All of us dream of living a long and fulfilling life. It’s impossible to predict the future, and it’s normal to go through ups and downs. But if you follow these golden rules, you’ll increase your chances of enjoying a healthier, happier you. This summer, make it your goal to boost your mental and physical health. You’ll be amazed at what you achieve in a short space of time.
- Get moving
If you’re a fan of Instagram, or you follow celebrities on social media, you’ll notice that fitness has become incredibly trendy. You don’t need to post gym selfies every day. But moving around more will do you a world of good. Being active isn’t just about sculpting your body and getting rock hard abs. There are so many more benefits to enjoy.
Firstly, let’s take the physical benefits of regular exercise. Working out and getting fit increases circulation, lowers blood pressure, and reduces cholesterol. It also helps to build strength in your muscles and increase your endurance. If you work out frequently, you have a lower risk of a host of life-threatening illnesses. Examples include heart disease, strokes, and many forms of cancer.
Research also suggests that those who exercise on a regular basis sleep better. Exercise tires your body out, but it also releases tension. Many of us struggle to get to sleep at night because we feel worried and anxious. Exercise can help to alleviate these concerns and reduce the risk of insomnia.
Physical activity is also an effective stress-buster. Playing sport or going to the gym takes your mind off stressful events and reduces anxiety. If you stay active, this can also lead to a lower risk of depression.
If you’re not a seasoned gym-goer, the thought of doing exercise may be daunting. But working out is not limited to going to a gym and pumping iron. There are myriad options out there, so you’re bound to find something you enjoy. If you prefer to exercise outside, jog around the park or take up rowing. If you like team sports, join a local hockey, soccer or tennis club. If you fancy learning a new skill, sign up for dance classes or learn to play golf. You’ll often find information about local classes, teams, and groups online.
- Make time for healthy eating
One of the main excuses people give for not sticking to a healthy diet is a lack of time. But healthy eating doesn’t have to involve lengthy preparation or complex culinary skills. You can create simple, nutritious meals in a matter of minutes. You’ll find thousands of recipes online, and you can also take inspiration from your favorite restaurant meals.
If you’re a fast food fan, you don’t need to give up your dish of choice. You can often adapt the recipe to make it healthier. Use turkey mince instead of beef mince for burgers. Swap fries for baked sweet potato wedges. Grill chicken rather than deep frying it. Alter your portion sizes, and add as many vegetables as you can. If you’re looking for inspiration for easy, healthy meals, look at the Hampton Creek Facebook page. Here you’ll find photographs, products, and recipes to help you eat well without spending hours slaving over a hot stove.
Make sure your diet is balanced. A good diet should include all the major food groups. You often hear about fad diets enabling you to lose a huge amount of weight in no time. But these results are unsustainable, and your diet may not be good for your health. Eating well and moving more will help you lose weight steadily, or maintain a healthy weight. Fats are often seen as the enemy, especially by those who are trying to lose weight. But your body needs fat each day. Just make sure you’re consuming the right kinds of fats. Steer clear of trans fats and saturated fats. Go for foods that are rich in essential fatty acids and omega oils instead. Good examples include oily fish, olive oil, and nuts.
Try and make sure you hit your 5-a-day target every day. It might seem like a lot. But bear in mind you can include sauces, soups, and smoothies in your count. Homemade soups, casseroles, and pasta sauces are an easy way to pack in lots of different vegetables.
If you’re busy at work, and this means that you graze at your desk, make a packed lunch the night before. You can take sandwiches, wraps, soups, and salads with you. You’ll save time and money, as well as making sure you have nutritious meals to keep you going until dinner time.
- Learn to cope with stress
So many of us fall foul to stress today. Pressure at work, financial problems, and relationships are common triggers. But even a busy day when you feel like you’re chasing your tail can make you feel panicked. If you feel like you’re getting stressed, it’s beneficial to adopt some coping mechanisms. These will help to ensure a minor problem doesn’t spiral into something much more serious. People respond to stress in different ways. Some thrive under pressure while others crumble. Likewise, we may find different methods of coping effective. For some, time out, a hot bath, and some soothing music work a treat. For others, seeing a therapist may help. Many people find that exercise reduces stress and tension. Some prefer to book a massage or meditate. Find out what works for you, and employ these strategies if you detect triggers.
Stress affects us all. But it’s not normal to feel under constant pressure. If you feel stressed all the time, or your stress has become more severe, seek help. Your doctor may be able to recommend treatments and therapies to tackle stress and prevent problems in the future.
- Get enough sleep
If you surveyed a room full of people, you’d find that many experience sleep problems. A good night’s sleep doesn’t just make you feel great. It’s also really important for your physical and mental wellbeing. During sleep, your body goes through essential processes to enable it to recover from the previous day and prepare for the day ahead. In the short-term, missing out on sleep can make you cranky and tired during the day. But in the long-term, the effects may be much more profound. You may find that you’re more susceptible to illness and infection. Your relationships may break down, or you may struggle to concentrate at work.
If you have difficulty sleeping, there are often simple changes you can make to find a solution. Try and get into a sleep routine. Your body clock gets used to certain times, so aim to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Make sure you have time to relax before you go to bed. If you’re stressed out, or you’re busy working, your mind will be active. Take an hour or so to watch TV, read a book, or listen to the radio. Avoid taking phones, laptops, and tablets into the bedroom with you. Block out light using blackout blinds and wear earplugs if noise is an issue.
If you’ve tried everything, and you still can’t get a decent night’s sleep, see your doctor. There are many treatments and self-help techniques, which could prove beneficial.
- Look after your body
You only get one body, so it’s important to look after it. Often, there’s nothing we can do to prevent illness. But in some cases, diseases are preventable. The choices we make can either increase or decrease our risk of developing certain illnesses. If you smoke, for example, you have a higher risk of cancer. If you drink excessively, this elevates your risk of liver disease. If you take drugs, you may experience heart palpitations. Think about the implications for your health when you make lifestyle choices. How is what you’re doing going to affect your body?
If you’re worried about how much you drink, you want to quit smoking or give up taking drugs, ask for help. Your doctor is a good place to start. Charities can also be hugely beneficial, and many people find it useful to talk to others in the same boat. Try and confide in those closest to you, and be as open and honest as possible. If you have a serious addiction, treatment can take a long time. But a full recovery is possible.
Many of us up our game when it comes to summer. But getting healthy is not all about losing weight and toning up your bikini body. This summer, focus on treating your body and mind to some TLC and adopting lifestyle changes for good. Pay attention to what you eat, and exercise frequently. If you don’t like running, or you’re no good at team sports, try something different. Go to a spinning class, or take up yoga. Walk the dog twice a day, or go swimming. Try and get enough sleep. If you have sleep problems, don’t suffer in silence. The longer you go without sleep, the more severe the consequences. Finally, if you feel stressed, try and find some coping mechanisms that work for you. If you’re still struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice. Hopefully, these five golden rules will have you looking and feeling happier and healthier before you know it!
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