Becoming more healthy needn’t be a massive project that involves a major life overhaul. It is often easier to overhaul our lives by making one small change at a time. There are plenty of little tweaks and adjustments you can make which over time can make a big difference to your overall health. Here are 25 simple things you can begin to add to your life here and there to improve your overall health:
Drink more water.
Your body is 90% water, and if you don’t get enough, it can leave you feeling rubbish. Often when we’re feeling tired or achey, we have a headache, or even if we think we’re hungry a glass of water can actually be what’s lacking. Aim for at least 2 litres per day, and see how you feel after a couple of weeks. That said, there is no point in getting to 8pm and downing 2 litres of water; your body can’t use it, and you’ll just end up getting up to go to the toilet all night. Instead, set a reminder on your phone (or download an app to remind you) and drink little and often throughout the day.
When we become stressed often the first thing to take the hit is our breathing. Our breaths become shallow, and this can exacerbate the physiological effects of stress. It’s not exactly easy to make a new habit to breathe properly all the time, but you can make yourself a ritual to “Stop - Inhale - Reset” before entering a room, or every time you go to the toilet. Link it to something you do several times a day, so that you are reminded to take a few deep breaths each time.
Walk as much as possible.
It can be hard to fit in regular gym visits when we’re busy, but walking is something we can all add to our lives. We’ve all heard the advice about getting off the bus a stop early or taking the stairs rather than the lift, but why not start arranging to meet people for a walk around the park rather than for a coffee? Invest in a fitness tracker, and look for ways to increase your daily step count!
Eat your meals with no distractions.
Switch off the TV; put your phone on silent; switch the computer off. Just sit and concentrate on your eating. You may well find that you eat less when you’re not distracted, and your digestion will be better too.
Floss your teeth.
Get into the habit of flossing after you brush. This is good for your teeth and gums, but also a study has shown that flossing may play a role in preventing heart disease.
Take your sleep seriously.
Sleep is about so much more than just not being tired the next day. Research has linked poor sleep to an increased risk of dementia, and not getting enough sleep can also affect everything from your concentration to your weight. Take a look at our blog about natural ways to cure sleep problems, and resolve to get better sleep.
Book in screen free time.
It’s so easy to end up looking at a screen from the moment we wake until we go to sleep, but that’s really not good for us. Try to find times during the day where you can read a book or have a conversation instead. It sounds simple but it can really make a difference to our overall wellbeing if we’re able to unplug ourselves from that digital world for a while.
Snack between meals.
It turns out the concept of getting “hangry” is a real thing, and snacking on healthy foods such as vegetables or nuts can help to stabilise both your blood sugar and your mood.
Stop to smell the flowers.
How often do we ever allow ourselves the time to stop and smell flowers? It’s something we rarely think to do, but it can really help to calm and ground us. That deep inhalation of breath helps to slow us down and relax us, but also smelling flowers is natural aromatherapy, with molecules of essential oils entering the sensory system.
Take up dry skin brushing.
Before you shower each morning, use a brush with natural bristles to brush from your extremities towards your heart in small circles. This boosts your blood circulation and your lymphatic drainage system to help eliminate the buildup of toxic waste in your tissues. This can also help to boost your energy and is a great way to start your day.
Talking of ways to start your day, consider a cold shower.
You don’t have to have your entire shower in freezing water, but studies have shown that people who turn the water to cold at the end of their shower are more resistant to both colds and depression. Cold water on the brown fat of your shoulder blades and chest can also help to increase your metabolism and ward of obesity.
End your day with an Epsom salt bath.
Epsom salts will be absorbed through your skin and help to increase your magnesium levels. This will help to relax your muscles and reduce any pain you have. As well as this, it helps toxins to leave your body. Magnesium is needed for hundreds of cellular functions within the body, but the majority of us are deficient in it. You’ll probably find that after an Epsom salt bath you sleep like a log.
Plan your meals ahead.
5pm on a Monday after a terrible day at work is the worst time to decide what to eat for dinner. Whether you’re cooking for the whole family or just for yourself, plan ahead and ensure everything you need is in the fridge and waiting for you, so that you don’t need to make any decisions when you’re feeling tired and fed up.
