Did you know that simple habit changes can lead to big life changes?
If you’re looking for simple ways to improve your health, then it’s important to start paying attention to the little things you do everyday.
Below are a few of the most important simple changes you can make to improve your mental and physical health:
Get enough sleep
Sleep is one of the three “basics” of life (or at least in my opinion). The other two are nutrition and movement, and you’ll see me mention them a lot around here.
Sleep does greatly influence your life though. If you don’t get enough you’ll definitely feel some negative effects. I know I do. When I don’t sleep enough my physical performance (working out) lags and my patience is slim. Plus, when we get sleepy we tend to eat more/crave sugar or caffeine, both of which can compound into adverse health effects.
Exhaustion and stress are very common, which is why it’s so important to prioritize a good night of sleep.
Reduce screen time
Many people spend long hours in front of a screen at work, to only go home and spend even more time in front of a tv or phone. Screens can cause discomfort such as dry eyes, fatigue, headaches, and blurred vision.
Screens before bed can also effect your sleep by disturbing your melatonin levels and natural circadian clock. If you can, try avoiding screens completely a couple hours before bed, but at the very least wear a cute pair of blue light blocking glasses! I use this pair and I find that I can sleep through the night much better!
Correct your posture
How often do you correct your posture? Another problem from sitting/staring at a screen throughout the day is poor posture. Slouching over your desk or with your neck bent down causes muscles in the back and neck to tighten and shorten. This can lead to back pain, headaches, poor balance, and possibly even a hunchback.
While several of these health effects can be corrected, it’s best to prevent them. While standing, be sure your shoulders are pulled back and your neck is aligned with your spine. While you’re sitting, it’s best to be eye level with your computer, feet flat on the floor, and sitting upright.
Don’t be sedentary for too long
There have been many studies done that have determined the adverse health effects of sitting too often. Prolonged sitting increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, DVT, cancer, varicose veins, and so on. It can also decrease your lifespan and reverse any exercise you may do.
If your job requires a lot of sitting, try to make an effort to stand/walk every hour. If you work at a desk, maybe you could get a standing or walking desk! Otherwise, wear a watch that reminds you when you’ve been to sedentary too long or set an alarm for yourself. Spend a few minutes each hour walking, standing, stretching, etc.
Wear sunscreen daily
Sunscreen is important year round, and yes even on rainy, cloudy days! Sun and UV damage can still occur through clouds.
It’s best to use a sunscreen with an spa of 15 or 30 daily, but if you’re really going to be in the sun it should probably be higher. Applying sunscreen daily helps prevent sun damage and spots, premature wrinkles, and of course skin cancer.
Do keep in mind that you should try your best to use a sunscreen lotion with natural ingredients that suit your skin type!
Decrease portion sizes
America is well-known for their absurd portion sizes. Many of us ignore the recommended serving size for most things we eat, however, this leads to weight gain. Trust me, I’m super guilty of huge portion sizes, it’s almost like I don’t get full.
Learning when your stomach is “full” or content is key here.
Here’s a few tips to consume less:
-When cooking, only cook the recommended serving size, plus whatever you need for lunch
-Don’t put a whole pan of food at the dinner table. Instead just add the serving to your plate in the kitchen and go eat at the table.
-Drink water before, during, and after a meal to fill your stomach up
-Eat slowly. When you eat quickly you eat more food without realizing that you’re full.
-Eat large volume foods (foods high in micronutrients but low in calories), such as non-starchy vegetables! You can consume a huge bowl of greens which will definitely fill you up without packing on the calories.
Stop drinking your calories
What do you usually drink throughout the day? Coffee? Juice? More coffee? Soda? What about water??
Most drinks are filled with sugar and extra calories. Soda provides no nutritional value and juices usually contain a ton of added sugar or flavors. Plus, depending on the coffee you order you could be drinking hundreds of calories!
Wouldn’t you rather eat real food?
Aim to drink just water throughout the day and only ONE cup of coffee. It may take some getting used to but cutting out sugary drinks can make drastic changes to your body. If you need to add flavor, try slicing up fresh fruit to put in your water!
Take a multivitamin
While you should aim to eat all of the required vitamins and minerals, that’s not always realistic for everyone. Be sure to supplement your diet with a healthy and well-researched multivitamin. Personally, I take and recommend Ritual multivitamins. For a full review you can read this post, and to read about all the vitamins I take read this post.
It’s worth it to get a blood test every so often to see what your body may need!
Take a probiotic
Another important supplement is a probiotic. Gut health is very undervalued these days, and I think a lot more people are suffering with poor gut health than they know. Alcohol, sugar, antibiotics, not enough diversity of foods, and lack of exercise can all effect your gut.
The microflora in your gut could be way off if you’re experiencing bloating, upset stomach, diarrhea, headaches, and even mental health issues. There are foods that are naturally a probiotic, but I think it’s still important to take one daily to maintain good gut flora!
Stop watching the news
There’s a lot of bad things that happen around the world, but unfortunately the media loves to share it all over and over again. In college I used to watch the news in the morning, but I found that it was draining and made me sad or stressed. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid breaking news, but do yourself a favor and stop watching/reading it!
If you start implementing these simple changes, you’ll likely see some positive effects in your life. Choose one or a few to change and let me know how you feel!