Healthy living is all the rage now. You’ve heard a thousand times that it includes good nutrition, exercise, enough sleep and taking care of your mental health. However, figuring out your first step might be tricky. There’s an excessive amount of information out there. And yes, we’re adding to that. But we will provide some actionable ideas you can experiment with, rather than rigid rules.
10 Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Living
1. Set a routine
Our brain works on two levels: the quick, intuitive level, and the slow, deliberative level. The slow, deliberative function of the brain requires a lot of energy and time to do its work. So setting a routine means you spend less time and energy figuring out what to do next, leaving more resources for the task at hand.
Establishing a routine isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but, according to behavioral designer Nir Eyal, you can schedule in whatever you need, even a 15-minute social media break—provided that you plan those breaks around your primary tasks.
A routine helps structure your day, especially if you’re working from home and there’s no commute or rhythm of office life to provide those cues. Setting your routine can help you maintain a positive attitude, resist distractions and get more done.
2. Make to-do lists
Whether you’re in the camp of “if it’s not on my calendar it doesn’t get done,” or you’re sort of allergic to lists, organizing your tasks for each day according to urgency and importance will help keep you focused. Plus, the satisfaction of another item crossed off can be exhilarating. A big bonus is that your list can also help you regain focus when the day becomes a bit of a circus. The Bullet Journal method is an efficient and aesthetically pleasing way to keep your notes and lists neat and minimal.
3. Prep meals and snacks ahead of time for healthy eating
Preparing healthy food ahead of time will help you maintain a healthy diet during the day. Also, you’ll be less tempted to skip meals or reach for unhealthy snacks throughout the day. Not eating seems more efficient at the time, but your brain and your body need fuel. Good fuel. If you plan ahead, you can make budget-friendly foods that will carry you through the week. Maybe your go-to is low-fat and whole grains or you want to avoid trans fats. Fresh fruits and vegetables that are low in sugar are a quick and easy choice. Contrary to what the case used to be, many healthy food options for the microwave are available that actually look and taste great. Helping your future self by doing the work now will pay off big time.
4. Exercise efficiently
Yes, it’s possible. You don’t have to work out for hours to benefit from exercise. Since getting to the gym in the time of COVID-19 may be impossible, try some 10-minute, at-home exercises that don’t require equipment. You can even combine strength and cardio in the same workout. Certainly, exercise can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack as well as cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. But it also works wonders for mental health. According to researchers, “aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression.” Some of the many health benefits of regular exercise include:
- Improved sleep
- Increased self-esteem
- Increased interest in sex
- Better endurance
- Stress relief
- Improvement in mood
- Increased energy and stamina
- More energy that can increase mental alertness
- Weight loss
- Lower blood pressure
Please assess your risk factors and seek medical advice if needed before starting any new workouts. The World Health Organization recommends daily walks, so that’s an easy option. It’s okay to start small and work your way up. Just start.
5. Keep a full water bottle nearby
The idea is not to keep you sitting, of course, but that you’ll drink more water. And having it within reach will make it that much easier to stay well-hydrated. Infuse it with some fruit! Then get up to refresh it once or twice a day. For a change of flavor, consider sipping on some kombucha or other wellness drinks. If you’re feeling sleepy or hungry, you may be dehydrated, so try some water before grabbing something to eat. That’s an easy trick to avoid overeating.
6. Keep moving (or at least not sitting) while you work
WFH life can easily become sedentary. Physical activity takes a nosedive when you’re on calls all day. Try a standup desk to at least get you on your feet. That alone brings health benefits like improved circulation. Walk in place to get your steps in! Check out these desk exercises for more ideas. Another option is to get a stationary pedal exerciser to keep your legs moving. New health information from the CDC and other organizations comes out all the time regarding the benefits of even a little physical activity instead of sitting for 8+ hours a day. The impacts on body weight and overall health are enormous, considering how little effort it takes.
7. Get enough sleep
Sleep is an important part of wellness and taking care of yourself. Getting the right amount of sleep (between 7 and 8 hours, typically, for most adults) has all-around health benefits for your mind and body:
- Get sick less often (stronger immune system)
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Lower your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease
- Reduce stress and improve your mood
- Think more clearly and perform better at work
- Get along better with people
- Make good decisions and avoid injuries (for example, sleepy drivers cause thousands of car accidents every year)
This may not seem like you’re saving or making time, but if you’re healthy and well-rested, you’re going to get more done in a shorter amount of time. And you’ll likely be doing better work if you’re not fighting off yawns or trying to work through the mental fog. Avoid using your electronic devices—laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.—an hour before bed, as blue light from screens can negatively affect your sleep by suppressing the secretion of melatonin. Getting enough sleep is an important part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
8. Wake up a little earlier
This can seem tough when you already feel exhausted all the time. But it doesn’t have to be a lot earlier. Just 15 minutes to an hour could be right. A bit of quiet time in the morning before everyone else is awake (if possible) can give you a great head start on the day. Figure out what works for you and make yourself a priority. Oh, and good coffee helps a lot.
9. Practice self-care, reserve time for yourself
Schedule a meeting with yourself if you have to! Self-care is not being selfish, it’s making the time you need to recharge, mentally, physically and emotionally. Psychologists continue to stress the importance of self-care for reducing and managing stress. Read, run, nap, meditate, journal, drop a bath bomb and soak in a warm bath, sit in the shade and sip your favorite beverage while enjoying a staycation, whatever self-care looks like to you.
10. Make family time active
It’s easy to get caught up in work and your side hustles and start feeling disconnected, even from your family. As with anything important in life, it takes effort. We won’t find the time for a healthy lifestyle, we have to make it. And it helps to develop healthy habits, individually and as a family. Play basketball. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Whatever your family enjoys doing together. Here are some strategies and fun ideas for enjoying active family time.