Most people think about improving their own health and wellbeing on a daily basis. They think about getting to bed earlier every night, eating a more nutritious diet, being much more active during the day, quitting smoking, or wishing to create a healthier work life balance.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle however, is not as difficult as it seems. With some clarity about what you actually want to achieve, and combined with some planning and problem solving, a positive lifestyle change can be achieved. These 7 tips can help:
1. Make the commitment, and plan your healthy lifestyle
Making the decision to change is often the most important step. Once you’ve made the commitment however, setting an achievable goal that is SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) can help you reach your desired outcome…
Once you’re clear on your goals, it is important that you reflect on the strategies that you’re going to put in place to help you get there. Will you for example, walk on a daily basis for 30 minutes after dinner? Will you aim to have breakfast every day that doesn’t involve a coffee and a muffin? Will you try to reduce your exposure to the sun’s UV rays or will you aim to incorporate more vegetables for dinner? Or maybe, you would like to learn how to manage your stress much more effectively by being more mindful throughout the day?
Learn to make your health a priority and identify the goal or goals that resonate with you.
2. Record your daily lifestyle habits
An effective way to keep your health in check is to keep a timeline of how you spend your day. Whether it’s keeping an exercise diary, or a food one, or recording how much time you actually spend on social media before going to bed, this information can help bring some clarity and perspective to your lifestyle choices.
Once you’re clear about what you wish to change, put some effective strategies in place, and start taking action towards your goal.
3. Live mindfully
Start to become mindful of your daily habits and routines. What exactly are you eating or drinking for example? Will it provide you with energy and vitality? Or is it full of fat or sugar which will make you feel sluggish, tired and disappointed for eating it in the first place?
How much are you sitting throughout the day without taking a break?
How are you managing your thoughts and emotions throughout the day? Be mindful and put strategies in place to deal with those thoughts and emotions constructively and positively, without food for example…
4. Prioritise exercise as part of your healthy lifestyle
There are many proven benefits of being physically active on a daily basis, including a lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Exercise also increases your energy levels and improves your overall mood and mental health; this includes relieving depression and anxiety.
How much exercise is recommended?
The recommendation is that we aim to move for at least 20 – 30 minutes every day. This however, can be broken down to 3 x 10 minute blocks throughout the day – this makes it achievable for everyone.
Can’t exercise for 10 minutes? Five minutes a day is a great start – it’s more than you did yesterday, and doing something is better than nothing!
Even on the days when you feel tired, lack the motivation and/or just don’t feel like breaking into a sweat, get up and move anyway.
If your seated at work for long periods of time, try and stretch every 30 mins or so, or go for a short walk to the tea room. Moving our body in short bursts can make a difference to our overall health and wellbeing as well as our productivity during the day.
5. Be consistent every day
Once you’ve established some new healthy habits, repeating them every day is crucial for long term behaviour change. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is dependent on the daily choices you make.
Whether you’ve decided to walk every day during your lunch break, or you’ve decided to incorporate more vegetables into your cooking, or you’re no longer going to drink three cans of soft drink a day, be consistent every day with your new healthy habit. Over time, this new behaviour becomes routine behaviour, and before you know, you will be doing it every day without much thought.
If you are consistent with your choices on a daily basis, you WILL get results! Remember, it’s the decisions that you make every day that have the biggest impact.
As part of this, evaluate your lifestyle choices on a regular basis, and if the unhealthy choices are starting to creep back in, reset and start again.
6. Believe in yourself – don’t let fear get in the way
Most importantly, learn to trust the choices that you make on a daily basis, and believe that achieving a healthy lifestyle is possible for you.
Don’t let your fear of failure get in the way. All you can do is try, and trying is better than sitting around and not doing anything to improve your health and wellbeing.
Remember, you have a choice – make it a positive one.
7. It’s okay to reach out for help
At times, we all need help, so when the going gets tough, and you don’t know where to start or what to do – reach out for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a mark of strength – it means that you acknowledge that something needs to be done and you actually do something about it.
Invest in yourself. Explore the options available and decide what’s best for you. Remember that what you don’t know, you don’t know. Improve your knowledge, as knowledge is power and ignorance is expensive.