10 Easy Ways to Live a Happier and Healthier Life
I spoke at the Winnipeg Healing Connections Festival last weekend. I do a lot of presentations about what to eat and why, I teach gluten and dairy free baking classes and I have done presentations on proper movements. However, I've never done a presentation that hits on all of the above. I recently read The Slight Edge which really wasn't anything new to me, but I really loved the way he explained making changes. This presentation really encompassed that. I realized I needed to write these things down so everyone could benefit from them.
So many of us are looking for the magic bullet, that one thing that will make our lives better and our bodies healthier. But, the difference between you and your former self and your future self is not that one big thing. It is the things you choose to do every day that get you to where you want to go. They aren’t the sexy, exciting things, they are the boring everyday things. They’re the things that are just as easy to do as they are not to do. But, I promise, if you focus on these small day to day things, your life will change. Not by tomorrow, not by next week, probably not even by next month, but if you do these things day in and day out, think of how amazing your life will be in a year, 5 years or even 20 years.
1. Eat Real, Whole Foods
Make real food a priority. Will it take more time to make food from scratch then driving through your favorite fast food place? Yes, it will. But if you truly commit to fueling yourself with real, whole foods you will function so much better.
2. Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep is the best cure you can get for the least amount of money. You will die faster without sleep than you will without food. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Stress less about falling asleep and simply work to be in bed for that amount of time. If you have a hard time falling asleep, avoid electronics for at least one hour before bed, make sure your room is free of electronics or put your phone on airplane mode and sleep in a dark, cool room.
Practice moving more than you are sedentary. As humans, we are not made to sit all day, but life has changed drastically over the past few years and many of us now have desk jobs. In addition to sitting all day at work, we sit as we commute to work, sit to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and then sit to watch television or work on the computer in the evening. You don’t have to do anything special or drastic, you simply have to stand up and move a bit. This can take as little as 30 seconds. Set your timer for every 20 or 30 minutes to remind yourself to stand up and stretch your hands over head or go for a quick walk.
4. Take 30
Carve out 30 minutes for yourself every day. Set your timer, remove distractions and just be. Curl up with a book, drink your coffee or tea and just enjoy some alone time.
Sugar has been linked to every Westernized disease. At no point, do we ever need to consume sugar. If you don’t already read food labels, start checking them out and you will be shocked at the types of food sugar is added to. Reducing your sugar intake will decrease your overall inflammation, improve your immune function, boost your brain capacity and slow down aging. If you get a chance, please read Gary Taubes's latest book, The Case Against Sugar.
6. Get Connected
Get connected to real, live people. Not through social media and not in a superficial way. Instead of checking your phone when you are checking out at the store, talk to the cashier. Make quality conversation with others. Ask questions. Say hello to strangers. We spend so much of our time connecting to others digitally, that we forget how to interact face to face. Call up a friend or family member. Meet someone for coffee. Start making a point to connect to others in non-technological ways.
7. Make Your First Meal Count
Your mom was right, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s the first meal you will have after your longest fast. Eating a breakfast full of protein and fat will help set your hormones up more appropriately for the day rather than dealing with up and down blood sugar levels you will have after a breakfast high in carbohydrates. Think bacon and eggs rather than cereal.
8. Be Kind
What if you were kind to everyone you encountered today, regardless of how they treated you? What if you were kind to everyone even though you had a less than ideal day? Most people don’t know what you are going through and we often don’t know what others are going though. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Also, be kind to yourself. Speak to yourself the same way you would speak to someone else.
9. Learn Something New
We have unlimited access to information online. Find a free or inexpensive online course. Your local community center, art center or school probably offers classes at an extremely affordable price. Remember that activity or hobby you used to love? Start it back up! Use your brain differently to maximize your potential. I love Skillshare for this!
10. Focus on Extension
We spend most of our day in a flexed position. When we are born, we have just spent 9 months in the womb in a flexed position. Working our way into an extended position through tummy time and learning to stand develops our brain more extensively than any other animal. As we age, we naturally start moving back into a flexed posture. If we can avoid this by focusing on extension exercises and standing up and stretching on a regular basis we can keep our brains and our bodies healthier resulting in more quality years of life.
Think of your health more like you think of your retirement account. One big deposit is probably not going to make a huge difference. However, if you start adding money early and consistently, you will have a much better chance of success and wealth. Is it guaranteed? Unfortunately, no, but you are laying the foundation and setting yourself up for the best possible chance of a lifetime of health and happiness.