Sometimes one small lifestyle change can improve your health vastly over time.
I know this from personal experience.
After changing a few areas of my life, I was able to improve my focus, concentration and patience with others.
For me, it was sleep. I used to stay up late—usually for no reason, just staring at my phone—and then would have to get up early for work the next day.
As you can imagine, I felt tired all the time. Something had to change. I got myself into a steady evening routine, which helped me get around eight hours of shut-eye each night.
I stopped looking at my phone an hour before bed and instead journaled for a few minutes. Reflecting on my day helped me relax and prepare for the next.
When you start with small habit changes, you'll find that it's much easier to stick to your goals and make new behaviors automatic. For example, rather than trying to overhaul your entire diet, just make one change at a time, like adding one extra green veggie a day.
As you succeed in accomplishing one new healthy habit, you'll be motivated to add more healthy behaviors and drop the habits that undermine your health and well-being.
Here are 19 healthy lifestyle tips you can start using right now to increase your well-being and overall health:
1. Replace soda with water.
Most fizzy drinks contain high levels of sugar and chemicals that aren't good for us. If you need a sugar buzz, get it from natural sugars found in fruits.
Water is an essential part of the human diet. When we drink enough of it, we remain hydrated and vibrant for our daily activities and plans.
Replace soda with water, and you'll soon feel much better.
2. Get enough sleep.
Adults should get an average of eight hours sleep per night. If this isn't the case for you, you may feel a little fatigued throughout the day. Your moods will be on edge and your performance hindered.
Sleep is crucial for feeling rested, rejuvenated and healthy. Lack of sleep can cause us to make mistakes we normally wouldn’t.
Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour to allow your body to get the rest it needs. If you're a night owl, start by backing up your bedtime by fifteen minutes, increasing the time over several weeks.
Meditation is a great way to relax and clear out your mental clutter. The average human has 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day, so it's fair to say that taking time out to still the mind can help us wind down from erratic mental activity.
Popular meditation techniques such as mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation are backed by scientific studies, showing the positive impact they have on our brain activity and overall wellness.
Try to meditate at least once per day for twenty minutes to allow this healthy living technique to enhance your lifestyle. You can begin with just a brief five minute meditation, building up over time until you reach the twenty minute goal.
4. Pick exercises you enjoy.
Exercising can be a strenuous and daunting activity for many, which is why it's essential you choose workouts you enjoy performing.
With the variety of exercise plans and methods available, it makes sense to filter through them to find ones you enjoy. If you have fun while performing an exercise, you're far more likely to engage in it more often or to stick to a routine.
5. Eat more fruit and vegetables.
It's so easy to come home after a hard day's work and stick a frozen meal in the oven. However, the time it takes for a frozen meal to cook is about the same as it takes to prepare something fresh such as a pasta dish with vegetables.
It's widely known and accepted that fruit and vegetables are healthy and should be consumed as part of a healthy diet. If you find it difficult to include them in your diet, seek out recipes that make them more exciting.
Make fruit salad for dessert or a snack. Use spices and herbs with vegetables to bring them to life.
6. Cut back on processed food.
Processed food is easily sourced and convenient to prepare. However, while it saves time to consume these foods, it isn't doing your body any favors.
Processed foods are often high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup. They also contain artificial ingredients like preservatives and colorants, and many are high in refined carbohydrates that turn into sugar.
Some of the processed foods you consume have trans fats and processed vegetable oils, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
Try to source organic and natural foods which are treated with fewer chemicals and are far more healthy. Fresh vegetables, legumes, lean meats, and fruits should be the primary foods in your diet.
There is a common myth that it takes more effort to prepare real food, but this isn't always the case. It's quick and easy to steam or stir fry some veggies, and grabbing an apple is as easy as grabbing a handful of cookies.
It's also worth noting that you can prepare meals ahead of time and preserve them in the fridge or freezer.
Start by replacing one of your processed food choices with a healthy alternative. Then continue switching out processed foods over time.
7. Love yourself.
It's important to build your life on a foundation of positivity and compassion. In order to achieve this, you must first learn to love yourself unconditionally.
Loving yourself doesn't mean you become selfish and self-absorbed; it means taking care of yourself physically and mentally. It also means being able to accept yourself as you are — flaws and all.
Giving yourself this kind of love and attention will usually result in you treating others with more respect and compassion. You will also see that others begin to treat you better.
Everything you do begins with you and how you perceive yourself. You have the power to set out ripples of positivity into your environment when your self-esteem is strong.
8. Remove negativity from your life.
Negativity can seep into your life through many portals. It can come in the form of thoughts, environmental conditioning from others, and even the media.
If you can, try to avoid contact with people who bring you down. They will infect you with their negative, unhappy thoughts and words. As a result, you will find yourself spreading that negativity even further by passing it to others.
Learn to become mindful of your thoughts and weed out those that don't serve you positively. Challenge your negative, anxious, or fearful thoughts with evidence to the contrary, and replace them with more realistic, positive thoughts.
Cut back on the amount of negative media you consume so you don't plant unpleasant ideas and images into your subconscious. Spend your time in creative and engaging pursuits that lift you up instead.
9. Take deep breaths.
Obviously, breathing keeps us alive, but how much attention do you pay to how you take your breaths?
Short breaths can cause you to feel anxious and uneasy, but by learning how to control your breathing, you can improve your mood almost instantly.
Taking deep breaths from your diaphragm instills a sense of calm and inner peace by pumping enough oxygen into your bloodstream.
Become aware of how you breathe more often so that you can control your moods and performance in a more efficient and constructive manner.
