The trend in society nowadays is to become healthier, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. When you take the necessary steps to become healthier, you feel happier, you have more energy, and when bad times come (and they certainly do!) then you are better able to deal with them.
Both physical and mental/emotional health play major roles in your overall sense of well-being, and they are deeply connected. If you want to find the healthier you, don’t neglect any part of yourself. I have focused on these seven steps in those two categories. These are not the only steps you will take on your journey for a healthier you, but they are great starting points!
1. Choose Water
If you want to find the healthier you, one of the first steps you should take is to choose water! The benefits of choosing water over any other drink are numberless. If you are concerned with losing or maintaining a healthy weight, one of the best things you can do is drink water.
Humans used to rely on water alone to provide for their hydration needs. Now there are so many choices to be had and some of them are better than others. From coffee and tea to sodas and sports drinks, the options for hydration are countless and more are introduced every day. It can be difficult to figure out how to stay hydrated and healthy, so scientists from across the U.S. got together to study and put together a list of guidelines for choosing healthy beverages.
They found that water was the best thing to drink. It provides everything your body needs to stay hydrated without adding anything unnecessary! You can find the full article here. Check it out! You’ll be surprised about the hazards of drinking anything but water.
2. Get Up and Move
I hate that dreaded “e” word: exercise. It makes movement and physical activity sound like such a chore! The truth is that living an active lifestyle can be awesome. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Regular, physical activity is one of the most important things that you can do for your health.”
Regular, physical activity can:
- Help control your weight.
- Reduce your risk for contracting conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
- Make (and keep) your muscles, bones and other organs strong and healthy.
- Help you sleep better.
- Improve your mood and sense of well-being.
- Increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life.
When you take this step towards uncovering the healthier you, remember to take it slow. You shouldn’t rush into physical activity. You’ll hurt yourself mentally, as well as physically. Nothing tells your mind that “exercise is bad” better than hurting yourself on your first day. We want the message our brain is getting about physical activity to be a positive one.
Do things you enjoy doing for the same reason. If you absolutely abhor running, then don’t! If you find you enjoy exercising with friends, pick up a sport or take a class. When you do something that you enjoy, you are more likely to be successful.
Talk with your doctor about the options you have for adding physical activity to your life in a healthy way. Just remember to get up and move!
3. Eat More, Not Less
The key to eating healthier is to eat more healthful foods. You will find greater success in your goals for eating healthy when you do this, rather than restrict your intake of unhealthy foods.
One study (quoted here) states that calorie-limiting diets can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. That hormone plays a huge role in how much belly fat you accumulate. The study also stated that the negative effects of calorie-restricting diets likely makes these ineffective at promoting weight-loss and health.
Focus on the positive. Choose to reinforce your new eating habits by making them fun. Eat more good foods. When you put those good foods in your grocery basket and your body, there will be less room for the bad ones.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Sleep affects how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis, and can have a major impact on our overall quality of life.”
When you sleep well, your body goes through a complex process where it heals, restores, and generally resets things in your body. It’s just like when you leave your computer on for too long without restarting it. Your computer starts to slow down, and programs start malfunctioning. It gets really frustrating. That same thing happens with your body. Be sure and hit the reset button every night. You’ll be one step closer to uncovering the healthier you!
For tips on how to create healthy sleeping habits, head on over to the National Sleep Foundation’s website, and read their article “Healthy Sleep Tips”.
5. Choose Positive Relationships
One of the most important ways to improve your mental health is to have (and create) positive, supportive relationships with other people. Humans are hard-wired to need each other emotionally. We need the company of others in order to feel our very best.
Here are some ways to improve (or find) positive, supportive relationships:
- Be a good listener. When you listen well to others, you will find that good listeners are also drawn to you. You and the people you associate with will then be better able to express yourselves emotionally, without fear, and feel healthier.
- Find time daily to have face-to-face interactions with people you like. “Screens” have their place and their purposes, but building and maintaining healthy relationships has to account for the fact that communication is largely non-verbal. In order to feel the full effects of a positive relationship in your life, you need to physically interact with other positive human beings.
- Get rid of toxic people. You’ll know you’re in a toxic relationship if you dread being around a person, if a person is negatively affecting your other relationships, or if a person “invades” your space, be it physical or mental. Toxic relationships will suck the life out of you, and you need to nix those if you want to feel healthy.
6. Manage Stress
Stress is your body’s natural, subjective reaction to different situations. When a stress-stimulator enters your life, your body flips a biological switch. Certain chemicals are released in order to help you rise to the challenge.
Not all stress is bad. In fact, a little bit of the right kind of stressors will keep you sharp and on top of the world. The problem arises when we spend too much time in this heightened state of being (chronic stress), or when the stress is too extreme (acute stress).
In order to manage the stress in your life, the first thing you’ll need to do is identify your stress triggers. Then you can avoid them or change your response to them. For a great article on reducing stress, visit this site.
7. Revitalize Your Spirit
Everyone has experienced what it feels like when our spirits are down in the dumps. Life is dark and dreary, dissatisfaction abounds, and you feel burnt out. Most times, a tired spirit results in depression, bad eating habits, and a lack of desire to do the things you need to do in order to be healthy.
In order to rejuvenate your spirit, you’ll need to:
- Do a little soul searching. Find out what you love to do, what you love to eat, and who you love to be with, etc. Surround yourself with these things. This can refer to books, music and movies, as well as people and even your job.
- Have an attitude of gratitude. You will find unexpected joy when you humble yourself enough to be thankful for everything in your life. Start by giving thanks at mealtime. You don’t have to believe in God or say a prayer to express thanks for a meal. That is the easiest way to begin.
- Practice self care. When you take care of yourself, whether you get a professional massage or just give yourself a pedicure, you can experience a real boost in your sense of well-being.
There are more things you can do that will benefit your overall health. Things like laughter, taking care of your teeth and making sure your body is getting the right vitamins and nutrients can all improve your quality, and quantity, of life.
No matter what you decide to to, if you’ve made a goal to find the healthier you, stick to it! Take manageable steps. When you make a “mistake” and fall off the wagon, be sure to get up, dust yourself off, and try again! You can do it!