6 Keys to Making Healthier Choices, Big and Small
We all know a few lifestyle choices that we’re making could—and should—be healthier. Most of these choices are probably small, such as choosing vegetables instead of fries with dinner. Others, however, can be harder and more time-consuming. With everything you have crammed into your day, how can you make room for healthy choices?
First, it’s important to remember to start small. Making minor lifestyle changes will be easier and help you develop the discipline to make more major ones.
Some such health strategies you can try out right now include:
● Meal Prep: It’s easy to swing through the drive-thru when you are pressed for time and can’t spend an hour cooking. If you can devote one afternoon or evening to cooking for the week, then a meal prep routine can keep you eating healthy meals even on the go.
● Clean Air: Sometimes we don’t get the breath of fresh air we want or need. If you suffer from chronic allergies, sinus infections, asthma, or a cough, then purchasing an air purifier can remove the majority of the pollutants causing you distress.
● Meditate: Even just 10 minutes of meditation a day can have a powerful impact on stress, anxiety, motivation, and self-esteem. Carving out time in the morning is ideal, so that you can tap into those benefits all day. Try to sit in silence, use a guided meditation app, or start a walking meditation practice.
There are so many other simple ways to sneak in whole-body health strategies, such as taking the stairs, using a standing desk, practicing self-care, and challenging yourself to learn or explore something new. These simple life changes really can add up to big improvements. However, there are some habits that are harder to address. Making more substantial changes can be challenging for some people, especially in the beginning.
These situations might include:
● Weight Loss: For people who are overweight or obese, making choices that burn fat and build muscle take time. If you latch on to a quick fix—fad diets, pills, or surgeries—then you aren’t addressing the root problem, nor are you really making yourself any healthier. Find balance by aligning your diet with the newly updated food pyramid. And follow the CDC’s recommendations for exercise: 150 hours of moderate activity and two days of strength training per week.
● Addiction Recovery: Few things in life are as challenging as overcoming addiction. Exploring new hobbies is one of the most effective strategies for staying the course on the road to recovery. In addition to developing and maintaining a healthy diet, exercise is a great hobby for people in recovery, as it has both a physiological benefit, as well as mental health rewards. Staying active not only improves mood, boosts energy, and prevents disease, but it also protects the brain against the damage caused by long-term drug and alcohol abuse.
● Codependency: People dealing with codependency issues have a tendency to care so much for the well-being of others that they neglect their own health. You have to be able to strike a balance between your dedication to other people and to yourself. This is hard because, in many ways, codependency is also a form of addiction. One of the most effective—and arguably most difficult—health strategies here is to practice saying no. When you agree to serve others as a sacrifice to your own well-being, you are really serving no one. Instead of saying yes, try saying, “Not right now.” Or, you can connect the requestor with someone who has the skills or capacity to help. Most importantly, set healthy boundaries and stick to them. You may even need to write them down so that they feel more solid and you feel more secure.
All too often, we try to make big changes happen overnight, and they rarely stick. Thinking small doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress; in fact, it means quite the opposite. Be honest and open with yourself about what you need to be healthy and happy, and take baby steps toward it.
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