There are all kinds of things you can do to improve your health from starting an exercise program to overhauling your eating habits. But those big changes often take time and planning and sometimes you need a “quick win.” You can try one or more of the following simple things TODAY to help improve your health in a small way.
- Drink some water. The notion that everyone needs 8 glasses of water a day is outdated but most of us still don’t drink enough. The amount of water you need is dependent on your size, activity level and even where you live. A good rule is .5-1.0 ounce of water per pound of body weight. If you’re mostly sedentary and live in a cooler climate, you can stick to the lower end of that range and if you are very active and live in a warmer climate, you may need more. Staying hydrated keeps chemical processes in your body, like your metabolism, moving along and it keeps your kidneys functioning well and reduces or eliminates constipation. Drinking water throughout the day is better than gulping down 6 glasses at dinner. Keep a water bottle handy all day or set reminders in your phone so you can space it out. Most of us wake up dehydrated so drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning (yes, even before your coffee!) can get the rehydration started.
- Add a serving of fresh produce to your day. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and all-important fiber. Fruits and vegetables help you feel full, boost your energy and help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and a variety of other diseases. All plants have protein so they can be added to your protein total if that’s something you’re tracking. Getting more produce in your day can be as simple as munching an apple or carrots on your commute home, adding some spinach or mushrooms to your morning omelet, or eating a handful of berries after dinner. And don’t forget about nuts and seeds! They’re not considered produce but they are plant-based foods that provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. Sprinkle sunflower or pumpkin seeds on your salad or toss a handful of almond slivers into your morning oatmeal.
- Spend some time outside. Spending time in nature can lower stress, improve your mood, help your body create vitamin D and strengthen your immune system. And I’m not talking about the walk from your car to the office! Getting as little as 10 minutes of intentional time in nature can change your whole day. Eat your lunch outside, take a walk before work, or sit on the patio in the evening. Hopefully, you can enjoy some plant life or green space while outside but even if that’s not possible, just being out in the sunlight will still provide plenty of benefits.
- Practice a daily form of meditation. This can be prayer, journaling, breathing exercises, calming movement such as yoga or tai chi, sitting quietly in thought or repeating a mantra. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just that it works for you. Mindful meditation can help relieve stress and anxiety, help you focus, calm you down and rebalance your emotions. If done in the morning, it can set the intention for your day and if done in the evening, it can wash away the stress of the day and help you settle for a good nights sleep. Which brings us to the last thing you can do today…
- Go to bed earlier. Easier said than done, I know! Many people choose to sacrifice sleep in the name of being more productive but consider this: Getting a little bit more sleep each night will actually keep your brain sharper and boost your mood which can ultimately make you more productive. Your nightly sleep amount can vary a bit from night to night without causing too much concern but if you consistently get 6 hours or less of sleep, consider altering your routine to get yourself to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each week until you hit 7-8 hours regularly.
Strive to add one or more of these simple things today and make small steps toward better health.