It is a state of well-being that when tested with trauma, stress, or even sleep deprivation, you can triumph and still achieve what you have set out to do.
What affects your mental health is not always controllable in the sense that we are not able to control other persons, places, and things in life.
What we can control is our reaction to the interactions with those people, places, and things. Relationships with others and family, work obligations, deadlines, and co-workers, and having everything we use from our cell phones, cars, computers, to even our bathrooms, can all throw unexpected twists into our days that present challenges.
Your lifestyle is a reflection of where you live, what you do, who you associate with, your interests, your preferences, and of course…..your choices.
The greatest gift of life is the freedom of choice we are granted. Within our daily lives, we are faced with choices that can challenge us, affect our emotions, and decide what actions we take.
There are a number of choices that are controllable and are recommended to contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
20 Healthy Lifestyle Tips
1. Drink plenty of water
Over 60% of the human body is made up of water. That is more than half of ourselves. Which means anything less than the ideal amount, would make our water levels insufficient. Water is like the gasoline our body needs to make functions happen.
Water helps with blood flow, digestion, transporting oxygen, transporting nutrients, and then removing any wastes.
We have to constantly replenish water in our system because we lose plenty of water through urine, sweat, bowel movements, and even when we breathe.
2. Eat plenty of fruit
The best way to obtain vitamins and minerals is through real food, and plenty of these are found in various types of fruit. It is better to eat an orange for vitamin C than to take a pill the same way. There are many types, so your taste buds are bound to find a few that you enjoy.
Eating a variety of fruits would of course provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. There are so many to choose from including bananas, blueberries, watermelon, peaches, and apples, just to name a few. They’re seasonable and can come frozen or fresh or even dried.
3. Get plenty of exercise
Movement is natural medicine for the body. Being sedentary increases the risk of poor health and there are many negative consequences when the body stays still. Sitting has become an early death sentence.
It is important to incorporate both cardiovascular and strength training into your exercise. Resistance training helps muscles and bones stay strong to support the skeletal system and make movement patterns happen.
Working the heart through cardiovascular training helps it stay strong and efficient. You also have to work different body parts. We might enjoy training legs more so than training arms, but imbalances only create troubles to come.
Not to mention over-stressing or training only certain body parts, such as pounding the knees by running every day and never doing other forms of exercise, adds stress and deterioration over time.
Exercise doesn’t just have to happen at the gym. It can be outside hiking, in a swimming pool, yoga, Pilates, biking, etc. Do what you enjoy and keep doing it.
4. Eat less processed foods
Our diets have become more and more from foods that have come out of an industrial line. This means they’re not real or “clean”.
They have been loaded with chemicals, ingredients, added sugars and sodium, and products that are foreign to our bodies. This is troublesome for our digestive tract because it becomes tainted with new items to break down that it has to figure out how to do so.
Foods that have labels on them are what we should eat less and less of. The more ingredients these labels have, the less we should be buying and eating them.
Cooking and preparing our own foods is best. When we eat out we don’t even know where the food has come from or what it is prepared with.
Everything from salad dressings to breads can be manufactured and mass produced. Go to the grocery store yourself and pick out your own food choices, focusing on fresh lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. But the items are not in packaging; the ones that you have to put in a bag yourself for freshness.
5. Avoid and eliminate toxic people in your life
There are some friends and acquaintances that are better left out of your life because they do not contribute to your wellbeing. Ask yourself, “Would my life be okay without (insert name)?” If you can answer, “yes”, then you know that you need to talk less and/or spend less time with this person or even a group of people.
Sometimes this person isn’t necessarily at fault and you might have guilty feelings about not being associated with them anymore.
For example, you know that your alcohol consumption has become excessive and a certain person is the one you hit happy hour with.
It may not be that you don’t enjoy that person and the fun you have at happy hour with them, but if this is the only time and place your friendship exists and drinking is the activity it centers upon, you may have to walk away from the relationship.
Personal relationships in which we feel in love with someone are difficult to walk away from. Sometimes we even have to do this with our own family members.
Troublesome relationships can teach ourselves how we should/shouldn’t be treated. We have to be careful with the way we let other people treat us because we are letting them know what is okay and what is not okay.
