Adopting a plant-based diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and getting enough sleep are all key components of a healthy lifestyle. These habits have been linked to reduced risks of chronic disease and a longer lifespan.
There are many other small yet important habits that contribute to good health. It's easy to overlook these things when we're focused on more significant goals like exercising and eating healthy meals. Use this guide to help you incorporate more of these "little things" into your daily routine.
Get up & move: Prolonged sitting has been linked to increased risks for obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and premature death. On the other hand, even just a small amount of movement has been linked to reduced risks for chronic disease. Taking a break to be active doesn't have to be complicated or elaborate. For example: Standing up can improve your body's blood sugar utilisation.
Drink a little water: Proper hydration is crucial for optimal functioning of all the cells in your body. To ensure that you're getting enough fluids, which can come from water, juice, or water-rich foods like berries or soup, make a conscious effort to drink enough. To determine your fluid needs, divide your body weight in pounds by 3. For example, a 144-pound person would need 48 ounces of fluids per day, or about 6 cups. If you don't want to chug a cup of water at a time, try sipping an ounce or two every half-hour. This way, you can make sure you've met your hydration needs by the end of the day.
Every Few Hours
Incorporating certain habits into your routine every few hours is important. Plan to do them at times that fit best with your daily schedule, like during a break between tasks.
Have a snack: Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help maintain energy levels, stabilise blood sugar, and increase the diversity of foods in your diet. Consider having a nutritious snack between a light breakfast and lunch, and another between a light lunch and dinner. To make it satisfying and well-balanced, pair protein with carbohydrates.
Our recommendation: Snacks include half a cup of nonfat Greek yoghurt with berries, a handful of nuts, an apple or banana with a spoonful of peanut butter, half a cup of whole-grain cereal with milk, a hard-boiled egg with whole-grain crackers, or a small portion of leftovers from your last meal.
Be mindful: Mindfulness involves being present at the moment and fully experiencing your senses. To practice mindfulness, take a moment to focus on what you're sensing - the temperature of the water while washing your hands, the sensation of your hands gliding over each other, the smell of the soap, and how the process makes you feel.
Try going on a short mindful walk outside, paying attention to the shapes and colours of leaves on the trees, the smells in the air, and the sounds of birds. Notice how these experiences make you feel. The practice of mindfulness has been linked to reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep, mood, focus, and concentration, and better management of pain and chronic diseases.
Use eye drop: Blinking only takes a moment, but it helps keep your eyes moist by stimulating the production of tears and oils that lubricate the eye surface. As we age, tear production slows down and increased electronic screen time - such as watching TV or using a smartphone or computer - can lead to dry eyes because we tend to stare more and blink less. To alleviate dry eyes, try using artificial tears throughout the day. Unless you use them more than six times per day, preservative-free drops are not necessary.
Once A Day
Certain activities provide benefits simply by doing them once a day. Set aside time for the following:
Learn something new: Learning helps strengthen existing brain cell connections (synapses) and creates new ones, which helps maintain mental clarity and memory. The more synapses you build, the better off you'll be as you naturally start to lose synapses with age. Plan to spend some time each day learning something new, like watching a documentary, listening to a new type of music, reading a non-fiction book, or watching an interesting lecture on YouTube. Write down what you learn and share it with someone in your life. This helps reinforce the learning process in the brain and improves your retention of the information
Chat with someone: Having a conversation with someone outside your household can be mentally stimulating. When you have a enjoyable or meaningful interaction with someone, it increases brain cell connections, improves mood, reduces loneliness and isolation, and may lower the risk of chronic disease and early death. Try to schedule some form of social interaction at least once a day, whether it's a phone call with a friend or a conversation with a neighbour. If it's someone you don't see regularly, it will create new connections in your brain rather than just reinforcing existing ones.
Meditate: Meditation activates the relaxation response, which counters the body's stress response. Short-term stress triggers a series of physiological changes that help us prepare for "fight or flight," but if we're always stressed, these effects can lead to chronic inflammation, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and more. Incorporating the relaxation response into your daily routine, through meditation or other practices like deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness, or transcendental meditation, can help reduce stress and improve your ability to cope with it.
By making an effort to prioritise these "little things" in your day, you can improve your overall health and well-being.
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