Whether you try all twenty or just one, these tips can help you make progress towards your health goals. Plus, they’re simple enough to easily fit into your busy lifestyle!
By Christine McParland
Living a healthier lifestyle is a goal many of us are striving for. Unfortunately, it’s much easier said than done; even thinking about making dietary or lifestyle changes can be overwhelming! The good news is that it doesn’t need to be. Even small steps of progress will move you closer to your health goals. If you need some inspiration to motivate you, try one or more of these simple tips and start living a healthier lifestyle today!
An often-overlooked factor to a healthy lifestyle is stress management. While you may not be able to control the amount of stress in your life, you can manage how you respond and allow it to affect your body. Take the stress out of stress management with one or more of these tips!
- Practice Sabbath. Try taking one day off weekly from work and work-related activities (including chores and errands). Use the opportunity to rest, attend church, spend time with family or friends, or do whatever recharges you!
- Take a break. Go for a quick walk to boost blood flow to your brain. If you have time, take a leisurely drive and play relaxing music or go window shopping. Or switch tabs and watch a funny video. Even a short break can help lower your stress levels so you can return to whatever challenge you’re facing with a healthier state of mind.
- Take a nap. Even if you don’t sleep, giving your body some rest can help recharge your batteries for the rest of the day.
- Get outside. Fresh air, sunshine, physical activity, and being in nature can do wonders for your stress levels!
- Pray, journal, and meditate on Scripture. Re-focusing your heart on what’s important to you can help put stressful situations into perspective.
Have Fun with Exercise
No, we’re definitely not talking about going to the gym every day or hiring a personal trainer (unless you actually enjoy that sort of thing). Exercise doesn’t need to feel like drudgery or punishment. Any one of these tips can help you make exercise a natural part of your healthy lifestyle!
- Start small. If exercise isn’t a regular habit for you, try setting a goal of 20-30 minutes of physical activity at least three days per week. As you get stronger, gradually increase the amount of time and/or number of days. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended weekly minimum amount of exercise for most adults is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity.
- Enjoy it! Don’t force yourself to go the gym if you dread treadmills and weight machines. If you like the outdoors, try walking, hiking, or biking. If you enjoy moving your body to a beat, try a Zumba or dance class. You’re more likely to be consistent with exercise if you enjoy it!
- Find ways to add more movement into your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the far end of the lot. Play outside with your kids. Take a break to walk around the office every hour. You may be surprised at how small changes add up to more physical activity throughout the day.
- Change it up. It’s easy to lose motivation if you become bored with your exercise routine. Plus, varying your routine will help you use different muscle groups as well! Take a break from logging miles on the treadmill and swim laps in the pool. Try a group fitness class for a change from your usual workout videos. If the weather permits, get some friends together to shoot hoops, play tennis, or chase a frisbee! Don’t forget to include strength training with some weights at home or at the gym.
Also frequently overlooked as part of a healthy lifestyle, sleep is critical for overall health. Yet it is one of the most difficult factors to control! Whatever age, stage, or season of life you’re in, these tips can help you get more sleep or enhance the sleep you’re currently getting.
- Go to bed early enough to allow for 7-8 hours of sleep. This goes without saying, but if you want to prioritize your health, you’ll want to prioritize your sleep schedule.
- Start winding down at least one hour before bedtime if possible. Do something that relaxes you, like quiet reading (avoid page turners that will keep you up too late!), going for a leisurely walk, or soaking in a warm bath.
- Keep technology usage to a minimum at night. Install blue light filter apps for whatever screens you need to use (blue light from screens signals our brains to stay awake).
- Journal. Even if journaling is not your thing, keeping a notebook to write down any thoughts that are you keeping you awake can help you wind down and sleep.
- Pray. Take a few minutes to talk to God about your day, releasing the worries and stresses, celebrating the joys and successes, giving thanks for blessings and protection, and asking for his grace and help for tomorrow.
- Read or meditate on Scripture. Try selecting a passage from the Psalms or one of the Gospels. Pick a verse to commit to memory and repeat it in your mind as you drift off to sleep.
If you’re like most Americans, you probably want to improve the quality of your diet through healthier choices. This doesn’t mean reducing or even counting calories! After all, your diet merely refers to what you typically eat on a daily basis. But where do you start if you want to cultivate a healthier diet? Let these tips help you take small steps toward big changes.
- Choose fresh, whole foods over processed ones. When that’s not possible, read the ingredients of the breakfast bars or microwave meals before you buy—there are lots of options with more natural ingredients that can help keep you healthy on-the-go!
- Reduce sugar by swapping for lower-sugar alternatives. Try unsweetened sparkling water instead of soda (add some natural, sugar-free sweetener like Stevia if you need to!). Replace traditional candy bars with dark chocolate. Choose whole-grain breakfast cereals over the sugary kind. You get the idea!
- Only eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re satisfied. It sounds obvious, but often we’re so busy and distracted that we can’t hear what our bodies are telling us. God designed your body to tell you what it needs and when, so listen!
- Aim for a balance of healthy carbs, fats, and proteins. Think whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil and other plant-based fats, and lean meats or fish.
- Enjoy your diet! Similar to exercise, if you don’t like what you’re eating, you’re less likely to stick with it. There are lots of healthier alternatives to popular “junk” and comfort foods (check the “healthy” aisle at the grocery store or your local health food store). Better yet, try recreating your favorite treats yourself with delicious recipes from popular food blogs like this one.
Remember, you don’t need to use all these tips at once! Try implementing one from each of the four categories or focus on the category you need the most support with. The important thing is to find healthy changes that work for you and your lifestyle, because those are the ones that will stick in the long run!
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Food Saved Me by Danielle Walker
When doctors told Danielle Walker that food didn’t cause her autoimmune disease and couldn’t help control it, she set out to prove them wrong.
Diagnosed with an extreme form of ulcerative colitis at 22, Danielle was terrified she’d never be able to eat all the wonderful, great-tasting foods she loved growing up or host warm, welcoming gatherings with family and friends. So when the medicine she was prescribed became almost as debilitating as the disease itself, Danielle took matters into her own hands, turned her kitchen into a laboratory, and set to work creating gut-healthy versions of the foods she thought she’d never be able to enjoy again. Three New York Times bestselling cookbooks later, Danielle has become a beacon of hope for millions around the world suffering from autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and chronic ailments.
Food saved Danielle Walker. And it can save you, too.