7 Healthy Habits for Greater Physical & Mental Well‑Being
In today’s world, it can be difficult keeping up with new research on what’s healthy and what isn’t, as it’s changed over the years. In fact, if we were to make a list of things we should and shouldn’t do each day for improved health, it would be overwhelming. The good news is that living a balanced, healthy lifestyle isn’t too difficult if a few key habits are formed. Since a habit typically takes 21 days to form, these 7 healthy habits can become second nature in 3 weeks; facilitating greater mental and physical well-being.
1. Getting Adequate Shut-Eye
A regulated sleep cycle with 7-9 hours of sleep per night is essential for mental and physical well-being. Sleep deprivation has several negative effects on mental and physical health. It can lead to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, as well as significantly impair cognitive and motor performance. This can be remedied by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, 7-9 hours apart, give or take 30 minutes before or after. Achieving an optimal amount of sleep on a regular basis can also help normalize or improve weight and metabolism.
2. Making Better Food Choices
- 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 8 grams of healthy protein per kilogram of body weight (multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.36 to get your daily protein suggestion in grams)
- Avoiding harmful foods and ingredients including: processed foods, refined sugars, added hormones, GMOs
- Maintaining a slightly alkaline pH balance (a chart showing which foods are acidic or alkaline can help guide your choices)
- Meals that are Low in carbohydrates and nutrient-rich
In order to consume the appropriate amounts of the necessary vitamins and nutrients through food, you can reference the Dietary Guidelines for Americans which is jointly published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) every 5 years.
3. Sweating It Out
Elevating the heart rate for 20 minutes at a time each day is sufficient for reaping the rewards of this healthy habit. This could be a brisk walk, run, bike ride, or hobby that involves physical activity. Whatever you decide to do each day, ensure it’s something enjoyable. Having an activity that you actually enjoy doing is more likely to stick, and if the same activity every day seems mundane, diversify fitness efforts by switching up activities and routines throughout the week.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
This is one of the most essential healthy habits as our bodies need water on a more consistent basis than food. Unfortunately, drinking the right amount of water for one’s weight is one of the least practiced habits by most Americans. Consuming enough water not only helps hydrate and nourish us, but it provides a neutral pH, helps detoxify organs, and combats food cravings. The good news is that the water in foods and even your daily coffee count towards your daily intake.
Studies show that being exposed to nature can actually change our mental health and thought process by increasing neural activity and cognitive function. It helps relieve stress, improves affect and focus, and provides mentally grounding benefits. Although many Americans work in urban areas with limited access to natural green space, you can achieve the same results by spending time in a local park or rooftop garden. If you have more flexibility in your schedule or location try taking a hike, going to the beach, and engaging in outdoor sports or activities.
6. Get Pet-Friendly
Spending time with animals can have a positive impact on your mood and your health in many ways.
For example, pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which relates to less stress and better heart health.
Having pets involves physical activity (ie: walking the dog, playing fetch, riding horses) which can increase your energy levels, as well as circulation. The fresh air and vitamin D through sun exposure don’t hurt either. Pets also provide opportunities for socialization which leads to a sense of belonging and purpose, therefore decreasing risk of depression and loneliness.
7. Practice The Art of Mindfulness
The 2,600 year old Buddhist art of mindfulness has proven a powerful intervention in promoting a healthy state of mind and body. Today, the practice is widely adopted by many modern psychologists who use this technique with their patients.
Mindfulness can be achieved by meditating, or focusing on being present in the here and now – without attention on the past or future. This heightened “state of awareness” provides benefits such as improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence, self-control, and an increased ability for acceptance and compassion. All of which lead to a more positive and healthy state of mind.
These 7 healthy habits may seem difficult or even inconvenient to incorporate into your daily routine at first, but as simple or difficult as they seem, when put into practice they hold the power to positively transform the well-being of the body and mind, and your overall health.
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