Big changes to your diet or exercise habits are time-consuming and make your busy life feel even more hectic. Rather than focusing on large, sweeping changes, here are five small steps you can take right now to improve your health.
This first tip is the one that might take a chunk out of your schedule, but what you lose in time you’ll gain back in productivity. A survey by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that almost one third of adults admit they never get enough sleep, which can lead to difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, and chronic zombie-itis. The body’s natural sleep cycle, known as the REM cycle, is typically around 90 minutes long, so try to sleep in multiples of 1.5 hours. Most people function well on 7.5 hours of sleep per night, but you might feel better after 9.
There’s no one-size-fits-all guideline for food or liquid intake, but don’t let that stop you from staying hydrated. Try drinking a glass of water along with your morning coffee, sipping from a reusable water bottle as you go about your day, and taking frequent water breaks at work or school. Getting up to visit the drinking fountain or water cooler can also help you with the next tip.
It’s hard to find time to exercise to improve your health, and going to the gym or working out at home can feel like a chore. Try incorporating movement into your regular routine, like taking an extra lap around the office when you get up for that coffee refill. If you sit at a desk for work, stand up at least once every 30 minutes. If you’re on your feet for most of the day, do a few gentle stretches to keep your body loose. Pay attention to your posture, and make sure the muscles in your stomach are supporting your upper body. If you can keep your body moving, you’ll find it easier to get started on those 7.5 hours of sleep every night.
Try Something New
This tip is the most fun to follow. You could find a relaxing hobby like knitting or playing the latest version of Angry Birds on your phone, or you could do something active to improve your health like sign up for a Zumba class after work. But even if you’re not ready for that kind of commitment, do something a little different to change your routine. Look for a new dinner recipe, or bake some cookies to share at work. Learn about a new sport and watch a game on TV. By taking teeny steps outside of your comfort zone, you’ll force your brain to learn and adapt to different circumstances. You’ll also enjoy a feeling of accomplishment when you successfully navigate an unfamiliar situation.
Count the Good
We all feel pressure to improve ourselves and strive for perfection in our lives. Even if you’re not the type to make promises to yourself, you’re probably looking for ways to change the things that make you unhappy. The next time you find yourself worrying about what isn’t perfect, take a deep breath and think about something that is totally satisfying in your life.
Are you a team player with a great group of co-workers? Does your family dog greet you with kisses and tail-wags every time you come home? Do you have a friend who is always there for you and understands you perfectly, even when you don’t say a word? Big or small, there are things about you that you’d never change. Instead of wishing you were different, focus on the things in your life that are perfect just the way they are. Having a positive attitude is a big kick start of to improving your health.