Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your overall health without making you go completely berserk.
“Health is wealth” — this ancient piece of wisdom can never get outdated and it was also one of the biggest learnings of this COVID 19 pandemic. If anything, these last two years have taught us, it’s to make our physical and mental well-being the top priority. The key to doing this is pretty simple — adopt healthy habits. Studies have proven that among the many influencing factors, it is the lifestyle choices we make which dominate our health more than our genes.
While we understand making any sudden drastic changes to one’s lifestyle can be overwhelming, the idea is, to begin with, tiny steps. The truth is, even small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your overall health gradually. And the good news is, there are plenty of little things you can do which are sure to benefit your health in the long run, without making you go crazy. So, are you game for it and wondering how to go about it? Well, worry not, we have got you covered. We have curated a list of small lifestyle changes that can help you upgrade your health and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine without much effort.
So, without further ado, here you go.
Stop contemplating & act
The very first step to a healthier you, begins with acting on your health goals. You might forever be in that “I am thinking about it…” stage, but you need to stop contemplating adopting healthy habits and start acting on them. Whether it is to start going for daily walks or making healthier eating choices, or cutting out sugary drinks — whatever choice you planning to make, just commit to it and bring it into practice, even if it is a small change such as walking for 10 minutes a day.
Keep a positive approach
Your attitude matters the most when you set out on a journey towards your well-being. You are more likely to succeed if you approach everything you do with a positive mindset. So be it deciding to eat healthier, sticking to an exercise regime, or destressing — you will have more willpower to act on the choices you make if you are optimistic about bringing a change in your life.
Head to the kitchen
Quick, cheap and convenient options like fast food, frozen pre-made meals, takeout, microwavable ready-to-eat items often become go-to options amid our fast-paced routine. However, these foods are not only high in calories but are also deficient in important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Hence one needs to return to the kitchen to keep a check on one’s health. Start with making at least one small healthy meal for you and your family in a day. It can even be a small colourful bowl of freshly cut fruits or salad. Further, making a weekly meal plan can resolve your perennial problem of ‘what to cook?’
Welcome healthy snacking
Often it becomes difficult to follow a diet, but the easiest way to add some nutritional elements to our day-to-day routine is by adopting some healthy snacking habits. In fact, studies show that incorporating a healthy snack into our daily meal plan is good for our body, can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent bloating. One can choose from a variety of healthy snacking options like nuts — walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, cashews etc. These nuts and seeds are loaded with many beneficial nutrients and micronutrients. You can even include fibre and protein-rich snacks like fruits and salad as your snacking option. So, the next time you feel hungry between meals, grab a handful of nuts or your fav fruit and enjoy your snack time.
Say hi to the leafy greens
Power-packed with vitamins, minerals, fibres, beta-carotene and other nutritional elements, leafy green vegetables are a must addition to your daily diet. Low on calories, eating leafy greens regularly can offer numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of obesity and heart diseases. It also boosts immunity, slows down signs of ageing and keeps your blood pressure levels in check. So, try to incorporate a leafy green in your diet, if not daily, at least a couple of times a week.
Have fresh fruit every day
Another simple and healthier choice to make is to have fresh fruit every day. Fruits are loaded with important vitamins, minerals, potassium and other compounds, such as antioxidants, that benefit the body. Consuming fruits daily can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Eating fruits also help control blood pressure and cholesterol, improve gut and digestive health, and protect against certain types of cancer. So cautiously make it a habit to have at least one fruit of your choice daily.
Get a good night sleep
A healthy sleep cycle is a reflection of good health. So don’t ever compromise on your sleep cycle and try to get at least a good 7 hours of sleep every night. If you have sleep issues, try using calming essential oils, reduce your screen time at least 30 mins before going to bed, or eat sleep-promoting foods, but do ensure that you get your dose of quality sleep every night.
Get up & get moving
Sitting all day, be it on the couch or at your office desk – isn’t a good practice for your butt, your heart and your overall health. While it might seem impossible to find time for a proper exercise routine, try to sprinkle movement into your daily routine. For example, for every hour you spend sitting, be cautiously aware of it and get up and walk briskly for five minutes. You can even set reminders on your phone to get up and start moving. Furthermore, every time you receive a call, try to get up from your seat and move while you speak to the caller. Take the steps when you can, or walk around your office and home whenever you can.
Keep the mind calm
We often underestimate the commands which we send to our minds subconsciously. The only direct way of changing these patterns is by making small changes in our actions. The things that unknowingly give you stress like work or tricky situations can get your mind overworked too. It doesn’t require laughing therapy, but just smiling or taking a break to spend with your furry friend or calling your loved ones during such situations will get your mind back in a healthy state. Furthermore, simply breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes can help you relax.
Believe it or not, but many of us at times forget the basic thing — to drink enough water. We need to drink at least eight glasses of water per day to stay sufficiently hydrated. Drinking water regularly also helps with improving brain function, keeping our muscles strong, boosts metabolism, promotes better skin, gives you more energy and even benefits in weight loss.
Slow down & take a deep breath
Being in a hurry is unfortunately the new normal for many of us in this fast-paced life. And we are often moving faster than it is required, which unknowingly adds stress to our lives and is detrimental to our health. In a day take time out to pause, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, just breath and count your blessing. This small daily practice is sure to give you long term health benefits.
Starve your distractions & feed your focus
Televisions and phones have taken up our precious and most important meal times as well. Keep these things away from your mealtimes. Eating is a very important activity, and being mindful of it is extremely beneficial to our health. Mindful eating helps us avoid overeating and improves digestion. So, cut down all the distractions during mealtime, observe and pay attention to your food and see how it reciprocates and rewards you.
Learn to read food labels
While making healthier lifestyle choices, it is also good to start with your grocery purchases. Reading food labels help you make informed food choices and makes you more aware of what you should be consuming, thus pushing you towards better health. If you have health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol and need to follow a special diet, knowing how to read food labels is especially important to make healthier choices.
Make small adjustments
When it comes to your eating habits, making small meaningful dietary adjustments can benefit you in the long run. For example, if you crave something sweet, have fruit instead of a heavy dessert, opt for Greek yoghurt over ice cream or sour cream, choose baked food items over fried etc.
Dine light & early
Nutritionists all over the world agree about one thing — to have a light and early dinner. Our body works as per a certain cycle called the ‘circadian rhythm.’ This is like our body’s clock, which helps us to adjust to environmental changes, sleep, and activities like digestion and eating. Thus, the time we eat our meals can also affect our body's weight regulation, metabolic regulation, heart health and sleep cycle. Having an early dinner is good for our metabolism, and the body can utilise the food better. Furthermore, having heavy meals at night can affect our sleeping patterns and increase the risk of indigestion and heartburn. So, ensure to have an early and light dinner every day to maintain good health.
Last but not the least, remember good health is not what is trending. Good health is what works for you. So, be aware of what works for you and what doesn’t and act accordingly. And most importantly — ‘DON’T GIVE UP’. Maintaining good health isn’t an instant process, so don’t be harsh on yourself if it takes a while to reach your health goals.