10 Simple Steps to a Healthier Happier You!
In recent years, the idea of a healthy lifestyle has become convoluted amid our collective scramble for success and happiness. As our schedules grow more hectic and we continue to place a higher value on convenience, can we really be expected to have the time and motive to make health a priority?
The answer is a resounding “yes” because the most beneficial changes that can be made for a healthier lifestyle are simple, free, and demand very little time!
1. Laugh More
Studies continue to reveal new benefits to laughter on a near-daily basis. The list of healthy effects brought on by laughter is a long one, and includes lowered blood pressure, reduced pain, heightened self-esteem, increased dopamine levels, and even alertness. New research indicates that laughing activates the same areas of the brain as deep meditation, rendering a person extra aware. Studies show that a daily dose of laughter can ward off depression and anxiety as well as boost the immune system. So make it a point to spend more time with those people that make you laugh.
2. Sleep More & Better
Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the pillars to a healthy lifestyle. Each person’s needs are different, and some people can function normally for long periods of time with only a fraction of the sleep necessary for others. The key is to learn what type of sleep schedule best fits your lifestyle and energy output. Besides making you feel and look better, sleep offers a wide range of surprising health benefits, such as improved memory, decreased levels of inflammatory proteins in the blood (high levels of these can be associated with heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis), heightened creativity, and even weight loss.
How many times have you been overly-tired and a little cranky and reaching for the nearest junk food seems the best choice?
3. Eat Less Sugar
Ok, eat a lot less sugar! Researchers say that sugar is America’s worst enemy today. With over one third of American obese and over 25 million Americans suffering from diabetes, it’s a point worth considering. Not only is sugar highly addictive, it is also the main food and beverage ingredient that serves as a catalyst for weight gain. An excessive intake of sugar has ill effects on almost every part of the body including teeth, kidneys, the immune system, and the all-important brain and heart. It can be very difficult to give up sugar completely due to its widespread presence in processed foods, but even cutting back significantly on a daily basis will lead to higher energy levels, potential weight loss, and peace of mind that you aren’t on a fast track to early heart disease.
4. Eat More Greens
As children, many of us pushed that conspicuous pile of leafy or stringy green stuff to the edge of our plate, hoping to get out of eating something we couldn’t even identify. The older we get, however, the more important it is that we take care of our bodies, and coming to accept the value of greens is a big step! Kale, cabbage, turnips, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, and many more are all part of a family known as cruciferous vegetables. Doctors and researchers recommend eating several servings per week of cruciferous veggies for many reasons, and especially because studies indicate a direct link between eating plenty of greens and having extra protection against cancer. In addition to their anti-cancer benefits, these “super-veggies” are great for your immune system, your digestive system, and your brain!
5. Exercise/Walk More
The most important thing to remember about exercise is that you don’t need to train like an Olympic athlete in order to be healthy. Anything is better than nothing, and many doctors agree that simply walking or performing other light aerobic exercise is the healthiest way to keep our bodies at an ideal level of fitness. Over-exercising is as likely to create new health problems or exacerbate pre-existing ones as it is to actually get us into great shape. A consistent exercise regimen will do more than help you maintain a healthy weight; it will also reduce your risk of coronary artery disease (one of the leading causes of death in America), help you effectively manage stress and anxiety, boost your mood, and help counter the natural effects of aging.
Repeat After Us! “People who are physically active live longer and have lower risk for chronic diseases.”
So what is considered physically active?
According to the Center for Disease and Control:
Aerobic activity or “cardio” that gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster.
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week.
Doing water aerobics
Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
Playing doubles tennis
Pushing a lawn mower
(If you are serious about getting more physically active – check out our article on – The Benefits of a FitBit right here.)
6. Get More Fresh Air
Between commuting from home to office to restaurant to office to home, many of us barely get any time to be outside during the week, and all that stale air makes it difficult for our bodies to stay healthy and fresh. According to science, fresh air clears the lungs, sharpens the mind, strengthens the immune system, aids digestion, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, and generally promotes happiness. It’s hard to argue with benefits like that! Best of all, you can just step outside to combine this step with number five and save extra time. What an even extra boost of health? Find a quiet outdoor space to do some mindful meditation.
7. Drink More Water
Water is truly that which we cannot live without. By only drinking beverages which contain water, but also many sugars and preservatives, we put a high demand on our kidneys, gallbladder, and other organs that act as filters. Whether we recognize the symptoms or not, those of us who do not drink water every day are at perpetual risk of dehydration. In the short term, acute dehydration can be life threatening as it sends the body into a state of shock. Over a long period of time, not drinking enough water can lead to chronic dehydration, which in turn can bring about a host of other problems, from increased allergies to depression, acid reflux, and constipation.
If you are feeling a bit sluggish and fuzzy this could be a sign you are not drinking enough water.
8. Read more Books
Either for pleasure or knowledge, reading books is a great way to relax and unwind. If your feeling a bit blue or out of sorts, find a good self-help author that motivates and inspires you. This is a great way to learn a little something from someone that has gone before you.
9. Take a class
Learning something new is a great way to keep your mind healthy and active. There are so many neat classes available today for just about everyone. Like cooking? Sign up for a cooking class and take a friend. Don’t limit yourself to what is comfortable. Take a risk and try something new. I found a great site online called “SkillShare” that offers free classes on a wide range of subjects! Check them out!
10. Love your Body
Follow the 9 steps above and you will begin to see a transformation to a happier you! No matter what size you are at the moment learn to love your body. Set small goals that will help you reach a weight you feel comfortable with. Set yourself up each day for a small success and before you know it you will have one large success! Dieting for most people does not work for the long haul. Learn how to eat healthy and get out there and get some great exercise!
These 10 steps encompass some of the easiest, yet most effective changes you can make toward having a healthier lifestyle. Exercise regularly (outside), drink more water, laugh a lot, sleep well, eat more greens and less sugar, and keep learning, you will notice a new leaf begin to turn over in your life.
You will feel happier, healthier, more energetic, and more self-aware, and these changes can take place in as short a time period as a single week! So ten steps, seven days – how will your life change?