6. Eat plenty of vegetables
Vegetables are another great source of nutrients, especially fiber, potassium, and folate. There are actually two types of vegetables, however, all vegetables are important for us to be eating.
Starchy vegetables include potatoes, yams, and pumpkins. Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, spinach, and kale.
Some vegetables fall in the middle which include corn, peas, artichokes, and carrots. Vegetables can come frozen or fresh and even in a can. Leave space on your plate especially at lunch and dinner for vegetables to be included.
7. Get a yearly physical from your doctor
Regular check-ups are a proactive and preventative approach to your healthy lifestyle. Part of this includes having a comprehensive blood panel done so that your physician can check all levels of vitamins and substances your body needs to function efficiently.
For example, you need to know if you have enough iron and red blood cells so that oxygen is being properly delivered through your bloodstream.
Women and men need to have a pap smear performed and men should have their prostate checked once certain ages are reached.
Both women and men should also have their breasts examined. Doing all of this can catch illnesses, diseases, and even diseases early on before they progress to a point of no return.
You cannot see what is going on internally in your body so you need to have your health care provided to do so for you, which is covered by most, if not all insurances.
8. Go to the bathroom at the first indication you need to go
Sometimes we need to go to the restroom but due to current circumstances don’t go right when we need to. We might be in the car, be in a location that doesn’t have a restroom, the line to the restroom is long, or we can only take restroom breaks at certain times due to work or rules.
Holding your urine can cause urinary tract infections (UTI’s) eventually for some people. Getting rid of urine is getting rid of bacteria in your body that you excrete, so holding urine keeps bacteria inside that needs to be sent out which can lead to a UTI which is a bacterial infection.
Your pelvic floor also has to work extra hard when you try to hold your pee. This can lead to an overactive pelvic floor which can then make you feel like you need to urine all the time. Holding your pee isn’t training the muscles in your bladder to get stronger.
The opposite happens and instead these muscles will start to cramp and send painful signals that you need to go to the restroom. When you hold your pee, you are putting pressure on the bladder and kidneys.
When your bladder gets too full and you are holding it, urine can spill over into your kidneys. Your bladder can only hold about 2 cups of urine at a time, so the sensation of pee can come quickly if you drink a lot. This signal means it is time to go.
9. Don’t drink alcohol and don’t smoke
These are two habits that are not healthy mentally or physically for your lifestyle. Both can become addictive and both you can become dependent on.
Drinking and smoking are often associated with emotions. You do either or both when you are celebratory and happy and you do either or both when you are upset or stressed. You also do either or both when you are depressed or bored.
Very few people drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes just because they actually like the taste or really enjoy it.
They enjoy how they feel from it which heightens or suppresses emotions. Problems also arise when too much of these items are consumed. Trouble awaits for intoxication.
10. Say “No” when you need to
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, but sometimes we think that if we say “no” to an invitation, offering, or service, we are being selfish. This can be when someone offers us food or drinks.
This can be when someone asks us to do something for them, we might think we are being selfish with our time and/or resources if we decline.
Even when we know we will be spreading ourselves too thin, that we really don’t have the time, or that we are trying not to eat this or drink that, some of us say “yes”.
The “yes” is then putting ourselves in a situation that compromises what we are trying to achieve or do. Sometimes saying “no” is hard, but there are also times when you truly need to.
This is a circumstantial and case-by-case predicament, but in general, we need to say “no” when we need to say “no”. If that person who offered or asked keeps asking or doesn’t want to accept this answer, then in fact, they are being selfish and/or impolite.
Being the “yes” person to be a people pleaser is kind, but can be taken advantage of and in that sense, you become an enabler of others treating you in a way that puts you last and them first.
11. Stop eating when you feel full
This is one of those “easier said than done” concepts, but in truth, our stomach isn’t meant to stretch and expand to accommodate large amounts of foods that were tastebud pleasing. Your taste buds don’t tell you to stop eating, but your stomach does.
When you push the limits of your stomach’s storage unit, this is where the excess starts to build up and that extra leads to weight gain and health consequences.
