Maintaining good health is more holistic than simply going to the gym.
With healthy habits, you can start your mornings strong, foster brain growth, and add years to your life.
Work these habits into your routine, and you’ll feel healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.
Start with the basics
1. Sleep is sacred
Quality sleep is the foundation of a healthy day, and you need at least seven hours. Going to bed at the same time every night will help your body settle into a familiar cycle, and you’ll drift off more peacefully if you turn off devices before bedtime.
2. Double your water
Unless you already drink the recommended two litres a day, more water could improve your skin, your muscles, and your mood. Keep a bottle on your nightstand, drink a glass before each meal, and track your intake with an app.
Dynamic stretches like lunges, arm windmills, or toe taps are a great way to get the blood flowing in your first few moments out of bed. Feeling restless at your desk? Stretch it out. And static stretches can be a great way to relax after a long day.
4. Exercise (even a little bit)
Your schedule may not accommodate trips to the gym, and you may dread exhausting workouts. Squeeze activity in by lifting weights while your coffee brews, taking a walk at lunch, or doing sit-ups during TV commercials.
5. Use your energy patterns
Get right to your biggest tasks in the morning while you’re feeling fresh, and you’ll ride that sense of accomplishment all day. Save busy work like sorting through a crowded inbox for the hour after lunch when your focus dips. It’s all about making your productivity work for you.
6. Take a deep breath
Meditating isn’t just for monks on mountaintops. Close your eyes, monitor your breathing, and clear your mind. Five minutes of meditation will help you calm down before a meeting, focus on a big task, or just straighten out your thoughts.
7. Write it out
Journalling has universal health benefits, but you can do whatever makes sense for you. Whether you track habits, sketch out a plan for the day, or reflect on your gratitude, journalling will help you stay present, feel fulfilled, and unlock your best self.
Be smarter about food
8. Plan your meals
Sticking to your shopping list and bringing a packed lunch to work can be good for your wallet, but you’ll also dodge excess fat and sodium loaded up in restaurant meals. Plus, cut down on cooking time by prepping meals on the weekend.
9. Do dishes and clean as you go
This helps you avoid cluttering your kitchen and wasting time on clean-up later. Reuse dishes after a quick scrub and rinse so they don’t crowd the sink, keep the trash can close by, and freeze food waste to compost later.
10. Cook veggies your way
Vegetables (and lots of them) are crucial to a healthy diet. If you don’t like vegetables, there are lots of ways to trick your palette and sneak them in. Try out different recipes and ingredients until you find dishes that suit your tastes.
11. Go vegetarian
It’s good for the environment and your body. Getting more plant-based protein lowers your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk of chronic diseases. You don’t have to be a purist — even cutting meat one or two days a week can help your health.
12. Buy natural
Avoid food products loaded up with artificial sweeteners, which are linked to obesity and heart disease. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit, try a sugar-free jam, pick up honey at your local farmer’s market, and look for all-natural ice cream options.
13. Make small changes
Take baby steps to invest in your health. Ask for salad dressing on the side. Order grilled chicken instead of fried. Experiment with recipe substitutions — you’ll be shocked how good brownies made with cauliflower or black beans can taste.
14. Cut back on booze
Even at happy hour, too many drinks can take a toll on your bank account and load you up with unnecessary carbs. Most experts recommend sticking to one or two drinks per day. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to have fun while sober.
Live life to the fullest
15. Be kind to your wallet
Skip Starbucks and make your own coffee. Collect coupons, and stick to your grocery list. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use. Small habits to help save money can also bring you peace of mind. Try these failsafe ways to save money.
16. Find green spaces
Nature is calming. Take walks through the park, settle under a tree with a good book on your afternoon off, make plans to go hiking with friends. The clean air, reduced noise and sunlight can improve your health and put you in a good mood.
Taking care of a pet can help you keep up a routine, hold you accountable for managing your time, and just bring joy into your life. Dogs give you a great excuse to get some exercise, but a cat, a hamster, a snake, or even some fish can be fulfilling. Spending time with pets is also good for your mental wellbeing.
18. Learn something new
Acquiring a new skill keeps your mind fresh well into old age, helps you connect with others, and satisfies the natural human thirst for knowledge. Set monthly goals, and then take time each day or week to expand your mind.
19. Keep things fresh
Getting stuck in the work grind can be devastating. Even if you love what you do, it’s important to make time for socialising, relaxing, and trying new things. To break the monotony, take a class, join a club, and be open to spontaneity. Life will surprise you!
20. Build community
Find others who share your passions, hold friends accountable for their own healthy habits, and surround yourself with people who empower your success. Humans are social creatures, and we thrive on healthy, loving interactions.
Whether you’re guffawing at a stand-up comic, chuckling during your favorite show or doubled over with your friends, laughter can relieve stress, improve your mood and bolster your immune system. The health benefits of laughter are really serious.
This article was written by Meredith Lepore and originally published on The Ladders.