1. Make a Move
Being physically active each and every day is great for physical and mental well-being. It can make you feel good, improve your health, help maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress and just be a whole bunch of fun! It also helps to negate the effects of the increasingly predominant sedentary lifestyle.
- Sit for limited periods of time and keep recreational screen time to a minimum (less than 2 hours per day).
- Sweat for an hour a day – rigorous activity for 60 minutes, at least 3 times a week.
- Step up the activity – participate in as much light activity (like walking) as you can! Take the stairs instead of the lift. Get off the bus or train stop earlier.
- Sleep well and aim for at least 8 hours of interrupted sleep each night.
2. Sleep Deep
Sleep does more than you may think! It plays a critical role in supporting growth, immune function, cardiovascular health, cell reparation, memory, mental well-being and physical fitness. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night while infants, children and teens all require longer periods of sleeping (up to 14 hours). You’ll all feel better for it!
Want to nap – why not? While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality night-time sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.
3. Hydrate for Health
Maintaining hydration is essential for every cell and system in the body – roughly 65% of the human body is water. If we don’t replace what we lose (via urination, perspiration and respiration, as well as with vomiting, diarrhoea and diuretics) we can become dehydrated. Infants, children, the elderly and people with chronic illness are particularly susceptible to inadequate hydration.
To stave off dehydration, drink 1.5-2L of water daily. If you struggle with water, try infusing it with fruit.
4. Get real with your food
Eat well by eating real food! It’s as simple as it sounds.
- Look for food that looks like food! Eat the rainbow to enjoy the variety of colours, textures and flavours that nature provides us with.
- Shop the edges of a supermarket. That’s where the most natural, unprocessed food resides.
- Buy food that’s not in a packet. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Cook your own meals. This way you’ll know exactly what you’re eating and can avoid nasty, hidden ingredients.
For tips on eating organic, check out our blog, Clever ways to eat organic on a budget - The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.
5. Be good to your gut!
Looking after the gut has always been a key aspect of naturopathic medicine. The role of digestion, metabolism and the microbiome (our gut bacteria) is continuously being linked to numerous health outcomes, including immune function, mental health and inflammation.
Three easy ways you can look after your gut is:
- Stimulate your digestion with a large glass of water first thing in the morning. Add 1-2 tbs of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to get your digestive juices flowing!
- Keep ‘regular’ by eating naturally fibrous foods (like whole vegetables, legumes, fruits and wholegrains) each day and drinking water.
- Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods to support healthy gut flora. Lentils, kiwifruit, banana and buckwheat are sources of prebiotics, while yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut contain probiotics.
6. Stress Less
Easier said than done? Well, it doesn’t have to be.
- Breathing exercises relax both body and mind, as does physical activity.
- A well-balanced diet can keep you well and happy, especially if you keep the caffeine to a minimum.
- Prioritise, we’re not superheroes. Get organised and do one thing at a time, and do it well.
- Lack of sleep is a driving factor of stress. Be sure to get enough zzzz’s each night.
- Take time out just for you to rest, relax, read & rejuvenate.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask, help is only a phone call away.
7. Go Outside!
Spending time outside in the natural world can provide a range of benefits, including relieving stress, improving fitness and maintaining Vitamin D levels. Nature helps nourish and nurture our wellbeing.
Grounding or earthing refers to direct skin contact (eg bare feet) with the surface of the Earth. Studies show that this can have measureable effect on the human body, including reducing inflammation, improving sleep and stress by modulating cortisol and improving immune function.
Prioritise the outdoors as much as you can! Have a park picnic, go for a quick walk, take a refreshing dip in the ocean or get your hands dirty in the garden today!
8. Mindful Living
Practising mindfulness is not as hippie as it sounds. It’s “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”, or simply being aware. It’s been shown to be an effective strategy to manage stress, improve immune function and promote brain health.
A few easy ways you can practise mindfulness throughout your day:
- Mindful eating. Sit at a table without a phone, computer or TV, chew slowly and savour the meal. Your digestion will love you for it.
- Mindful driving – Many of us go into auto-pilot when driving and often experience road rage at minor matters. If someone cuts you off, ask yourself – how is this really going to impact my day? Often the answer is, it won’t.
- Mindful listening – This, also known as active listening, is when you really tune in to what another person is saying with their words and body. See how much more you notice and are better able to respond.
- Mindful actions – Think about how other people are feeling, put yourself in their shoes. This old saying still rings true: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself”.
We humans are a social species. We’re not meant to be alone. According to John Cacioppo, if we are separated from groups, our brains go into a “self-preservation mode” which can have detrimental effects. His longitudinal research supports this and indicates that loneliness predicts decreased physical health, impaired cognitive abilities and increases in depressive symptoms.
This is why connection with other people is so important. However, social media networking does not replace person to person contact.
You can feel connection by reaching out to friends and family on a regular basis. Becoming part of something ‘bigger’ than you (like volunteering, joining a running club, etc) also promotes connection and reduces feelings of loneliness.
10. Don't be afraid to say no
It can be hard to say no, especially when we think it will disappoint someone. But often, saying yes to others means saying no to yourself. Try asking yourself a few questions. Do you need to? Do you want to? Have you overestimated what will happen if you say no?
Of course, you don’t need to say no to everything either. But ultimately, it’s not the end of the world to:
- Say NO to your phone, electronics, emails and social media, especially in the hour or two before bed.
- Say NO to a party when you’d rather enjoy a movie in.
- Say NO to doing everything. Factor in some time just for you.
- Say NO to that 2nd cup of coffee. Try a green tea instead.
We hope these top 10 tips help you live a happy and healthy life.