by Kevin Jones: There is a variety of things you can do to start improving your health and wellness, from taking a 30-day mental health challenge to changing your diet…
If you are looking to make changes in your life starting today, here are seven ways you can begin improving your health and wellness.
Focus On A Whole, Plant-Based Diet
To kick off with a major life change you can make to improve your health and wellness, I want to recommend that you focus on altering your diet to a plant-based one which emphasized whole, unprocessed foods. I specify unprocessed foods because there are more and more processed vegetarian and vegan products on the market, but that doesn’t make them healthy for you.
Also, by doing this, not only can you reduce your carbon footprint, but a plant-based diet which focuses on whole foods cuts out many of the foods which are known to make weight management and leads to other health difficulties.
Develop Monthly Health Goals
Part of why New Year’s goals tend to fail is because it is difficult to stick to a long term goal without effective milestones.
Say for example that you have the overall goal of losing 40 lbs or more this year. That can be an intimidating goal, especially if the scale is disobliging. Instead of giving up, you can break up your overall goal into manageable monthly goals that help you reach your main goal.
I like to tailor my goals month-by-month, giving me some flexibility in what my focus is every month. If I had the goal of losing 40 lbs in a year, I might set the goals of 5 lbs this month, giving myself some wiggle room as well as setting the goal of working out 4 days a week to help round out my goals.
Take Time To Stretch In The Morning
Taking a little time every morning to do some quick and easy stretches is a great way to start your day. Even a few stretches can help improve your flexibility and help shake off any lingering stiffness you may feel after waking up.
If you have a little more time, you can make your morning stretches into a more mindful activity. By adding a bit of mediation into your daily routine as you stretch, you can enjoy the benefits of stretching and mental centering before you jump into your day.
A lot of us tend to unconsciously slouch, and some people may believe that’s only a problem if you’re spending time with Miss Manners. But, according to the American Chiropractic Association, bad posture can lead to problems such as:
- Increased risk of back pain
- More prone to back injuries
- Decreased flexibility
- Misaligned bones and joints
Throughout the day, check in with yourself and correct your posture as needed. It will take practice to break a bad posture habit, but your back will thank you in the long run. If you need extra help to remember to double-check your posture, you may want to set a few alerts on your phone for times when you know you are going to be sitting or other times where you know you have poor posture.
Stick To A Healthy Sleep Schedule
Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night to fully rejuvenate their bodies. While it is possible to function on less, sleeping under 7 hours can leave you with lower energy levels, tired-looking skin, and lower your metabolism as your hunger hormone production is ramped up to make up for the lack of sleep.
By committing to a healthy sleep schedule that allows you to enjoy enough rest, you can more easily stick to the other health and wellness changes you are hoping to make permanent parts of your life.
Stay Engaged Socially
You don’t need to morph into a social butterfly overnight, but research has shown that there are many health risks associated with those who are socially isolated. Some of the major risks social isolation presents are:
- Increased cognitive decline
- Lower self-esteem
- Decreased lifespan
With these kinds of risks, it is critical to your overall health and wellness that you maintain a level of social engagement. If this is an area where you have struggled, some options you may want to explore to socialize more are:
- Volunteer in an in-person position which has a high level of interaction with others.
- Look for local groups who enjoy your hobby, from a running group to DND players.
- Take time to reach out to family and friends.
Drink More Water
Every part of your body depends on water to survive, to the point where it takes 30-40 days to die of starvation, but most humans die in less than 10 days without water. Yet, plenty of us can think of a time where all we drank was caffeinated drinks, juice, and basically anything except for water.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that men drink 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of water a day and women drink 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of water a day. That way, your body can get rid of waste products, maintain homeostasis, lubricate your joints and provides cushioning, and other benefits.
Also, make sure you are drinking just plain water. While there are plenty of additives you can put into water, when it comes to your health, nothing beats regular water. Though if you want to toss in some fresh fruit and herbs like mint, you can go right ahead.
Once you have mastered these things, you can fine-tune your health and wellness goals, so you can keep living your best possible life.