By: Haillie M.
Most people have had the thought, ‘I want to be healthier,’ at least once. It’s a very common goal – one that, unfortunately, quite commonly tends to fade after a month or two. It’s very easy to envision a healthy person. After all, it seems simple enough; a healthy person eats well, stays active, and gets enough sleep. However, especially in this age of the Internet, the details themselves can get a little cloudy.
Is eating well going on the ketogenic diet, or the paleo diet? What about intuitive eating? Maybe it involves drinking the ubiquitous green juice that’s taking off on TikTok and Instagram? And what about staying active? Some say too much cardio can be harmful, others say too much heavy lifting is bad for you. Even the commonly accepted recommendation that you get eight hours of sleep has been contested. Teenagers may actually need up to 11 hours of sleep!
There’s a wealth of information available out there, and a lot of it directly contradicts itself. Not all these sources are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, either. The truth is that being healthy looks a little different for everyone, but there are small changes people across the board can make – changes that are sustainable in the long term and will contribute to a healthier life, whether intermittent fasting is in or out.
1. Buy (Or Dust Off!) A Reusable Water Bottle With Fill Lines
Most people have heard that an adult should be drinking about eight glasses of water a day, but it can often be hard to visualize how much water that is, and hard to fathom how to fit these eight glasses into your daily schedule. In simple mathematical terms, the daily recommendation is 64 fl oz. (fluid ounces) of water a day for the average active adult – however, this number fluctuates from person to person, and we recommend you contact your doctor if you have any questions about personal water intake. Most household cups don’t come with measurements, however, and it can be hard to know if you’re consuming less or more than 8 fl oz. in a glass.
Not only are reusable water bottles better for the environment than plastic water bottles, they actually take a lot of the guesswork out of hydration. If you know your water bottle carries 32 fl oz., for example, you know that you’re aiming to drink around 2 bottles worth of water during the day. It’s a lot easier to carry around one container and fill it up a few times during the day instead of pouring eight glasses!
2. Eat Your “Colours”
This is a piece of advice you have definitely heard before, but it can be hard for anyone to get enough fruits and vegetables in for a variety of reasons; they can get pretty expensive in some areas, or sometimes they can be hard to find. For young people, living with your parents also means that you tend to eat whatever is on the family grocery list, and fruits and vegetables may not be frequently or abundantly purchased by your family. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the vitamins and electrolytes that fruits and veggies have to offer! Daily multivitamins and electrolyte supplements may be more accessible “colours” to consume in your diet, packing the nutritional punch your body needs to function at its prime.
3. Get Your Steps In
Simply walking to places instead of taking the car has surprising physical and mental benefits. Walking increases blood flow throughout your body, helps you sleep longer at night, and eases stress. In fact, regular physical activity can reduce your risk of becoming depressed by up to 30%. Walking more could even have positive impacts in your educational life, too. Aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or cycling can increase the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that’s responsible for learning and both short-term and long-term memory. A simple 35-minute stroll can help you achieve better mental health, more sleep, and higher test scores, leaving you with more time in your schedule to work on crushing your other goals. This habit could even save you time, as you will be functioning in your most productive state!
4. No Screen Time Before Bed
I know, I hate this one too, but it really does work to regulate your circadian rhythm and help you get the sleep you need. If limiting your screen time one to two hours before bed seems a bit extreme, there’s evidence to suggest turning your devices off just 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep can go a long way. Getting enough sleep is important. Even if you’re getting the recommended eight hours despite turning your phone off moments before your head hits the pillow, your body may not be getting the restoration it needs. Blue light blocks melatonin, the hormone that tells your body to be sleepy, and blue light from phone, laptop, and TV screens can delay the onset of deep sleep. According to TIME, blood flow, glucose levels are regulated during this stage, and plaque associated with the development of Alzheimer’s is cleared from the brain. So, in those last 30 minutes before bed, try reading or meditating instead of checking your phone!
5. Take A Little Time For Yourself
Remember to set aside a little time for yourself each day; it’s hard to feel healthy if you’re always stressed! It’s all too common these days to be “always on” and in perpetual productivity, and sometimes getting enough rest, being well-nourished, well-hydrated, and exercising daily isn’t enough to take your mind off these daily stressors. It certainly doesn’t help that an aspect of the pressure is on being healthy. Sitting and meditating, journalling, listening to music, or just taking time out of your day to do whatever it is that you enjoy can help you identify, isolate, and work through your anxieties, whatever they may be about.
Our minds affect our bodies- sometimes mental concerns may manifest themselves as physical ones. Some research has shown that meditation can cause a reduction in symptoms of fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and irritable bowel syndrome. Meditation carries most of the benefits of the other things on this list- it can improve concentration and memory, improve sleep, and even decrease blood pressure. At the end of the day, even if you do none of the other things on this list, one of the best changes you can make for your health is to spend more time listening to your mind and body for a better lifestyle.
Which tip will you incorporate into your lifestyle first? Leave your answer in the comments below!