Our body is our temple, right? Well, if you live in today’s day and age it’s probably more likely that your body is your trashcan rather than your temple.
That isn’t to say that we all treat our bodies badly, but it’s just so darn easy to disrespect them that it’s kinda hard not to do the wrong thing every now and then.
Yeah, okay, I know, that sentence sucked (double negative and what not) but you have to concede the point. With commercials showing (and selling) images of chocolate, chemical-laden beauty products and junk food every minute of the day it’s like the culture that we can’t escape from.
Thankfully, we do have an abundance of information, resources and knowledge at our disposal, which means that we can change things. We can take control of our bodies, and our lives.
1. Quit being a night owl
For some reason, everyone seems to think it’s ‘totes amazeballs’ to be a night owl. The idea of caffeine-supported late nights followed by bleary-eyed early mornings is hip. Apparently. But I think it’s the complete opposite.
After all, who wants to feel like crapola cupcakes every morning? Who really wants to snooze their alarm clock five times, run themselves through a cold shower in the hopes of waking up just a little and then still feel like you’re half-asleep?
Not me. And neither does your body.
Which is why you should transition to an early bird and throw your night owl cape away. Your life will be all the better for it.
Hint: If you find yourself lying in bed at 10pm with your eyes wide open and sleep no closer than a pash with one of the Hemsworth brothers, then keep in mind that this transition is a process, not a takeaway menu.
Give it time. And wind yourself down for bed, like you used to do when you were a kid. Dim the lights, take deep, restful breaths and don’t do anything too active.
2. Avoid caffeine after 3pm
The research on caffeine, and in particular coffee, is mixed. And in truth we’ll probably never know the true story of how caffeine interacts with our bodies, but for now it’s safe to say that consuming caffeine close to bed time is a major (salute) no no.
Caffeine has a half-life of five to six hours, which means if you guzzle your last coffee at 4pm, half of it’s still going to be in your system at 10pm. The time when you’re meant to be winding down for bed. Get me? Not so awesome for quality sleep time.
Say no to coffee after 3pm. Easy.
3. Learn to breathe
“What?! But I know how to breathe. D’uh, otherwise I’d be, like, dead.
Erm, nope. Sorry. You see, there’s actually a wrong way to breathe and I’m hedging my bets that you’re doing it that way, rather than the good, cleansing, healthful way.
So, what’s the right way to breathe? Well, it’s not taking shallow breaths through your chest, that’s for sure. Or gulping in air like you are a goldfish.
The right way to breathe (or at least the way that decreases your stress levels and cleanses your body) is to take deep, slow breaths that make your belly rise and fall. Breathe through your nose and make the movement steady, soothing and calming.
I feel better just writing about it!
4. Drink up
We’re made of water. A lot of water. And yet water is the last think people tend to grab when they’re feeling thirsty. Weird, right?
Keep your body (and your brain!) hydrated and drink around eight glasses of water a day. You’ll need more on hot weather days or if you’re exercising, and less on colder days when you’re not doing any exercise.
Don’t let a headache tell you when to drink either because by the time you’re experiencing things like a dry mouth and headaches, you’re already dehydrated.
5. Take a meditation class
I’m not going to tell you to take up meditation and spend an hour a day chanting ‘om’. It’s just not realistic, at least for someone who hasn’t tried meditation before and has no inclination to give it a proper go.
Which is why this tip is just to go to one meditation class. One. It’ll be less than 60-minutes long and a lot of it will be consumed by theory, so your actual meditation will probably be quite short. Manageable, even.
Hint: Don’t expect to sit down and immediately be able to clear your mind. In fact, don’t ever expect that. Meditation isn’t about not thinking, it’s about focus. So don’t give up if your mind doesn’t feel as clear as Jessica Alba’s skin. Keep going. You can only get better if you keep practicing.
6. 10,000 steps
This is probably the hardest tip I’ll give you, and it’s only because of how much time it will take up. Experts recommend that we take at least 10,000 steps a day. With office work, desk jobs and study forcing us to sit for a lot of the day, most people are lucky to get 4,000 steps in on a good day.
Which is why I recommend that you pick up a pedometer and start aiming for 10,000 steps a day. This works out to be around 8kms or 1.5 hours of slow walking.
You don’t have to do it all in one go, you can spread it out and go for a walk before work, during your lunch break and after work, but make it a habit. Your body is designed to move, so move it.
7. Quit adding salt to your meals
Do you know how much salt is added into the food we buy and consume? In short: a lot. And that’s before we heap on sauces and salts on top of it.
So for a few weeks, go salt free. Don’t add any extra salt to your meals. Simples!
8. Think positively
Life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about what you think about what happens to you. If you don’t believe me, consider this scenario:
Family dinner has been moved to an Indian restaurant down the street.
My partner is ecstatic about this change. He loves Indian food and adores anything spicy. Meanwhile, I’m pouting my butt off and dreading the meal because spicy foods really don’t agree with me.
Same situation, two different reactions. Why? Because of our individual preferences and thoughts.
This is a very elongated way of saying: what you think determines how you feel. How you feel determines what your body is doing. What your body is doing determines how you feel. See where I’m going with this? It’s all a cycle. And at the end of it is your health.
Your thoughts can impact your health, so choose them wisely.
9. Surround yourself with nice people
You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. Scary, right? After all, how many of us put up with deadweight friends who are negative, nasty and downright mean simply because it’s a force of habit to be around them? Or because you’ve known them for so long?
But your friends determine your behavior, your feelings and your thoughts. They condition you to act, feel and think a certain way which can either boost your health or sabotage it. Select friends who empower, encourage and support you. Get rid of the ones that don’t. Simple.
Hint: Everyone goes through rough patches. So don’t discount a beloved friend who is going through a bad time even if they’re being negative and mean. Be there for them, support them and help how you can. If they’re normally a wonderful person, stick with them through the hard times.
They’ll love you all the more for it and your relationship will grow as a result. But know when to discard the hangers-on and the people that aren’t doing you any favors. It sounds tough to distinguish between the two, but you’ll know what to do when the time comes. Promise.
10. Embrace nature
And last but not least, the best recommendation I can make is that you get outdoors every day and embrace nature. Humans weren’t designed with the indoors in mind. We were designed to frolic in the ocean, play in the sand and dig our toes into the earth. We were intended to spend time in fresh air, sunshine and nature.
Which is why you need to get back to your roots and embrace an outdoor lifestyle. No, I’m not asking you to go outside without a hat or live in a tent. Just 15 minutes of sunshine and fresh air will make a huge change to how you feel and how healthy your body is.
Hint: Make sure your feet touch ‘earth’ every day. This might be through sand, dirt or grass. Whatever it may be, make sure it happens.
What are your best health tips? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Cover photo: weheartit.com