Although not the scientific rationale, I like to think of eating too much causing your stomach to spill over. That spill over is the fat that spreads throughout the body.
It isn’t just an isolated incident of the stomach area. When most people lose weight, they see it in their face first. This is because the mouth isn’t in overdrive chewing and eating way too much.
I am happy. There’s no science in that, but it at least gives a visual and reminder of what eating too much does to us. The effects aren’t always immediate, but they do add up and spread out.
12. Have your teeth cleaned every 6 months or less
Oral health is important because what is going on with your teeth can actually enter your bloodstream. This means that if your gums are infected, this infection can reach your bloodstream.
Oral care is costly and addressing issues early on can prevent future, higher costs. Your smile is important so making sure the health of your teeth is intact is critical.
Cavities, cracks, and root issues can lead to discomfort and sensitivity which does not add to your quality of life. Regular cleanings are typically covered by most insurances so take advantage of this.
13. Treat others how you want to be treated
People in your life that you interact with either bring you up or bring you down and this is part of building healthy relationships.
How we treat others should reflect how we want to be treated. Would you want to be your friend or partner? Ask yourself this before making choices and acting upon them.
We know what it is like to be hurt and no matter what someone has done to us, to wish or want to hurt someone else isn’t at all part of a healthy lifestyle. This can be the most simple of things in life.
If you like being texted, “good morning”, maybe do the same for someone else. You know your personal boundaries too and how it makes you feel when they’re violated.
Think of that when you interact with other people. In the end, it feels good to make someone else feel good, so why not do it more? It would make life a lot more enjoyable.
14. Use the word “sorry” appropriately
When we say “sorry” we are asking for forgiveness for something we did or said. This is certainly important when serious mistakes are made or harm is done.
However, many tend to say “sorry” for even the simplest things when the statement or action doesn’t necessarily warrant saying “sorry”.
For example, let’s say you are in a math class and the professor has explained how to solve an equation. You don’t understand how to do it after trying and saying, “Sorry I don’t get it”. Using “sorry” this way connotes an inferior or low self-efficacy status.
You shouldn’t be “sorry” that you understand, rather, making the statement “I don’t get it” is the bottom line and the truth. We say “sorry” all the time: “sorry, I didn’t hear you”, “sorry, I need to use the restroom”, “sorry, I’m running late”, “sorry, I’m cold or hot”.
Are you really “sorry”? Then when we really are in a situation that we should be “sorry” for, it devalues the sentiment and feeling.
15. Get 10 minutes of sunshine every day
Vitamin D comes from the rays of the sun. Low exposure to sunlight can lead to bone pain, fatigue, and muscle weakness. Levels of low vitamin D have also been linked to weight gain and obesity.
The sun brightens up your mind and body, and of course this should come in limited doses so that too much sun exposure doesn’t cause skin aging and skin damage.
Staying cooped up can also correlate with not getting fresh air or activity. Getting up and out is important and helps incorporate an active lifestyle versus sitting behind a screen and/or desk all day.
16. Live within your means
A life of living in debt can be stressful and can spiral out of control. The whole you have dug yourself gets deeper and deeper.
Paying with credit cards and taking out loans is sometimes necessary, but when you do so, it has to be within the reality that you can and will pay these amounts back.
You have to budget your debt, not ignore it and let it pile up. It won’t go away. Even those who take out student loans, there is such a thing as the “golden handcuffs” which means even once you start making lots of money in your career, you still have to pay back the amount that got you there.
Interest rates are part of this. Sometimes spontaneous or living in the moment purchases simply weren’t responsible and once a contract or agreement is signed, a responsible adult has to abide and hold up their end of the terms.
17. Reduce screen time
We work on, watch, interact, and read on screen constantly each and every single day. Even now you are reading on a screen. We move from one activity to another, practically all somehow on a screen.
For those who work on a computer, approximately 8 hours per day would be behind a screen followed by whatever pleasure (social media, cell phone, reading or watching) that takes before, during, and after.
We talk less on the phone and more through text and email, which means more screen time. We can even read all the books we want on a screen, and school textbooks can even be digital. Screen time is multitasking between typing, texting, and reading.