Cut back on sugar - but don’t replace it with artificial sweeteners.
If you take sugar in your tea or coffee, instead of replacing it with sweeteners try adding more milk. Milk has lactose which is a natural sugar and much better for you than table sugar. Sugar has been linked to everything from skin problems to weight gain and heart disease. Cutting back as much as possible can only be good for your health.
Calm your mind.
We’ve blogged about mindfulness in the past; it’s something that can really benefit your mental and physical health in the modern, fast-paced world. Take a look at this blog for suggestions on how to incorporate mindfulness into your life.
Buy a colouring book.
Adult colouring is a big thing these days, and you might think it’s a ridiculous new fad… well, it kind of is - except that colouring can be a great way to get started in mindfulness if you’re really struggling with it. These days you can pick up an adult colouring book from any newsagent or even your local supermarket. Buy one and spend a little time each day colouring. You may find that it helps you to relax by taking your mind off the things that have been bothering you.
Cut back your caffeine intake.
That might sound horrific, especially if you aren’t sleeping well. But too much caffeine can lead to a vicious cycle where the caffeine keeps us awake so we’re unable to sleep, so we’re tired the next day and take on more caffeine. Choose a weekend when you can relax (and perhaps nap), and cut out as much caffeine as you dare. Once you get over that initial hump of being exhausted, you might find that your body copes better without the artificial stimulant.
Take a nap.
Napping is not just something for toddlers and OAPs; it can have significant benefits for all of us. Winston Churchill saw Britain through the Second World War while still having a nap every day. Other famous nappers include John F Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, JRR Tolkien and Haruki Murakami. Sleep scientists have shown that even a short nap can help to recharge your mental batteries, leaving you more alert and even more creative. A nap should not replace a good night’s sleep, but it can work wonders in helping you to get through a long, stressful day.
Take a good quality vitamin supplement.
People will tell you that if you eat your “5-a-day” you will get all of the vitamins and minerals you need, but that’s only partially true. For starters, many of us misunderstand the “5-a-day” guidelines and portion sizes. And in many other countries the recommendation is closer to 8 or 10 portions of fruit and vegetables. Then there is the variety of what we’re eating, and the quality of that food and the soil it is grown in. A good quality multivitamin is a great way to ensure we’re getting what we need, especially of things like Vitamin D, which most experts agree all British people need to supplement their intake of.
Increase your intake of the right fats.
Throughout the 1980s we were advised to avoid all fat, but in actual fact a diet that is high in the right types of fat can be incredibly good for us. Fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K can’t be absorbed into our bodies without fat, and we need it for all manner of functions within the body. Examples of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, eggs and olive oil.
Eat more garlic.
Or, if you don’t want to smell of it, buy odourless capsules. Garlic is a great way to support your body’s natural defences. If you’ve had a course of antibiotics you might find that your stomach is unsettled for a while afterwards but eating more garlic will help to replace the healthy bugs in your intestines and settle you down. It’s also great for warding off colds, lower cholesterol and improve circulation.
Follow the 2/30 rule.
People who watch more than 2 hours of TV per day eat more, and of the wrong things (sugary drinks, processed snack foods etc) than those who watched less. The 2/30 rule suggests limiting TV viewing to 2 hours per day, and getting in 30 minutes of movement each day too.
Smell an orange.
Really! Studies have shown that the smell of oranges can reduce stress, improve mood and even make you feel more awake and alert. Our De-Stress therapy balm includes mandarin essential oil to help you to chill out.
Order groceries online rather than going to the shop - and do it on a full stomach.
This way you will be less likely to be tempted by the unhealthy snacks shops often have on offer at eye level on shelves. Grocery shopping online gives you the chance to stop and think about whether you really need those crisps or chocolate bars, and if you play your delivery for a couple of days’ time, it means that even if you’ve impulsively filled your trolley with junk food, you can go back later and remove it.
Maintaining an attitude of gratitude really is a fantastic way to improve your overall health. In a recent blog we talked about how being grateful can make you happy and happiness can help us to feel and become much more healthy.