There is a common misconception that in order to make progress toward better health you have to make big changes. But as creatures of habit, we have a hard time making and sustaining substantial changes to our lives.
Instead of trying a drastic change for 2 weeks, try one (or more ) of these 7 healthy habits that you can do for the rest of your life. No diet, no exercise plan, just a few wellness optimizations to your lifestyle.
1. Spend time with friends and family
The world's healthiest people have vibrant social lives. Spending time around close friends and family can actually improve your physical health. Maintaining good relationships with people may be an even more powerful health indicator than giving up smoking!
Feeling lonely or disconnected prevents stimulation in your brain. Happiness hormones that are released during social interaction are important for physical and mental wellbeing. Consistent, trusted relationships will help you live a longer, healthier life.
The biggest benefit to this health tip? It's easy and fun! No gym, no diet, just quality time with those you care about.
2. Keep your cool
Maybe you've heard that stress is bad for your health, but have you ever researched just how bad? Chronic stress is linked to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, and more.
Taking 30 minutes a day to destress is arguably more effective in building a healthier lifestyle than 30 minutes of exercise. Although, if you are willing to exercise, it is a great form of stress relief.
So instead of going Keto for a week and then giving up, try a short meditation each day or adopt a breathing technique for when you feel the most stressed. Identify stress triggers and see if you can intercept them before you react.
3. Drink water
This one is probably something you've heard from your doctor or your friends, but it cannot be overstated. Proper hydration helps your entire body function including your brain.
Drinking water will help regulate your hunger levels too, so you are less likely to snack throughout the day when you aren't really hungry. Adding 15 to 30 ounces of water to your daily intake is a much easier task than going on a diet and you'r more likely to stick to it.
Remember that you should hydrate more if you are exercising each day and that you still need plenty of water even when the weather is colder.
4. Find your passion
People who report satisfaction with their job are healthier than those that are unhappy in their workplace. Furthermore, people who engage in charity activities or hobbies are healthier than those that don't.
Finding an activity or line of work that you are passionate about can dramatically improve your overall health. It is also linked with tons of other healthy behaviors, like less stress, better sleep, and even better diet choices.
You may not be ready to leave your job and start a whole new career, but in your time off you can explore your interests. Try learning a new skill, volunteering in your community, or plan a trip. Keeping yourself motivated and feeling a sense of purpose will improve your health.
5. Move your body
I know that I promised these tips would not include diet and exercise advice (although I have plenty of that too if you want it). But the truth about exercise is that at its core, the benefit comes from moving your body.
Walking, stretching, or dancing are easy alternatives to gym routines. Most of us live a sedentary lifestyle which is dangerous for our health. But to reverse the risk, all you have to do is move a little bit more every day.
Take 5-minute breaks to stretch or walk around your home or office. No gym clothes required! Cleaning your house or gardening are other ways you can move your body without a specific exercise routine.
Being active in any way can improve cardiovascular function and prevent obesity and diabetes.
6. Don't go on a diet, but try to eat some plants
Diets fail. I won't go into the statistics, but trust me, a diet won't help with long term health. Diets can often lead to a net weight gain despite the best of intentions. So the best thing you can do is say goodbye to diets forever. Woohoo!
However, this doesn't give you permission to eat cookies for every meal. Instead, just try to eat more plants. Globally, the healthiest people eat a plant-based diet. So if you are looking to change to your eating habits, start with adding a few plants.
7. Sleep More
This one should be easy, but most people are not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep. A lack of sleep can limit your mental and physical abilities. Not to mention, it can be very hard to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight without proper sleep.
Make sleep a priority. Set an alarm for bedtime, and stick to it! Make an effort to avoid screens for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed and develop a bedtime ritual that helps cue your body that it is time to shut down for the day.
That's it, just sleep more and you can become healthier. There are some celebrities and even health professionals that swear 5 or 6 hours of sleep is plenty, but the research supports 7-8 hours a night.
It's All Good News
These 7 habits are shared by the healthiest groups of people in the world. Supporting your mental, physical, and emotional health are all interconnected. And the best part about this list is that none of these items should be all that hard to implement.
So start with one for a week and see how it goes. Then, add another, and another. Over time you will start to experience the health benefits that these simple habits can offer.