Six healthy habits that can be easily incorporated into your day
Love to reap the rewards of a healthy lifestyle, but just don’t have time for a drastic change? Here are six healthy habits that can be easily incorporated into your day.
Don’t we all wish that we could be that bit more healthier… without the effort?
As easy as it is to have good intentions, sticking to them is another matter. So instead we embark on extreme overhauls to our lives – diets, detoxes, new gym memberships. All in the effort to become a new, better version of ourselves.
But the problem with huge life changes is that they’re rarely sustainable. Going from couch potato to nightly gym enthusiast just isn’t realistic. Nor is that no carb, no alcohol, no fun detox you’ve just embarked on.
Sure you might maintain the initial enthusiasm for a few days or even weeks, but what happens when you inevitably stop? You just return to your TV-watching, crisp-eating habits of old.
(Depending on which study you read, we last, on average, anywhere between seven days and five weeks before abandoning a new health regime.)
So what can you do if you want to be healthier and happier? The answer is not to dramatically change your life overnight, but to make small, healthier changes that you can easily adopt into your daily routine without much upset. And therefore be more likely to maintain.
To help you, here are six healthy habits that can be easily incorporated into your day.
1) Change your mindset
If you want to change your life, you first need to change your attitude. Looking at the same old problems with the same old mindset is only going to lead to the same old results.
Instead, start to approach your life with a more resilient growth mindset. Be open to new experiences and embrace positive change.
So exactly how can you change your mindset? If it was as simple as just flicking an internal switch, we’d all be doing it.
As with many changes, it’s a case of small, do-able actions made consistently. And one positive way to start shifting your mindset is to practice morning affirmations. They’re quick and easy to adopt into your existing morning routine.
If you want to start practicing affirmations that work, read this article. It explains how to create affirmations that you genuinely believe in, and that will help you create the mindset you want.
2) Add protein to every meal
When we think about a healthy diet, the first foods that come to mind are fruit and vegetables. And, while they’re certainly important, there’s another less celebrated food group that has an essential role to play in both physical and mental wellbeing. And that’s protein.
A high protein diet can help you to maintain a healthy weight and even preserve muscle health with ageing. Not consuming enough protein, on the other hand, can lead to a number of undesirable symptoms, including:
- Sugar cravings.
- Thinning hair.
- Weak nails.
- Lower immunity.
- Swollen feet.
Protein is also important for good mental health. Protein-rich foods (particularly turkey) have high concentrations of tryptophan, an important amino acid in the production of serotonin. And serotonin, as you probably know, is the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter, responsible for our feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
So make sure you include a source of protein with every meal. And luckily this is easier than you may imagine.
You don’t need to devour a huge steak three times a day to maintain your protein levels. Fish, cheese, Greek yoghurt, eggs, nuts and seeds, lentils, chickpeas, soy products, celery, peanut butter and even a glass of milk all contain protein. And of course as mentioned already, turkey.
Aim to get your protein from ‘real’ food, rather than processed snack bars. You’ll feel more energised and sustain higher levels of concentration throughout your day.
3) Eat more fat
And now for some good news: if you want to be healthy, you need to eat fat (though obviously not too much).
Fats give your body the energy it needs to work properly. It also keeps your skin and hair healthy, and helps you absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Fats from your food also give your body essential fatty acids called linoleic and linolenic acid. Your body can’t make these fatty acids, and needs them for brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting.
But of course, not all fats are equal. So sadly we’re not advocating eating fish and chips, or a burger every night. But instead ensuring that you get a daily intake of the right type of fats.
A quick way to ensure you’re getting enough good fats is to snack on a few nuts, or add cheese and apple to your afternoon snack. When you do, you should see your concentration levels improve.
Other sources of good fats are avocados, dark chocolate, eggs, fatty fish, coconuts, extra virgin olive oil and full fate yoghurt.
4) Drink more water
We all know the health benefits of water, but are you drinking enough every day? While the recommended daily intake varies according to factors like age and illnesses, the average adult man needs to consume 3.7 litres of water, and women should drink 2.7 litres every day.
But don’t worry – you can get about 20% of this intake from food. This leaves leaving men drinking 3 litres a day and women 2.1 litres.
And there’s plenty of good reason to ensure you’re getting enough water. Not only can it boost your productivity, but even just mild levels of dehydration have been shown to produce disruptions in mood and cognitive functioning.
Of course you don’t need to down your daily volume in one. You can have a glass of bottle at your desk to sip from, with your hourly required intake clearly marked.
And when you hit your planned quota for the hour or the day, reward yourself, and fire up your dopamine reward centres with a positive habit.
Your reward could be a warm cup of tea or a walk outside, or something more personal to you. If you’d like to make this easier you can join my water challenge here.
5) Get bored
Research from the University of Cambridge illustrated that taking time out to daydream will mean that you become more productive at work.
By allowing your mind to wander, you give it the opportunity to reorder your thoughts – filing away information, and enabling you to tackle bigger problems later in the day.
Conversely, by filling every waking hour with activity or distractions, you don’t give you brain time to breathe. To process any input and form new connections and, as a result, come up with new ideas.
So, as strange as this may sound, if there aren’t natural breaks in your day when you have nothing scheduled, schedule them. Consciously make time to do nothing and allow your mind to wander and quieten.
6) Go outside
There are so many benefits of spending time outside every day – especially if you can spend that time in nature.
Some of the benefits that have been proven are lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity. Which basically means you’ll feel more rested and less inclined to stress after a ‘forest bath’.
So if you live or work near a park or woods, fantastic. Try to get out at lunchtime for a quick stroll. If not, it’s still worth escaping your desk and getting some exercise and air, away from the same four walls for a break. Just half an hour a day is enough to feel the benefits.
Try these six easy lifestyle changes
So, if you want to make some quick and easy lifestyle changes that will benefit your physical and mental wellbeing, try adopting these into your daily routine:
- Change your mindset – do three morning affirmations.
- Add more protein every meal – add protein to every meal and snack.
- Drink more water – aim for 8 glasses of 250ml a day.
- Eat more fat – add nuts and cheese to your day.
- Be bored – daydream every day.
- Get outside – reduce stress and give yourself the chance to reframe.
Adele Stickland is the founder of Get Gorgeous, an online platform dedicated to inspiring and empowering women to great health and more vitality. Over 20 years, she has educated hundreds of women on the role of nutrition, movement and a healthy mind-set.
Gorgeous!(Panoma press £14.99) is the new book by Adele that recently launched provides women with expert guidance to change their perception of food. Adele is also passionate that for sustainable weight loss to occur, the right mindset needs to be in place from the offset.
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson