Tips to develop healthy habits

Looking for a way to change your life for the better? It starts by building a healthy lifestyle that takes you through day after day.

But when people say “healthy lifestyle,” what does that really look like?

» Wake up about the same time every day. All of our basic functions thrive on predictability.

» Drink a large glass of water first thing upon waking. In order to feel, function and look our best, we need to be hydrated. Drink 1 ounce of fluid for every two pounds of body weight. Two-thirds of fluids should be water. For best results, spread your fluid consumption out during the course of your day. Drink even more when you sweat.

» Take an invigorating shower. There is evidence that cold showers are good for us.

» Listen to music that gets you going. Music can have a profound effect on mood and energy levels.

» Don’t skip breakfast. Carbohydrates and coffee aren’t enough to keep you at optimum function. Eat protein with breakfast. Don’t fall into the simple carbohydrates breakfast trap. Bad news: Muffins are cake. Protein and some healthy fat will have more staying power than pancakes and syrup.

» Don’t check your email first thing in the morning — maybe even limit your news consumption. No need to stress yourself out before your feet hit the floor or you hit the door.

» Don’t sit all day. Sitting shortens the muscles that help us stand comfortably and contributes to back and neck pain.

» Create an active work environment. Physical activity primes the human brain for optimal function. Use a standing desk or walk during meetings. Set a reminder to get up and walk for five minutes every 30-60 minutes.

» Don’t skip the veggies at lunch. Now is the time we need all those vitamins and minerals.

» Don’t drink caffeine after 2 p.m. Doing so can interfere with the quantity and quality of your sleep.

» Eat as many veggies as possible and include them with dinner. Fun fact: Because it is nutritionally dense, it is nearly impossible to overeat broccoli.

» Try to go to bed at the same time each night.

» Times that end in “a.m.” are not acceptable as a bedtime unless you work a swing shift. It is not a punishment to get a good night’s sleep.

» Work your soft tissue with things like self-massage, foam rolling or stretching. The deep pressure of massage and foam rolling are calming to the nervous system. Trade time with someone you love. Skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin which helps induce sleep.

» Practice deep breathing, allowing your abdomen to expand as you inhale. This sends a relaxing signal to your body that everything is — or will be — OK.

» Reflect on your day and write down five things for which you are grateful. There is a direct link between gratitude practices and quality of life.

» Don’t allow light pollution. Our bodies need dark to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps us unwind. Even overhead room lighting can be disruptive to its production. Use an eye mask to help block out street and/or hallway lighting.

» Screens and noise from televisions, laptops, tablets or phones are especially disruptive.

» Don’t use technology 15 minutes before bed or keep it in your room. A bedroom is no place for Candy Crush.

» Keep your room cool, around 65 to 67 degrees. When you’re trying to sleep, your body temperature decreases. Keeping a colder room helps facilitate this process.

» Keep a notebook by your bed for jotting down those racing thoughts. (Keep it brief.) Getting it “out of your head” and onto paper is often just the thing to calm your thoughts.

Taking a few small steps every day can help increase your quality of life.



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