10. Don't overeat.
On average, it takes the brain around twenty minutes to start feeling full when you're eating a meal.
This is a scientific revelation that escapes most people, but when you give it some thought, it's very important.
Overeating is one of the leading causes of weight gain which can lead to a variety of illnesses. If your diet isn't healthy to begin with, overeating could be a real danger to you.
Learn to eat slowly, chewing your food and taking the time to enjoy the flavors.
Give your brain time to register how full you are so you don't risk overeating. Stop eating as soon as you feel full, as that is your body's signal telling you that you don't need to eat anymore.
11. Live a passionate life.
Life is meant to be enjoyed — it shouldn't feel like a series of uninspired actions you mindlessly take.
Find out what you love doing and base your lifestyle around it. This may mean a career change, or it could be something you do outside the workplace.
By finding your passion, you will invigorate your senses and summon enthusiasm and energy that will spill into all other areas of your life, including relationships, fitness, and your overall health.
12. Improve your posture.
The way you sit or stand has a profound effect on your mood.
Studies have shown that your body posture can make you feel more or less confident depending on the posture. The way we position our bodies can trick our brains into thinking we feel a certain way.
For example, wide open stances that take up space will improve your feelings of confidence and personal power. It will also make others believe you are more confident.
However, if you sit hunched over with your elbows resting on the table and your hands holding up your head, you give off a negative impression.
Whereas sitting with your back held upright and a smile on your face tells others you feel comfortable.
If you feel lethargic or negative in any way, try to improve your posture. It will help pull you out of a bad mood and boost your confidence.
13. Get out more often
Being stuck indoors can make you feel closed off from the outside world and from nature.
It's important you get out at least once per day, even if it's just for a short twenty-minute walk.
Interacting with others and spending time in nature is so important for our well-being.
Socializing helps us stay connected and freshens up our lives with new opportunities and situations. Go out with friends, family members or arrange dates if you aren't in a relationship already.
Time in nature can reduce stress, lift your spirits, and make you feel more connected to the world around you.
Combining social interactions with time in nature is the best of both worlds!
14. Surround yourself with healthy people.
In the self-improvement community, it's often said that your personality and habits are made up of the five people you interact with most. This is due to environmental conditioning.
If you want to become healthier, it makes sense to hang out with others who are on the same journey as you.
Being around others who have already achieved your health goals will help motivate you to reach your own targets faster.
It's almost like having an accountability partner without formally stating your goals and what you'll be doing to accomplish them.
15. Cut down on caffeine.
If you consume more than 500 to 600 milligrams of caffeine in a day, you could be negatively impacting your health.
Muscle tremors, insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness are just a few of the symptoms you'll experience from consuming too much caffeine.
Even if you don't reach 500 to 600 milligrams per day, you can still experience some of these unhealthy symptoms. One cup of coffee has almost 100 grams of caffeine, so try not to drink more than two or three cups a day.
If you don't want your sleep disrupted, be sure to stop drinking caffeinated drinks four to six hours before bedtime.
16. Cut down on alcohol.
Alcohol is a widely accepted and frequently consumed beverage that part of many traditions and celebrations. Enjoying a glass of wine or beer or having the occasional cocktail is enjoyable and a fun part of socializing.
However, it's also common knowledge that consuming a lot of alcohol isn't good for you.
Too much alcohol can lead to addiction and various health problems such as liver failure, brain damage, and memory loss.
Beer contain a vast amount of sugars and chemicals that cause the dreaded hangover that too many pints tends to produce.
If you do drink alcohol and wish to continue doing so, learn to moderate what you consume and cut down your intake as much as possible.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.
17. Walk in nature.
Nature provides us with a primitive sense of connection to where we came from in the stem of evolution.
It's important we escape the busy hustle and bustle of daily life to enjoy the clean air and the sounds of fields and forests.
According to researchers at the University of Michigan, taking group nature walks is associated with a variety of mental health benefits, including decreased depression, improved well-being and mental health, and lower feelings of stress.
Says Gretchen Reynolds in an article for the New York Times, “Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.”
Make it a daily goal to get outside for a short walk in the woods, a nearby park, or even in your own back yard.
18. Take regular breaks.
To avoid poor performance at work or with whatever it is you find yourself doing, you should take regular breaks.
Our senses can only deliver enhanced and concentrated performance for so long. It's vital you take time away from tasks that require a lot of attention to rejuvenate your senses.
For example, if you work with computers and screens, you should take a five to ten minute break every hour to rest your eyes and refocus.
Taking breaks helps reset your creativity, motivation, and mental energy.
19. Be mindful of your thoughts.
Learn to watch your thoughts in a mindful manner so you don't allow negativity to consume your attention and energy.
Everything we do begins with a thought, which turns into an action that then produces the results we see in life.
If you want to improve your life and become healthier, it's important to become aware of your thoughts before you engage with them. If you notice a negative thought, let it pass by like a cloud.
Through practicing this skill, you learn you aren't your thoughts, and they only control your life if you let them.
Even if you implement just a handful of the above tips, you should be able to make measurable changes in your life that will improve your health and wellness.
As I said earlier, for me, it was all about sleep, and making small changes over time helped me get the recommended hours of rest I needed.
Who knows what it will be for you.
Perhaps getting out more often or taking frequent breaks will help you feel rejuvenated and more energetic.
Give some of the points from the list a try, and see how they impact your life starting today.
Latoya is a tech blogger for Secure Thoughts. When she’s not at her computer, she’s focused on health and wellness and enjoys developing positive habits that will enhance her life in a constructive manner.