Top 10 Tips for a Happier, Healthier 2020

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This year will be different. This year you will turn things around and realize your goals towards happiness and health. You’ve got this! How do we know? Because we’re going to work together on making sure you know exactly what to do in order to be your best self.

Here’s a quick list of simple, proven tips that can help. Of course, when you’re making changes like these, it’s important to start off with realistic expectations. Remember that new habits can take a while to “click.” (One study found that 66 days is the average time to establish a new habit, although there’s a wide variation.) So be patient with yourself. Don’t give up if you have little slips now and then. You’re only human, after all.

Set Yourself Up For Success

Also, be sure to set yourself up for success by creating an environment that minimizes distractions. For example, if you’re trying to cut back on alcohol, you might find it easier to meet up with friends on walks instead of at pubs. That’s an obvious example, but you can take that philosophy further by taking a good look at your routines, your companions, and your home to make sure you’re supporting your goals.

10 Tips For A Healthy 2020

Ready to start having the best year ever? Here’s how.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Did you know many of us walk around in a state of permanent dehydration? It’s true. And when we’re feeling tired or hungry, we often don’t realize that what we really need is just a big glass of water.

How much water should you drink? There’s no universal answer, but a common naturopathic idea is half your weight in ounces of water—so if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d drink 75 ounces of water. Another idea is the colour of your urine: It should be the colour of pale straw. And pay attention to your thirst cues. Often when we become conscious that we’re thirsty, we’re already dehydrated.

2. Take five minutes to meditate

If you find the concept of meditation too intimidating, focus on achieving just five minutes of stillness. Yes, just five minutes of mindful meditation can make a difference to your physical and mental health. In the time it takes you to scroll through Facebook, you could take an important step towards lowering your blood pressure, your risk of depression, your anxiety, and much more.

You can find many apps and videos on the Internet, but here’s a short primer:

  1. Meditate in a quiet spot.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Inhale through your nose and into your lungs.
  4. Fade outside noises out.
  5. Set your focus internally.
  6. Begin breathing with your diaphragm.
  7. Focus on rhythmically breathing.
  8. Defocus your thoughts for internal tranquillity.

You can meditate by trying to empty your mind of all thoughts, or do a breathing exercise of inhaling in through your nose for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 3-5 seconds, and exhaling for 6 seconds through your mouth, or download a meditation app on your phone and listen to someone having you relax your muscles while breathing deeply—there are many different ways to reduce your mind thought while meditating.

3. Focus on whole foods

The world is full of complicated diet plans, but this one step is key. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. (So instead of a piece of apple pie, have an apple.) Think about your average grocery store trip: You want to buy as much food from the outside edge of the store as possible. (That way, you buy more things like produce and lean healthy protein, instead of boxes of cereal.)

One thing that can make this step a bit easier is to buy local as often as possible. Check out the local farmer’s market or farm store, for example. You’ll be eating produce that hasn’t travelled from who-knows-where, so it will be fresher. Plus, you’re helping the environment!

4. Unplug

What’s the first thing you do when your electronic device is experiencing problems? Unplug it. That’s also good advice for humans. When you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or just tired, consider putting your phone away for a while. You might be surprised by the results.

In fact, more and more research is pointing to the negative effects of screen time on our mental health, as well as our physical health. (“Tech neck” is just one example.) If you find device detox challenging, don’t hesitate to get help. This may be a bit ironic, but there are apps that can help you cut down on screen time.

5. Eat for gut health

Scientists are learning more about the importance of the gut-brain-axis connection. What does this mean? In simple terms, the bacteria in your gut can influence your moods – and vice versa.

When your gut microbiome is out of balance, you can experience many health problems, including that annoying “brain fog” feeling. You can also suffer from the effects of a weakened immune system.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. And delicious. Eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, plain yogurt, dill pickles, and unsweetened kefir can help restore the balance of bacteria in your gut. Eating foods high in fiber will help fuel that bacteria.

6. Rethink the sweet treats

The harmful effects of sugar extend far beyond what you may realize. Your skin, your heart, your moods, your teeth, your immune system are all hurt by this tasty poison.

However, what makes avoiding sugar particularly tricky is that it’s often hidden. You probably know to avoid donuts, but sugar can also be found in everyday items like salad dressing and spaghetti sauce. So when you’re trying to cut down on sugar, start by reading the labels on all processed foods.  Avoid any foods where refined sugar is in the first seven ingredients.

Also, as Dr. Morstein suggests, choose one day a week when you can have a little refined sugar but stick to that day—that means six days a week you are refined sugar free!

7. Stretch!

Stretching is important!  It can improve your flexibility and mobility, reduce your risk of injury, and reduce stress levels. Doing it at the beginning of exercise is important!

Stretching, especially as we age, is also very important to help prevent injuries when being active—loose muscles, ligaments and tendons are less likely to strain or tear, and surrounding musculoskeletal structures are less likely to become inflamed, like bursas causing bursitis, or tendons causing tendinitis.

Even five minutes of stretching before diving into that hike, or spinning class, or lifting weights is enough to get your muscles, tendons and ligaments ready to go!

8. Help others

Looking for a way to improve your physical health, boost your overall life satisfaction, and reduce your risk of depression? The solution may lie outside of yourself. In other words, if you place more attention on helping others, you could be the one who benefits. There are many ways to volunteer your time to help others; check out the community you live in.

9. Take a walk outside and ideally in nature

Just a short walk every day can improve your:

  • Circulation
  • Mood
  • Muscle tone
  • Risk of heart trouble
  • Vitamin D levels
  • Blood sugar
  • Immunity

Just 30 minutes a day is enough to reap the benefits. Look for excuses to get outside in place of driving, or start the day with a nice stroll.  Walking around your neighborhood is great, but if you can move to a park, or get to nature it’s even better.

10. Smile and have fun!

Sometimes it can feel like the road to health is paved with work and sacrifice. However, simply choosing to view a healthy lifestyle with attitude of gratitude can make it easier to carry out your plans. After all, things like eating well, resting, and getting some exercise add to your life. Focus on the fun aspects: try new recipes, walk with friends, find a volunteer job that lets you explore a long-buried interest. You’ll be happy that you did

Are you ready to have a great year? We are definitely ready to help you take charge of your health for a fantastic, healthy 2020/

 

Resources:

https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/03/dc13-0084

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19306107

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504679/

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.695.830&rep=rep1&type=pdf

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7a75/29a9e6401679016ab78f398eaaf4487aff84.pdf

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