10 Steps to a Healthier, More Vibrant Life
Are you feeling under the weather? Frustrated? Anxious? Do you feel discontented with life? Exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually? If you answered yes to any of these questions it might be time for you to take a good hard look at your lifestyle and re-evaluate your goals and where you want to go. It’s never too late. The best time to start is now. Let’s take a closer look at what steps you can take to create a healthy and vibrant life for yourself.
1. Make Time for Physical Activity
Taking care of your body and maintaining physical fitness is essential to leading a healthy life. Studies have shown that as little as 30-minutes per day of exercise can have dramatic positive effects on your overall health. Exercise relieves stress, improves blood flow, sleep, mood, self-image, mental acuity, and helps prevent and combat obesity.
The good news is that you don’t have to join a gym or participate in a strenuous exercise program in order to reap the benefits. Walking, stretching, and doing household chores are some of the activities you can do. The most important thing to do is get up off the couch and move your body. Best of all, you don’t even have to exercise for 30-minutes in a row. You can break it down into increments of 3 x 10-minutes and achieve the same health benefits.
2. Eat a Nutritious and Well Balanced Diet
Have you heard of the saying “you are what you eat?” It simply means that if you fill your body with high fat, high sugar foods and empty calories you will be creating an unhealthy body. Such a diet increases your risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardio-vascular disease. Conversely, a healthy diet will help fight against disease, improve your mood, energy and overall health.
Eating a healthy diet includes choosing healthy, whole foods in their natural form instead of processed foods. Whole foods such as raw fruits and vegetables are packed full of easily digestible vitamins and minerals. Plus they contain fibre, which aids digestion and decreases overeating by making you feel full sooner.
3. Learn to Relax
Learning how to relax is essential in today’s high pressure, busy environment. Relaxing allows the calm, rational “thinking” part of your brain to come to the fore through all the chaos. Practicing relaxation techniques helps to ground you during times of stress and interrupts the flow of stress induced hormones into the body.
Deep breathing is an immediate technique which when used properly can be highly effective in reducing stress and improving your health. Use the 16-second rule when applying this technique, breaking it into 4 equal parts. Breathe in to the count of four. Hold for the count of 4. Breathe out for the count of 4. Hold for the count of 4.
4. Practice Daily Meditation
Meditation and visualization are powerful tools which can have a positive impact on your life. Meditation allows your mind and body to relax and promotes feelings of contentment. Try spending a few minutes every morning closing your eyes and visualizing how you would like your day to progress.
This will set the tone for your day from which to build positive expectations and outcomes. At the end of the day visualize things you would do differently if the day did not go as planned. Then visualize the day having gone as planned.
A common problem in modern society is that people take on too many things at once. A busy mom may be packing lunches, getting the kids off to school, running to work, returning home to make dinner, and rush out the door to extracurricular activities. If you’re feeling stressed and as though there aren’t enough minutes in the day, it might be time to take stock and simplify your life.
Slow down. Maybe the kids don’t need to be in 5 different after school activities each or maybe it’s time to scale back on work hours or find a job closer to home that doesn’t involve a 2-hour commute. In order to live a healthy life it may be necessary to slow down and simplify.
6. Learn to Trust your Intuition
Your intuition, gut or sixth sense is something you were born with. It’s difficult to measure and more difficult to quantify. However, despite this, it’s never wrong. Intuition is a primitive protective defense that warns us of danger or whether a decision we are making is really in our best interests. You can nurture your intuition by meditation, relaxing and opening your mind or taking walks.
You might want to keep a journal of all the times you ignored or heeded your intuition and the consequences thereof. Some people find it helpful to sleep on a decision they are struggling with. This allows your relaxed, subconscious (where your intuition resides) to contemplate the problem and provide a solution.
7. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude has been described as the most important element to achieving happiness. It changes your perspective, reduces stress and attracts people and opportunities to you. It helps to foster peace of mind, contentment and when shared with others, helps nurture and develop positive social relationships.
People like to be around positive people. Gratitude makes everyone feel good. You may want to consider keeping a gratitude journal. Try to write down at least three things every day for which you are grateful. If you can get into the habit of doing this you will find more and more things to be grateful about. Before you know it you will be feeling much happier and your life and overall health will improve.
8. Live in the Present
Emotional pain is associated with time travel. Either you are thinking about the past and all the negative things that happened or you are imagining all the negative things that are going to happen. Stop scaring yourself. Today is the proverbial first day of the rest of your life. It’s here. It’s now. In this moment. It’s unique and will never be repeated.
So enjoy. The choice is up to you. Let everything else go. Enjoy the feel of the sun on your face or the feel of a luxurious warm bath on your skin. Choose to be positive and enjoy the day. Today is a gift. There’s a reason it’s called the “present”.
9. Nurture Healthy Relationships
Humans are sentient beings and are not meant to live in isolation. Healthy social relationships foster a healthy and satisfying life. On the flip side, toxic relationships can take a terrible toll on your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Take stock of your relationships. Let go of the ones that drain you and cause you sleepless nights. Encourage and foster the relationships that help you grow. Build new and meaningful relationships. It takes time and effort to build a supportive social network but the positive effects on your overall health will be worth it.
10. Give Back
Giving back to others flows naturally from a heart filled with gratitude. It helps reframe your thinking and allows you to more realistically assess what is truly important in life. Giving back to others allows you to be part of something bigger than yourself. It improves your mood and feels good to help others because it nurtures your spirituality and strengthens your feelings of social connection.
Giving back does not have to be complicated. There are many ways to give back. You can give your time, money or experience. You can volunteer at a food bank, make a donation to a charity or lend your neighbor a cup of sugar. Giving back is a selfless act that can help you lead a healthier and more satisfying life.