When it comes to health advice, many people have very different opinions. Sometimes you’ll hear people say eat keto and lift weights, while other times people will say you should do cardio and count calories. With the litany of different suggestions, it can be difficult to find a routine that works for you.
Many people want to improve their health and aren’t sure which areas are most important: should sleep and diet be the main focus, or should exercise be? 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 the arrival of spring, sunlight helps) and relationships. Here’s how he can make small improvements in each of these areas.
How to improve your sleep
Improving sleep may seem like an impossible task. After you get home from school or work, time can fly by. There are a couple of things you can do to help you sleep better. First, get rid of the blue light before sleeping. As tempting as it may be to surf social media or text your friends right before bed, staring at blue light can negatively affect your sleep. According to the Cleveland Clinic, scrolling on your phone can also keep your brain active, which will make it harder to fall asleep.
Try turning off your electronics a couple of hours before bed and doing other activities, like reading a book or meditating before bed, which can help you wind down. Be sure to set your alarm before you put 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 go to sleep, the effects of it have worn off. Improving sleep is all about making small changes that will benefit you in the long run. A good night’s sleep is important for hormone regulation and overall health, and can help you make good decisions in the long run.
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 French fries with lunch, consider swapping them for carrots and celery. If you’re cooking a pasta dish, consider swapping the white flour pasta for a chickpea or red lentil pasta. If you love fried chicken, try making a baked version.
Some of these changes can be helpful in making positive and progressive changes toward health. Also consider what you can add to the foods you love. Let’s say you really like mashed potatoes: consider making half potato, then half cauliflower. Or think of a pasta dish you like, like baked ziti. Think about how you can add broccoli and spinach to it. If your diet needs any improvement, chances are if you immediately switch to salads all the time, you won’t be making sustainable changes.
There are other small changes you can make. Healthline suggests that you pay attention to your protein intake and stay hydrated throughout the day. Another tip is to stay away from diet foods. Think about 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 exercising again. Real Simple suggests that when trying to get back into the rhythm of exercise, start small. Instead of trying to immediately get back to where you were when you exercised the most, get back into the habit of doing some movement every day.
The best exercise you can do is the one that you will do consistently and that you like. Experiment with fitness classes or going to the gym or exercising at home or outdoors. Finding a routine that you like can help you start exercising.
Another way to start exercising is to create responsibility 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
Stress management can be a tricky thing to do. According to the Stanford Lifestyle Medicine Program, stress can be managed by identifying the cause of the stress and then responding accordingly. Sunlight can also be an important part of stress management.
According to The Wellesley News, sunlight can make us feel less stressed. There is something in the sun that helps 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 every day can help your health.
When you’re working 9 to 5, it can be hard to find time to get out. Consider taking your lunch break outside. This is a good time to take a short, brisk walk as well, which can help you get moving a bit. 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 happy with your relationships, you may 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 you improve your relationships. When you are with someone you love, take the time to listen to them, really listen to them, and think about what they are saying. Make sure the people in your life know you value them. Having strong relationships can improve your mood and overall health.