A lot of people don’t appreciate their health and the consequences might be costly. In some cases, the changes might be unnoticeable until one day you experience symptoms that had been developing for years. In other cases, you might avoid changing your habits and let health problems progress because it’s not an easy task. Indeed, the realization that everything you do impacts your health seems terrifying but also means that every small adjustment can be a step towards an improvement.
In this article, you’ll find several tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle that focus on your wellness.
Ways To Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important because it has a positive impact on both your present and future. It improves your mood, allowing you to reach your potential and builds resilience that helps you get through difficult times. In the long run, it prevents chronic diseases and extends your lifespan. If you want to make a change in your life, you can start today with one or more of these steps:
- Identify unhealthy habits
Have you heard of the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day?’ As you’re reading this article, you should employ the same mindset. No matter how much we try and hope to change all our habits overnight, it’s a gradual process that has to be introduced to your lifestyle one step at a time. Having high expectations will only add to your frustration and might make you more likely to give up on your goal altogether. So, before you move on to the next tips, make sure you identify your unhealthy habits to come up with a realistic plan. Pay attention to your schedule and behaviors the next few days and write down any habits you’ve observed. Once you’ve highlighted a few things you want to change, group them into small goals. For example, if you need to work on your sleep schedule, you shouldn’t aim to increase the number of hours and go to bed at the same time straight away. Start by going to bed earlier and earlier each time. You can also consider dividing habits into the ones that have a direct impact on your physical health (such as poor diet) and then habits that affect your mental health (such as neglecting your relationships). Choose a habit that is your highest priority based on the current problems you’re dealing with.
- Improve your diet
Everyone loves food but most people see it as a treat rather than a fuel that helps their bodies function. While your schedule might stand in the way of committing to a regular diet, try to eat meals at the same time each day and don’t skip breakfast – it can affect your concentration and prevent you from being productive. Additionally, you should limit unhealthy food and opt to include plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet as they can regulate your mood and improve symptoms of mental health issues. Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t forget to keep hydrated, especially if you rely on tea or coffee to get by because not drinking enough water negatively affects your mood, concentration and physical health.
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Exercise has been promoted mainly as a way to lose weight and remain a desirable size, which is why a lot of people might feel too discouraged to include it in their routine. But the overlooked benefits are the most important ones. Firstly, exercising can do wonders for your mental health as it boosts your mood thanks to the feel-good hormones. If you’ve ever heard of the ‘runner’s high’, you know what I’m talking about. But apart from the euphoric feelings, it can create, regular physical activity can also keep you safe from various diseases such as osteoarthritis, diabetes and dementia. To add a bit of movement to your routine, start from a light physical activity like yoga and if it makes you feel good, you can explore other ways to keep fit.
While it might seem that social media is great for your self-esteem as you can receive instant validation as soon as you post a photo, it’s an illusion that can worsen your wellbeing in the long run. It also likely absorbs a lot of your time and prevents you from being productive. The easiest way to break this habit is to track how much time you spend using electronics and reduce it gradually. For more information, refer to our latest article that coves more tips.
As mentioned before, ‘me’ time is extremely important in helping you take your mind off work and focus on yourself. However, it’s the most beneficial when it’s done with purpose. While sitting in front of the TV is a good way to relax, remember to engage in activities that make you feel your pampered and fulfil your needs, and no, the need to know what happens in the next episode of your favorite soap doesn’t count. Rather, you should aim to devote some time to self-care such as having a bath, shaving, taking care of your skin, or cooking homemade meals. You can either come up with your own self-care plan or download an app that can help you choose a schedule according to your needs. Cultivating those activities can also be a great way to practice staying in the present, which you’ll find more about in the next section.
Meditation is a lot more than sitting for a few minutes in silence. It’s a practice that helps you quieten your mind and reduces your stress as result. Additionally, it can teach you how to stay in the present because if you aren’t experiencing every moment of your life, are you truly living? While being fully connected to negative feelings isn’t an inviting prospect, it’s a great way to learn how to process these emotions which allows you to deal with pain more effectively in the future. Meditation techniques range from simple exercises that require you to pay attention to your breath to prevent your mind from wandering, to guided meditation that allows you to follow instructions as they happen. Even if it doesn’t seem to be helping the first time you try, don’t give up. There isn’t one that size fits all and you’ll eventually find something that works for you.
