proper water consumption.

Quality sleep

The average healthy adult needs eight hours of quality sleep each night, so make sleep a priority! It is important to create a comfortable and relaxing environment for sleep, focusing on maximum comfort and minimizing distractions. (Yes, that means keeping your phone and other devices as far away from the bedroom as possible.)

Create a bedtime routine to wind down: dim the lights, listen to soothing music, do gentle yoga or gentle stretching.

Set a sleep schedule – try to get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, and stick to a consistent bedtime. Make your bed a sleep-only zone. Your brain needs to form a strong mental association that your bed is exclusively for sleeping.

Avoid taking long or irregular naps, especially late in the day, as this messes up your internal clock. The best length of sleep is around 10-20 minutes.

Stop hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock! Every time you reset the alarm, your body no longer knows how to respond to the brain’s signal to wake up when the alarm goes off.

Get some sunlight to keep your circadian rhythm healthy. It is ideal to go outside before noon and expose yourself to natural light.

Engage in daily exercise. Physical activity initiates changes in energy use that help promote sound sleep. However, avoid intense training late at night because your body won’t have enough time to calm down before bed.

Try to eat dinner a few hours before bed and minimize fatty or spicy foods to avoid food-based sleep disruptions.

Limit caffeine, alcohol and nicotine later in the day. These are all nervous system stimulants and stay elevated in your blood for hours.

Physical activity

Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Find exercises and exercise styles that you truly enjoy. The less exercise feels like drudgery, the more sustainable it becomes.

Focus on a combination of cardio, strength training, and stretching to keep in shape.

Change up your exercise routine regularly with new movements to keep your muscles tense.

Exercise outside as often as you can to get some sun and give your lungs access to fresh air.

Plan your workouts in advance. Making them non-negotiable like any other important commitment means you’re more likely to keep them.

If it’s safe to do so, walk or bike to work instead of driving. If you take public transport, get off one stop earlier. If you drive to work, park further away from the entrance.

Take the stairs as often as possible, or if you work at a very high level, take the elevator a few floors down.

If time permits, take a walk during your lunch break. Take an active break at work at least once every hour. Take a walk around the office, stretch at your desk, or try alternative nostril breathing for a mental reset.

Find a workout partner. Exercising in the company of people who share your goals in life can help you stay committed and accountable. You don’t even have to work out together in person—work out on Zoom or promise to send each other a sweaty selfie after your workout.

Daily self care

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so take good care of these outer layers. After your workout, shower or wipe off sweat, hydrate often, and remember to apply sunscreen (remember, the protection time a freshly applied sunscreen provides is two hours).

Try a contrast shower! Alternate between hot and cold water when showering to improve circulation, circulation and tone the skin.

Maintain proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and drink soda and juices through a straw to prevent tooth decay.

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