When it comes to health advice, many people have very different opinions. Sometimes you will hear people say to eat keto and lift weights, while other times people will say you should do cardio and count calories. With the multitude of different suggestions, it can be difficult to find a routine that works for you.
Many people want to improve their health and don’t know which areas are most important – should sleep and diet be the main focus or exercise? The real answer is to focus on developing a healthier lifestyle and improving different aspects of your life that can have a positive impact on health.
Some of the most obvious, according to Stanford, are sleep, diet, exercise, stress management (and with spring approaching, sunlight helps) and relationships. Here’s how you can make small improvements in each of these areas.
How to improve your sleep
Improving sleep can seem like an impossible task. After coming home from school or work, time can fly. There are a few things you can do to help you sleep better. First, give up the blue light before sleeping. As tempting as it is to browse social media or text your friends right before bed, staring at blue light can negatively impact your sleep. Scrolling your phone can also keep your brain active, making it harder to fall asleep, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Try turning off your electronic devices a few hours before bed and doing other activities, like reading a book or meditating before bed, which can help you relax. Be sure to set your alarm before putting your phone down.
Another thing that can improve your sleep is avoiding caffeine before bed, according to the CDC. Try to stop drinking caffeine at noon each day so that when you fall asleep the effects of it have worn off. Improving sleep is all about making small changes that will benefit you in the long run. Good sleep is important for hormone regulation and overall health, and it can help you make good long-term decisions.
How to improve your diet
Improving your diet can seem like a daunting task. An easy way to make changes is to think about making simple changes. If you eat fries for lunch, consider replacing them with carrots and celery. If you’re cooking a pasta dish, consider replacing white flour pasta with chickpea or red lentil pasta. If you like fried chicken, try making a baked version.
A few of these switches can be helpful in making gradual, positive changes toward health. Also think about what you can add to the meals you like. Say you really like mashed potatoes – consider making half a potato then half a cauliflower. Or think of a pasta dish you love, like baked ziti. Think about how you can add broccoli and spinach to it. While your diet can be improved, chances are that if you immediately switch to salads all the time, you won’t make lasting changes.
There are other small changes you can make. Healthline suggests paying attention to protein intake and staying hydrated throughout the day. Another tip is to stay away from diet foods. Consider eating whole foods when trying to improve your diet.
How to start exercising
If you’ve stopped exercising, it’s not too late to start again. Real Simple suggests that when trying to pick up the exercise routine, start small. Instead of immediately trying to get back to where you were when you exercised the most, get into the habit of doing a few moves each day.
The best exercise to do is one that you do regularly and enjoy. Experiment with fitness classes or go to the gym or exercise at home or outdoors. Finding a routine that you enjoy can be a helpful way to start exercising.
Another way to start exercising is to create accountability for yourself. Talk to a friend about getting back into a routine and develop an accountability plan. Even if you start small, getting a little exercise each week can help you feel better.
Why sunlight is important for stress management
Managing stress can be a tricky thing to do. According to the Stanford Lifestyle Medicine Program, stress management can be done by identifying the cause of stress and then reacting accordingly. Sunlight can also play an important role in stress management.
According to The Wellesley News, sunlight can make us feel less stressed. There’s just something about the sun that makes us feel better. According to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, sunlight increases the amount of vitamin D you absorb — many people are deficient in it, so getting enough light each day can improve your health.
When you’re working 9 to 5, it can be hard to find time to go out. Consider taking your lunch break outside. It’s also a great time to take a short brisk walk, which can help keep you moving. Your mood can also be positively affected by spending more time in the sun.
How to Focus on Relationships
Focusing on relationships can improve your overall health. If you’re satisfied with your relationships, you might also be more inclined to spend more time improving your health in other ways.
Improving relationships is more of an art than a science. Spending time with the people you love can help improve your relationships. When you’re with someone you love, take the time to listen to them — really listen to them — and think about what they’re saying. Be sure to let the people in your life know that you appreciate them. Having strong relationships can improve your overall mood and health.