Even listening to music requires looking at a screen to pick the playlist or set the station. We are getting faster and faster at texting and typing because we do it so much. Yet, amidst all this staring at the screens, we are straining our eyes and even our necks.
There are special protective glasses now made to reduce this eye strain. Unplugging is very difficult for us. We have to feel connected and available to be reached at all times.
We make ourselves accessible and expect the same with technology making everything accessible all the time to us. We have to let our eyes rest and our minds stop going at lighting speed to keep up with all the screens we are looking at.
Most of us love where we live and where we call “home”. We have our own little communities and neighborhoods that are part of our daily activities and interactions. We have our favorite local stores and locations to shop and eat.
We live in a giant country and there are many other countries out there and we should see them. When we see and visit other places, we learn about different communities and neighborhoods. It lets us appreciate where we are from, while at the same time we learn how others live.
It can be an eye opening experience and when we see how other people live, it makes us more aware of all the different cultures that exist. We learn to respect and recognize other cultures as well.
Having visited other places, I have seen their work life and family life which can be very different from the traditional American 9 to 5 life with hustle bustle everywhere.
We see other forms of transportation. We see how other places dine and shop. This allows us to reflect on how we live ourselves and what improvements or changes we could make, or how we might better appreciate what we have compared to other places.
When we stay put and don’t venture out to travel, even if it is just camping somewhere in nature, we never get the opportunity to understand how others live.
We stay in a box and sheltered, which is okay, but experiences make life rich. It’s nice to take a break from our own lives and see how others enjoy theirs.
19. Volunteer and/or donate
When we do service, we are making our world a better place. It might sound cliché, but it is certainly true. People are in need and there may have been times in our lives when we needed resources that were lacking and can recall how that affected us.
Being generous is being a contributor to making someone else’s life healthier. This can be in the form of giving your time to help someone or something, giving someone or somewhere money or needed items, and remembering that things you might no longer need might be needed by someone else.
Even items or things that you are disposing of, check with a local thrift or second -hand store to see if they need it.
Always remember to give with no expectation of being paid back or to receive anything in return. There are so many opportunities to support and donate, so look for people, places, and things that are of your interest.
20. Tell those you love that you love them
The people you love in your life should know that you feel this way about them. Love is an emotional connection to others and makes us all feel valued and special. Love is not a surface level feeling, rather it is a true appreciation that someone means something in your life in a way that makes you happy and makes you better.
The phrase “I love you”, can be tossed around and sometimes said as a courtesy. However, when you love people in your life which can be family and friends, we want to be around them, we miss them, and we inquire about how they are doing in their own lives.
It’s a high level of caring for others and wanting the best for them. It shouldn’t be used without this purpose because then it devalues its true meaning.
We can all remember the first time we said “I love you” in a relationship and how much that moment meant. We get butterflies saying it to someone for the first time.
In this sense, we can be in love with someone while with family we love them unconditionally.
Sometimes love in a relationship is conditional based on how that relationship turns out to be. We truly can fall in and then out of love with someone, but for the time that we do love them, it’s important to share and recognize this feeling.
We generally say that after the age of 18, no one can tell us what to do. We become adults. As adults, we then determine our lifestyles by the choices that we make every moment of the day.
Those choices mold and shape our character and personality. A healthy lifestyle is what is healthy for us on that personal level. It can be different for everyone, but it entails mental and physical health the same for everyone.
Spiritual health is also an important concept, but sometimes the choices associated with spirituality are controversial and private. It can be a sensitive topic bringing religion into the conversation, although it is such a huge factor of a healthy lifestyle in that many of our actions are based on the principles of that religion or way of thinking as well as who we associate ourselves with because of it.
A healthy lifestyle is your quality of life and instead of counting the years that go by and letting time just pass, let that time be filled with health. Health is what makes our minds and bodies get up out of bed and seize the day.
When we are not healthy, we might not even be able to get up or when we do, misery and disappointment are what we feel. No one wants to get up and go to a job they hate. No one wants to live in pain.
No one wants to feel controlled by someone else. No one wants to feel sad, depressed, anxious. No one wants to feel poorly about their body image. No one wants to feel like they can’t do anything. Your body is your home and you are stuck with this home.