We can all admit that it's been a challenging year, to say the least. While we have all been living amidst the same pandemic, we have all adapted and handled it in different ways. For some, they were able to keep their motivation, stick to a routine, maintain some sort of physical activity or movement, for many others, binge watching Netflix, and counting cardio as going to get another cup of coffee or snack from the kitchen became the norm. Many people stopped getting up and getting "ready" in the morning, and a year in, some people are still showing up to work, business on top and, well hopefully at least sweat pants on bottom.
In thinking about these things, pulling from my personal and professional life, I questioned what small steps do in fact lead to a healthier you. Here's what I came up with that I felt may be beneficial for others as well.
Drink plenty of water, dehydration can leave a person feeling fatigued, irritable, and lethargic. It seems easy, right? however a lot of people forget to drink their water until they get thirsty, and even then often opt for a juice or soda, which isn't a healthy replacement. Try keeping a water bottle near, and consistently taking sips throughout the day, thus fueling and hydrating your body. Keeping hydrated also helps our bodies function more efficiently and can reduce the chances of mood swings, fatigue, overeating, and other serious health issues. Staying hydrated will help improve brain function, hydrate and preserve youthful skin, boost your metabolism, and improve overall brain functioning.
Eat your meals, and try eating whole foods as often as possible over pre-packaged processed foods. When we eat processed foods, we are often missing out on the essential nutrients. Check the size of your portions, keep it balanced. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that the body needs, in fact they are essential for your organs to function well, on top of helping strengthen the immune system. The fiber content may also help you feel full longer, and stop making so many snack trips to the kitchen. Eat when you are hungry, make healthier snack choices, and try to avoid skipping meals.
Get enough sleep! I can't stress enough the importance of a sleep hygiene routine, perhaps this is why I've written about it so many times. When we sleep, our body is recovering, we grow muscle and even burn fat efficiently when asleep. While we need different amounts of sleep depending on our age, for most of us who are adults, we need 7+ hours nightly, Trying to go to bed and wake up within an hour of the set time is critical for helping our body get into a healthy sleep pattern. Avoid naps when possible, and if you need a mid-day snooze, keep it to 15-25 minutes so you don't throw off your nightly routine and sleep hygiene.
Get moving. Walk more, take the stairs when the option is available, set reminders to get moving on your phone or watch. Just a 30 min walk daily has so many health benefits. Try stretching, yoga, take a virtual or in-person workout class, perhaps you like a faster pace workout such as STRONG, HITT, POUND, or boxing, whatever you do, add movement into your daily routine. Physical activity enhances both our physical and mental health.
Practice mindfulness and meditation. There are so many different ways to do this, try a few, find what works for you. Perhaps its a nature walk noticing the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations in your body. A guided medication from an app or YouTube. Practice grounding techniques and body scans. Perhaps you are able to sit with yourself in silence, or with white noise in the background. Meditation helps us find a sense of calm, become clearer, at centered. This one is again beneficial for your overall wellbeing.
No matter where you are, no matter how you are coping with the pandemic life, find the motivation to make small changes daily, they will eventually bring big results in your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.