Most aspects of your health are under your control. While you can’t change your genetics, you can change your daily habits – and good daily habits can go a long way towards making you healthier and happier. No matter how good your lifestyle currently is, there are probably some things you can tweak to improve it even more. Here are eight habits you can adopt to live your healthiest life.
1. Eat a nutritious, varied diet.
Aim to eat a balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Focus on fresh, unprocessed food as much as possible, and steer clear of foods that contain lots of sugar and white flour. No time to cook? Pre-packaged meals can make it easy to stick to your diet plan. Check out services like Nutrisystem that deliver healthy meals right to your door. For example, they have several different options like Nutrisystem for men, as well as variants designed for vegetarians, and even diabetic dieters.
2. Make time for exercise in your daily schedule.
Exercise is a powerful tool for staying fit, improving your mood, and warding off disease. If you want to live a long, healthy life, working out is a must. There are all kinds of great ways to exercise, so if you’re not a fan of the gym, don’t resign yourself to a sedentary lifestyle yet. You can go for walks, ride a bike, join an adult sports league, or take up a martial art, to name just a few ideas. If you’re just starting an exercise routine, don’t push yourself too hard at first. Instead, aim to create a sustainable routine that you enjoy, and slowly increase the intensity of your workouts as you get fitter.
3. Make sleep a priority.
Sleep makes a huge difference in your health and your overall quality of life. You’re more likely to feel cranky and depressed when you’re sleep-deprived, and your immune system doesn’t fight off infections as well. These ideas can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep:
- Don’t watch TV, eat, or work in your bedroom. Reserve your bedroom just for sleep.
- Avoid consuming caffeine after 2 PM.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark.
- Buy a comfortable mattress.
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
- Stop using electronics one to two hours before bedtime.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading a book or taking a bath.
4. Take time to relax on a regular basis.
Constant stress is terrible for your mental health. It also elevates your cortisol levels, which increases your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and weight gain. Stress management is a major part of a healthy lifestyle, so don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself regularly. Set aside half an hour or so every day to meditate, read, or do something else relaxing. Making time to unwind will make you happier and more productive the rest of the time.
5. Stay hydrated.
Most people don’t drink enough water. The effects of dehydration aren’t always obvious, but over time, not getting enough fluids can make you feel fatigued and irritable. Dehydration also dries out your skin and can give you a headache. So how much water should you be drinking every day? That varies, but in general, smaller people need at least half a gallon daily, while bigger people might need up to a gallon. At a minimum, aim to drink eight glasses of water every day. You can count herbal tea towards your daily water total, too.
6. Protect yourself from the sun.
Sun exposure can age your skin and increase your risk of some types of cancer. Protect yourself by using sunscreen every day (even in the winter) and covering up with hats and jackets on very sunny days.
7. Have an active social life.
People are social by nature, and loneliness can have devastating impacts on a person’s health. Studies have found that seniors who are lonely are more likely to develop a number of different diseases, including heart disease and dementia. In fact, loneliness is as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes every day! If you don’t have an active social life, reach out to your family and friends more often. You can also meet new people through clubs, classes, and volunteering.
Avoid Smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and using illicit drugs are some of the most damaging things you can do for your health. Drink alcohol in moderation if you decide to drink at all, and stay away from cigarettes and drugs altogether.
If you want to be healthier, it’s time to take action. It’s surprisingly easy to adopt little habits that make big changes in your overall well-being. Pick one or two of these habits to focus on, and see how you feel in a month – you might notice a big difference!