We all know that a healthy lifestyle keeps us feeling our best. Not only do healthy habits help maintain our physical health and mental wellbeing, they also help fight disease and promote a longer, happier life.
Experts are regularly finding new correlations between healthy habits and holistic wellness. But adopting a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about food and exercise. It’s about taking care of the ‘whole you’ – your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
So, what does it really mean to live a healthy life?
Love your fruits and veggies
We all know that we should be eating 3 daily serves of fruits and vegetables. But did you know that only around 5%of Aussie adults eat enough fruit and veg each day?
Food is the fuel that powers our bodies. Fruits and veggies are nutrient-packed powerhouses filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre essential to good health.
Try to incorporate a large range of nutritious fruits and veggies into your diet. Aim to create a rainbow on your plate each day – different coloured fruit and veg all have different properties that help power your body!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Our bodies contain up to 60%water. That’s not to say we’re simply walking water-bottles… far from it! Water actually performs a multitude of essential functions within our bodies.
Water keeps our cells healthy, helps us flush waste, and aids in digestion. It also helps deliver oxygen all over the body, regulates our temperature, and helps the brain manufacture hormones too!
Do you drink enough water each day?
If you’re drinking less than 2 litres a day, you might actually be dehydrated. Dehydration makes it harder for your body to perform many vital functions. And it affects your mental performance too, making it much harder to concentrate and make decisions.
It’s easy to start making hydration a habit. Some things to try:
- Drink a big glass of water as soon as you wake up
- Eat fruit and vegetables with a high water content (apples, berries, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers – yum!)
- Put fruit in your water – this adds some flavour if you don’t like water much (it adds nutrients too!)
- Carry a refillable water container with you, so you can sip on-the-go.
Tame your inner stress-monster
We all encounter stressful situations at times. But if stress is a dominant part of your everyday life, it may be having a more detrimental effect than you realise.
Stress triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response, getting the body ready to take action against potential danger. It triggers the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which make our heart beat faster, our breathing rate increase, and our metabolism speed up.
Sure, that can be useful for giving us a ‘kick’ to help manage short term stressors. But long term, functioning in a regularly stressed state can cause many negative effects on our health.
For some people, stress slows the digestion process too, causing bloating and constipation. For others, stress has the opposite effect – resulting in frequent trips to the toilet and loose, watery stools. If you suffer from IBS, it’s likely that stress worsens that condition too.
There are different ways to manage stress, so it’s important to find strategies that work best for you. Identifying your triggers, practicing mindfulness, prioritising family time and exercise can all help reduce your stress levels.
And if you want extra help, reach out to a professional counsellor or psychologist.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleeping is a primary human need, like drinking, eating, and breathing. Just like these other needs, sleeping is a vital part of the foundation for good health and wellbeing throughout our lifetime.
Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and depression. It also changes the way our immune system responds to viruses and threats, making it harder to fight colds and other infections.
Sadly, it’s estimated that 39.8% of Australian adults experience some form of inadequate sleep. If you’re getting less than 7-8 hours a night, try these tips for getting more ZZZs.
- Keep to the same bedtime schedule every day to avoid disrupting your sleep-wake cycle.
- Use the hour before bed as ‘quiet time’ to wind down – read a book, listen to relaxing music, or meditate.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool (16-18 degrees).
- Avoid stimulants for a few hours before bedtime, including vigorous exercise, nicotine, caffeine, and energetic music.
- Don’t rely on alcohol to send you to sleep – it actually leads to much poorer sleep quality.
Get moving, more often!
Regular exercise does wonders for the body and mind. Even just 30 minutes a day can have lasting benefits on how we feel.
Some of the many benefits of regular exercise include:
- Improving mood and decreasing feelings of depression, stress and anxiety
- Maintaining strong muscles and maintaining strength as we age
- Increasing bone density and protecting against osteoporosis
- Boosting energy levels and vitality
- Reducing risk of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes
- Increasing mental function as we grow older
It’s never too late to get active!
There are loads of ways you can increase your daily activity. Go for a few walks a day. Take up a new sport. Walk to the local shops. Join a gym or bootcamp squad. Get your friends together for activities a few times a week.
It’s up to you!