You’re busy. Life seems to go by at the speed of light some days. Work, school, family, friends and countless other priorities tend to take precedence over your most valuable asset - your health. The fact is, unless you’re healthy, you may not be able to participate in your life. These 10 quick and simple health hacks can lead to long-term health and wellbeing. You may start seeing benefits within weeks!
Carry a water bottle
Here is your holy grail: The best way to increase overall health is to drink water. Water keeps you alive. It’s the single most important thing you put in your body. It’s that simple. Yet somehow, most of us are walking around in a constant state of dehydration.
If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re dehydrated. Your body sends out hormonal signals, which makes you feel thirsty, in order to return to homeostasis. Studies have shown that drinking water can reduce colon and bladder cancer, increase energy, give skin a healthier appearance and reduce headaches. A good rule of thumb, for optimal hydration, is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water daily.
Write a gratuity list
This is a quick and simple mental health overhaul. Take two (really, it can take less than two) minutes to write down five things you are grateful for each day—a good cup of coffee, a smile, the fact that your boss is on vacation, your significant other. Having a sense of gratitude can help deter anxiety and depression. It can also help you turn a bad day around. It’s important to have a sense of perspective on some days, and this small practice can be profoundly beneficial for your mental health.
Cook enough for leftovers
There is a good chance that what you cook at home is healthier than take out or fast food. Since you’re already cooking and dirtying up the pots and pans, why not add in a couple of extra servings? More home cooked meals means less eating out. There is a strong correlation between fast food and obesity. Fast food and restaurant food tends to be higher in calories and lower in vitamins and minerals. Do your heart, digestive system and waistline a favor and eat more home cooking.
Reduce your alcohol intake
If a hangover is in the cards for you every week, cutting back on your libations could drastically improve your health. Swapping out a couple (or a few) drinks for a water will reduce your risk of multiple types of cancers, ward off weight gain and keep your liver functioning at a healthy level. There is a good chance that your mental health will benefit as well. Without the dreaded hangover, you can wake up refreshed and ready to catch the morning surf!
Pop a multivitamin
If you’re not always eating a well-balanced diet, there is a chance that you’re deficient in a nutrient or two. Throwing a multivitamin into your morning routine can give your body the support it needs. A lack in B vitamins can lead to depression and reduction in energy. A deficiency in calcium can lead to lethargy, “brain fog,” and poor bone health. Vitamin C strengthens your immune system and can result in less sick days. It’s amazing what a simple multivitamin can do for overall health.
Hit the hay around the same time each night
Good sleep is critical for good health. A healthy sleep routine is a fantastic way to increase mental acuity, daily performance and mental health. Going to bed around the same time each night helps develop a rhythm—your brain will start to secrete melatonin around the same time each night. As a result, you’ll develop a natural waking pattern as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up feeling refreshed each morning?
Sneak in extra activity throughout your day
Taking the stairs, parking at the far end of the lot, or walking a lap around your office building are great ways to increase your physical activity. These small changes may seem insignificant, but they add up over time. You ward off weight gain, perhaps start up weight loss, and increase your cardiovascular health. If you walk up one flight of stairs each day for one year, that’s 365 flights of stairs! Your quads and glutes will be thanking you.
Keep a snack around
Take a banana or granola bar out the door with you each day. Keep some jerky or almonds in your desk or glove compartment. Always have a healthy snack available. This will drastically reduce the drive-thru excursions and poor food choices at the convenience store. Having a vitamin-packed option for when hunger strikes will reduce the amount of Snickers bars you consume. Your sugar levels won’t spike and leave you in crash and burn mode hours later. Your waistline will thank you next year.
Develop a morning routine
Do you rush out the door at the last minute? Skip breakfast because you don’t have time? Hit snooze until the very last minute? If so, you’re setting yourself up for a rough day and potentially for long-term health consequences. Your body secretes cortisol during stressful times. Waking up and immediately releasing extra cortisol can leave you physically and mentally fatigued for the rest of the day. Doing this daily may lead to thyroid dysfunction, a decreased immune response, weight gain and high blood pressure.
Luckily there are some tricks to stop this. Prep for your day the night before—set out your clothes, pack your lunch, and shower. In the morning, stop hitting snooze. Those 10 extra minutes of sleep may seem like momentary bliss, but you end up paying for them. Put your alarm across the room, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Write yourself a motivating note to start your day. Avoiding an a.m. cortisol dump can give you drastic, immediate and long-term health benefits.
Turn off your screens before bed
Your cell phone, tablet, and computer are not your nighttime friends. The light that these devices emit reduces your melatonin production. Melatonin is the chemical that signals your body that it’s time to sleep. Multiple studies have shown that people stay up later and have a harder time falling asleep after looking at these devices. Sleep cycles are disrupted, leading to feeling groggier the next day. Turn off your devices one hour before bed for regular melatonin production. If you must look at these devices before bed, there are apps that will filter the melatonin-disrupting light.
Reclaiming your health doesn’t have to be a huge overhaul. Small changes in your daily life can lead to substantial changes in your immediate and long-term health. It can take weeks of repetition to reap the benefits of a new health habit, so be patient!
What health hacks have you done? We’d love to know! Please comment below to let us know what you’re doing and how you’re benefitting.