- Flotation therapy
If you’re in favor of more holistic solutions, a good place to start is flotation therapy, which involves a session in a sensory deprivation tank. As intimidating as this idea sounds, removing sensory experiences forces your body into a meditative state that allows you to enjoy a range of mental health benefits such as reduced stress and pain, as well as physical health benefits such as improved skin and hair condition. If you want to kill many birds with one stone, this treatment should make it to the top of your list. However, as it can be pretty costly, remember to develop some daily strategies too. Plus, it will give you a lot more satisfaction if you combat bad habits on your own and gradually work towards improvement.
- Maintain a healthy work/life balance
Whether we want it or not, work absorbs the majority of our time, which is why it’s important to separate professional and personal life. We’ve all been guilty of working over hours and agreeing to one more request because refusal means letting the team down. Putting our feet up has a similar effect – having time for ourselves often generates a feeling of guilt. If you frequently skip relaxation, you might soon find yourself suffering from the long-term effects of stress which can trap you in a cycle where you keep your mind occupied with work to avoid negative emotions. Luckily, it’s never too late to shift your perspective and understand that work shouldn’t be your whole life. Sure, some of us do something we love but everyone needs a break from their passion. To restore your work/life balance, learn how to prioritize your needs. For example, you can schedule a daily ‘me’ time or make sure that you put aside time for meeting friends. Whenever a work-related thought creeps in when you’re at home, refer to healthy distractions such as talking to a loved one. Lastly, you should learn to stick to set work hours – leave after the scheduled time even if you haven’t finished your project. If you work from home, this might be a little trickier but the key here is gradual change and consistency – you need time to develop a habit. Choose a time you’d ideally like to finish work by and then make sure you finish earlier than usual every week until you reach your goal.
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If you don’t remember the last time you felt refreshed upon waking up you aren’t alone. The concept of high-quality sleep is foreign to most people because let’s face it, there aren’t enough hours in a day to manage all the responsibilities and hobbies. Unfortunately, while most of us would give a lot to be left alone for a few hours and catch up on sleep, we rarely prioritize it. And as you’re probably aware, this is a big mistake. Sleep not only helps your body repair and heal but also allows it to function properly. If you're frequently sleep-deprived, you might expect concentration problems, worsened memory, lack of energy and mood changes that make you feel irritable, as well as many medical issues such as high blood pressure or kidney disease. The demands of everyday life make it challenging to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night but there are still adjustments you can introduce to improve your situation. You should aim to go to bed at the same time each night, put your phone away at least an hour before sleep and keep your bedroom dark and cool.
- Learn to listen to your needs and express your emotions
While technological progress has its benefits, it also encourages us to become reliant on stimulation. This dependency benefits social media companies but us, not so much. If you rely on distractions when you feel down, you learn to neglect your needs and emotions. Consider this: if you’ve just been dumped by a partner what’s a more inviting option, scrolling on social media or working through your feelings? Most people go for the former but the problem with suppressing your emotions is that they don’t go away. They bottle up instead. To learn how to connect with your emotions, start keeping a journal where you describe your day and whenever you feel down you can practice writing sentences that start with ‘I feel…’.
- Strengthen your support network
We’re social creatures and socializing remains one of the most important human needs, even if you’re an introvert. This is why the key to living a healthier life is developing a strong support network. It doesn’t mean you have to see your friends regularly but make sure to keep in touch with them and create bonds that can last even when your goals change. Being surrounded by people who care about you can make you feel supported and help you deal with obstacles.
- Improve your self-esteem
Poor self-esteem can significantly reduce the quality of your life. The constant self-criticism might go hand in hand with anger and sadness, and eventually turn into a more serious issue. Additionally, being your own enemy simply makes you unhappy and stands in the way of developing healthy habits. To start a journey towards self-acceptance, you have to learn how to modify your beliefs. For example, people who don’t think highly of themselves also believe that they aren’t good enough or that everyone hates them. If you’ve struggled with low self-esteem for a while, it will be difficult to point out these thoughts but with a bit of practice, you’ll notice how often they arise in your mind. Every time they do, you should try to challenge them – you ARE good enough and people DON’T hate you.
About the Contributor
Joanna Cakala is a multilingual writer based in the UK. Combining a degree in Psychology and passion for writing, she started her freelance journey penning articles on mental health.
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