There’s no shortage of ways to live an unhealthy life – whether that’s eating cheeseburgers and fries every day or never getting off the couch unless you have to. With all of the bad habits some of us develop, it’s never a bad time to consider a new approach to how we live our lives.
Here are some tips for living a healthy life that can help improve your health and happiness!
#1 – Take a walk in nature
One way to live a healthier life is to immerse yourself in nature and go for a stroll. Research has shown that this simple act of immersing yourself in a natural environment and getting away from all the various forms of pollution that dampen many of our lives can increase brain cognition, improve our mood, boost our creativity, and increase our empathy.
That’s a lot of benefits for something so simple, which is why regardless of whether you live in a busy city you should still make the effort to find somewhere to take a peaceful stroll through nature and do it regularly. If you happen to live by the beach like many Australians do, a stroll along the shore could be the perfect place to take a stroll and enjoy the beauty and serenity that nature offers.
Interestingly, there’s a term for all this. In Japan, it’s called shinrin-yoku, which means forest bathing, and it’s defined as coming in contact with the forest and assimilating its atmosphere. Furthermore, as highlighted by OzBarefoot, choosing the right footwear is crucial for maximising the benefits of your nature walks. Wearing barefoot shoes can offer unique health advantages, aligning your body more naturally with the environment and improving your foot health.
No matter where you live, you should be able to find a natural space to connect with nature and find your centre. Simply being there is enough if walking is too much for you.
#2 – Enjoy a healthy snack
It’s easy for some of us to forget how delicious a tasty piece of fruit like mango or banana can be, especially when we’re constantly bombarded with advertisements for fast food and the like. One bite into a fresh slice of pineapple is all it should take to remind you of just how delicious fruit can be. Rather than unwrap a Cadbury Dairy Milk or tear open a bag of M&Ms, consider diving into some fresh fruit instead. Given how easy it is to eat most fruits and how little preparation they require, you can hardly give yourself a proper excuse to choose something else.
Generally, you want to stick to reduced-fat products when consuming milk, yoghurt, and cheese. For your protein, you want to stick to lean meats and poultry if that’s where you choose to get the bulk of your protein. Other options include fish, eggs, tofu, seeds, legumes, and nuts. You can learn more about healthy food options on the Australian Government’s Eat For Health website.
#3 – Quit smoking
When you quit smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop within minutes. Later, your carbon monoxide level drops back down to normal, your circulation improves, your lung function increases, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease. As your cilia regain their function, your heart attack risk drops, your risk of certain smoking-related cancers like lung and mouth decreases, and your risk of coronary heart disease drops back down to a level similar to that of a non-smoker.
That’s a lot of reasons to quit smoking and that’s before you factor in how much money it will save you! Even if you only switch to vaping you could still be looking at saving thousands of dollars a year, and that’s not even taking into account the costs of healthcare. Needless to say, quitting smoking is hugely beneficial and it’s something that every smoker should strive for.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 13 per cent of all deaths in Australia each year are attributed to smoking. That’s nearly 20,500 Australians dying each year from smoking. For the smokers out there, quitting smoking might be the single most healthy change you can make in your life.
#4 – Spend less time staring at screens
Take a break from the digital world by putting down your smartphone, shutting off your television, or closing your laptop. In our fast-paced modern lives of excessive connectivity, this can be easier said than done. But there’s a good reason to spend less of your time staring at screens and that reason is your health. Staring at a screen too long can strain your eyes, which, if you didn’t already assume, is a bad thing.
Dr Matthew Gardiner, a Harvard-affiliated ophthalmologist who has studied the effects of staring at screens too long, says that we become so involved with what’s on our screens that we literally forget to blink. “The blink rate goes from 15 times a minute to five or seven times per minute” and this causes our eyes to dry out, which can lead to discomfort and blurred vision. Dr Gardiner explained.
Dry, strained eyes aren’t the only problem either. Sitting for too long has its own problems and as many of us are sitting when we’re watching television or scrolling on our phones, we also need to be wary of how long we sit.
As the smartphone is the real culprit for many of us when it comes to spending too much time staring at a screen, one solution for reducing screen time is to use a screen limit. With Apple devices, a tool called Screen Time allows you to set a time limit for the apps that waste the most of your time, like Facebook and Twitter. Once you’ve set a limit, you’ll see a screen when you’ve used up all of your allotted screen time and you can either extend your screen time by an extra 15 minutes or ignore the warning entirely.
If this doesn’t persuade you to reduce your screen time then there are other options still, like time-locking “phone jails” that store your phone for a predetermined amount of time so that you physically cannot access them until the timer goes off.
#5 – Take a bath
A relaxing soak in the tub can do you some serious good. According to Dr Amy Zack, MD, a family medicine provider with South Pointe Hospital, you only need to soak for 10 to 15 minutes once a week to make a difference in your overall health. Taking a bath once a week offers the following health benefits:
- Cleans and exfoliates your skin
- Improves your mental and emotional health
- Helps you sleep better and fall asleep quicker
- Soothes your aching joints and muscles
- Helps heal your wounds (well, some wounds)
Some tips for taking a proper bath include not bathing more than twice a week, using warm water that isn’t too hot (under 40C), using fragrance-free soaps and body washes with either “gentle” or “sensitive” skin on the label, always using a fresh towel, moisturising after, and keeping your tub clean by cleaning it regularly, especially before bathing.