At this point, we all know that health is essential. Most of us wouldn't mind feeling a bit more energized, clearer skin, fewer mood swings as well as the physical capability to do the things we want to. We're pretty much all in agreement. This being said, wanting to be healthier and knowing how to go about getting healthier are two very different things.
The following will explore some of the simpler things you can do to help you stay healthy and fit. Of course, every person is different, so their medical history and health needs are going to be slightly different. Always listen to your body when incorporating lifestyle changes, and be sure to include them at your own pace. It's better to make a small permanent change than to be perfectly healthy for a single week.
This one sounds so simple; it's easy to doubt the health benefits of it, but breathing through your nose can have a massive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. There are a few things that your body needs to live: food, water, air, and to stay at the right temperature. It turns out that most of us are breathing wrong and have been for a few generations (altering the structure of nasal passageways in the process). Breathing through your nose results in 30% more oxygen being absorbed by your body. That oxygen is used to keep your body functioning optimally. Benefits include a reduction in feelings of stress, overwhelm, anxiety, and depression symptoms as well as a boost to focusing, creativity, concentration, and memory. Your nose is also designed to filter out toxins and particles from the air you're breathing, which results in a reduced risk for lung cancer and other air pollution-related respiratory problems.
If you typically cannot breathe through your nose (as in, even when you don't have a cold, you're congested), this is a sign that you need to fix something. Your body is telling you that you're allergic to something or that the air quality in your home isn't great. Chronically getting less oxygen is extremely bad for you. Take the time to figure out what's causing your congestion and what you can do to eliminate it for good. Go to an allergy doctor if you need to, or keep a journal noting what you've done in a day and how congested you are until a pattern arises.
Yes, we all know we need more sleep, but despite this, most of us aren't doing it. Not too long ago, the average American got nine hours of sleep per night. Sleep helps regulate our hormone systems which influence every aspect of our health and lives. It impacts our mood, energy levels, immune system, relationships, work performance, appetite (and therefore weight gain or weight loss), memory, and ability to heal. What's especially crucial when it comes to working on improving your health is that a good night's rest has been shown to improve your decision-making skills when it comes to choosing healthy foods and feeling motivated to exercise. Make the time. Get the screens out of the bedroom (blue light impacts the circadian rhythm, which ruins sleep quality) and get some much-deserved sleep.
Sitting all day is what most of us have been raised to do. We started in classrooms where we weren't allowed to get up without first asking permission and moved onto jobs where if we're not planted at the desk, it doesn't look like we're working. Of course, sitting is a necessary part of our existence, but this doesn't mean we shouldn't keep an eye on it. At least every half an hour, you should be standing up and moving around. The health enthusiasts behind Health Constitution suggest stretching as part of reducing extended periods of sitting (it also increases blood flow, cultivates calm, and improves mobility). Just 30 seconds of stretching here and there can help combat the negative impacts of sitting all day.
Stress is actually a hormonal response in our system, and this means if we're overloaded with it, our hormones aren't balanced, and our body is struggling to handle that. Studies have connected stress to dozens of chronic illnesses for just this reason. Reducing stress is going to look different for everyone (but we're willing to bet getting rid of a few of the things on your to-do list is going to help). It might mean learning to say no. It might mean finding another job because the one you have is literally breaking you. It might mean yoga, or meditation, or snuggling with a beloved pet. It might mean finally talking to a counselor about your childhood or your debt.
Finding the time to walk in a park or wander through a forest or sit at the water's edge will not only help to drastically reduce that stress we were talking about before, but it will also improve your overall mental and physical health. Studies have even shown that half an hour in forest results in a week-long boost to your immune system. Figure out what sort of nature appeals to you and find a way to get there at least once per week. You don't have to make a big deal out of it—you can read a book on the beach as you listen to the waves slap against the shore, you can sit on a log in the woods and practice breathing through your nose, you can hike, swim, eat, or play manhunt with your friends. Whatever works for you. Just get out into nature.
The above tips are some of the easiest ways to cultivate a healthier lifestyle. Of course, every person is beginning their fitness journey at different points. If one of the above suggestions is too difficult for you, that's okay. Start small by doing what you can and celebrate any small victory. Even sitting for five fewer minutes today than you did yesterday is worth applause. Again, it's better, in the long run, to slowly develop habits that stick than to go all out for a few days and burn out from the sudden changes.
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