While it is easy to believe that weight loss is the best way to track your health journey, remember that healthy living isn't just about hitting weight loss goals and maintaining a certain physical appearance. Instead, healthy living is about finding a balance between your physical, financial and emotional health.
Here are some healthy things you can start doing today to help kickstart your health journey today.
1.) Put Your Phone Away an Hour Before Bed
Maybe you feel that your smartphone has become an overall necessity. You probably use your phone as a means of communication, but perhaps you use your phone for work, reading books, getting directions—or even as a personal assistant! Because phones are used for so many different things, it is easy to form the habit of reaching for it first thing in the morning and using it practically until you fall asleep. While it is wonderful that there have been so many technological advances making smartphones a very useful tool, it is important to be mindful of the fact that using your phone constantly can have negative health implications.
Experts suggest that phone use right before bedtime can be the root cause of sleep issues such as decreased REM cycles, trouble falling asleep, and grogginess and irritability when waking up. Phone use at night keeps your brain engaged at a time when you should be winding down. Additionally, the blue light that your phone emits sends a false message to your brain that it is still daytime, which can throw off your internal clock and suppress your melatonin levels. This can lead to irritability, insomnia and even anxiety due to poor sleep quality.
Instead of using your phone up until it is time for to sleep, make a point to establish a bedtime routine that calms your body instead of awakening it:
- Set a goal to put your phone away 30 minutes before bed and then incrementally increase that goal to an hour before bed.
- Put your phone in a different room so that you are not tempted to reach for it when you are trying to nod off.
- Adjust the settings on your device by putting it on “night mode,” which lowers the level of blue light being emitted from the screen and also allows you to mute notifications until the morning.
2.) Be Active Throughout the Day
Did you know that Americans sit an average of 11 hours a day? This level of inactivity is known as a “sedentary lifestyle” and comes with health risks that are worth looking into. The importance of mobility is not something to be taken lightly, as doctors have stated that sitting and being inactive the majority of the day can lead to poor blood circulation, an increased level of inflammation, loss of muscle strength and lower metabolism performance.
There are different ways that you can prioritize activity throughout the day because every little bit of movement counts towards achieving a more active lifestyle:
- Talk to your company about a standing desk option if you mostly sit during your workday.
- Consider investing in a Fitbit or Apple Watch to track your movement and activity levels throughout the day.
- Find ways to recruit family and friends to get active with you. Instead of going for a coffee date to catch up with a friend, suggest going to a walking trail or on a short hike.
- Stand up and walk around the house during commercial breaks when you’re watching TV.
- Invest in some exercise equipment for your home so that you are motivated to get active and don’t get discouraged because you have to leave to go to the gym.
- Instead of finding the closest spot in a parking lot, park your car further away to get more steps in.
3.) Set Financial Goals
The journey to health and wellness doesn’t always have to be physical. Sometimes having a financial plan set in place can help with your overall health profile and alleviate overarching stress you may have in your life. Money troubles can be a top cause for stress. This internalized stress can wear at both your mind and your body so it’s important to set aside some time to set financial goals. For example, you could make a spreadsheet to look for areas in your spending that you could cut costs.
When making your financial plan, remember to also account for ways that you can provide added protection and security for your assets and family. For example, you will want to make sure that you have a life insurance policy established to give some added peace of mind and help alleviate overarching stress you may have about your financial future. If you have not gone through the process of purchasing life insurance yet, it is important to note that there are many different policies available on the market and some may work better than others for your particular situation. If you purchase a policy when you are younger and healthier, there are substantial savings involved so it could be beneficial to find online resources that weigh the pros and cons of the different policies available.
Another way to alleviate looming financial stress you may have is to allocate funds for a savings account. Even if you are only able to save a little bit here and there, having some level of savings built up can help to ease your mind that if something unexpected were to come up that you would have some emergency fund available to tap into. Setting up financial goals can help you to establish habits that lead to better financial security, which will inevitably lower your stress levels.
4.) Drink Water Before Coffee
In the morning, it is tempting to make a cup of coffee before doing anything else. While this may be a habit that is deeply ingrained for some, it is important to understand that drinking coffee first thing in the morning can have negative health implications. When you first wake up, your body is dehydrated after fasting throughout the night. When your body is dehydrated, it is craving water whereas coffee is a diuretic that further dehydrates you. While coffee may give you a jolt of caffeine that makes you feel as if you’re ready to conquer the world, in the long run you are setting your body up for crashing later because you don’t have enough fuel to be productive for the majority of the day.
Moreover, coffee is very acidic and in the morning you don’t have enough nutrients lining your stomach. This means you are more prone to digestive and stomach issues because you are drinking something that is already very acidic when your stomach is not sufficiently prepared to handle those levels of acidity. Before you reach for that cup of joe, make it a point to have a glass or two of water— your body will thank you!
5.) Find Time to Meditate
Mental health is just as important as physical health so prioritize yourself and your emotional wellbeing on your health journey. You may have heard of the term, “self-care.” There are many different types of self-care, so remember not to feel guilty for setting aside time for yourself. We live in a world where there are demands constantly being thrown our way so try to find ways to put yourself first so that you have the mental energy and capacity to meet these demands.
One of the best ways to put self-care at the forefront of your routine is to find time to meditate. Meditation is scientifically proven to provide significant mental and physical benefits. For example, studies show that meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress while improving your sleep and memory retention. Set aside a few minutes each night to sit and channel into yourself and allow a time of peace and rest for your body and brain. You could start with just five minutes and then increase the time limit once you have established a routine and feel more comfortable.
Remember to pat yourself on the back when making changes in your routine that will ultimately lead to better health. While it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that weight loss is the only measure of health success, it is important to be mindful of the fact that there are many other ways to promote overall wellness. Achieving a healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint so every change, no matter how small, is a milestone to be celebrated!