Sometimes, it seems like living a healthy life and taking care of yourself has become way too complicated. “Experts” shower us with new health information every week, sometimes every day. They encourage us to do this, don’t do that, buy this, and avoid that.
Honestly, it just seems overwhelming. Even though I consider myself a health information junkie, I sometimes throw up my hands trying to figure out which advice makes sense and which is best ignored. (Includes affiliate links)
But it really doesn’t have to be that complicated. More often than not, the simplest advice is the best advice. And when we’re already living busy, stress-filled lives, simple health advice is exactly what we need.
So if you want to take care of yourself and live healthier without feeling overwhelmed, here are 5 simple things you can do every day:
1. Stand more. “Sitting is the new smoking” – have you heard that phrase? Research has shown that sitting too much is bad for our health – it affects our bones, heart, brains and muscles. And most of us spend way too much time sitting each day. So stand more. If you work at a desk, get a standing desk and alternate sitting and standing. (Or make one. Tiffany at Eat at Home Cooks made this great standing desk for $17.)
If you tend to sit while doing kitchen or household tasks, stand up instead. Stretch and move around while watching TV. Stand at the back of the room at meetings or events. Be conscious of the time you spend sitting, and replace it with standing whenever possible.
2. Walk more. Exercise is one of the primary keys to your physical and mental health, but many women find it difficult to exercise regularly. Fortunately, though, walking is great exercise – so make it a point to walk more each day.
Walk while your kids are at soccer practice or piano lessons. Walk while talking with a friend. Walk with a co-worker when you need to talk about a project. Walk with your husband after dinner to catch up on your days. Your body was designed to move, so get up and get moving throughout the day, every day.
3. Sleep more. Although most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, many women get far less. But sleep makes a tremendous difference in your health. It reduces your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, helps reduce anxiety and depression, promotes healthy skin, and boosts libido. Not to mention makes you feel like a new woman!
So make it a priority to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. It’s absolutely critical to taking care of yourself. It may mean saying no to some things or reigning in your family’s schedule and activities. Or it might mean shutting off electronic devices earlier in the evening and taking some time to relax and unwind. Whatever it takes, decide that you and your health are worth a good night’s sleep, then make it happen.
4. Drink more water. Water helps all of your body’s systems and processes function more efficiently. It also helps you feel less fatigued and more energized. But water advice tends to be complicated, so how do you know how much to drink? In general, the standard recommendation to drink 6 to 8 8-ounce glasses a day is a good place to start, because most people don’t drink nearly that much. (When you’re drinking enough water, your urine will be pale yellow.)
So as a very simple way of taking care of yourself, find a water bottle or glass you like, fill it several times a day, and drink up. If you don’t like plain water, make your own fruit water. And take water with you everywhere you go, so aren’t tempted to grab a soda when you get thirsty.
5. Eat more fruits and vegetables. When it comes to health information, food advice is a real drama queen! One day she demands you do this, the next day she demands you do that. It seems like the more you read about what to eat, the less you know about what to eat! It’s enough to make you want to give up and grab a Twinkie.
But don’t do it. Instead, follow the one piece of food advice that almost everyone agrees on – fruits and vegetables benefit every aspect of your health, and almost everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables. And a simple way to do that is to eat two fruits or vegetables at every meal.
So make a meal plan and grocery list for each week that includes two fruits and vegetables per meal, and take some time on the weekend to wash and prep them so they’re ready to grab and go or grab and cook on busy days. And for lots of healthy food prep tips and hacks and healthy no-recipe meals, get a copy of my ebook, Quick. Healthy. Delicious. Simple Meal Solutions for Busy Moms and Hungry Families. Use the code FRIEND25 at checkout to save 25%.
Bonus – Have more sex. Although most people aren’t going to have sex every day, it’s worth noting that sex is great for your mental and physical health. It reduces stress, adds some fun and excitement to your life, promotes intimacy with your husband, and strengthens your marriage. So think of regular sex as a way to take care of yourself and don’t let busyness crowd it out of your life.
What are your tips for including healthy habits in your life? Please share them in the Comments – I’d love to hear from you.
Also published at Medium.