When it comes to creating a healthier lifestyle, we like to think big. Strict diets, half marathons, losing 50 pounds in 2 weeks and all that. However:
Sustainable improvement is best achieved through small adjustments to your existing lifestyle, not through torturing yourself with the major changes which often come as a shock to your body.
As Aristotle once famously said, we are what we repeatedly do. Squeezing a few tiny healthy habits into your daily schedule will not transform your body overnight… but it will bring long-term health benefits at almost no cost.
So last week we reached out to 7 of our favorite health and wellness bloggers and asked: “For an average person, what is ONE small habit to implement that would make a big difference?”
Here is what they said.
Leah Goldglantz, healthy eating blogger, Leah’s Plate:
Every morning upon waking up stretch for just 10 minutes. I feel lighter, more energized and better overall ever since implementing this in my daily routine. It’s a small change that’ll make a big difference!
Sheela Pai, fitness, health, and wellness blogger, A Healthy Slice of Pai:
One daily habit I recently implemented is taking one or two breaks a day to just breathe slowly and deeply from the belly for about 10 seconds. It sounds like not much, but it can make a significant difference in your mood and focus. A while back I learned from an interview of a functional medicine doctor that deep breaths like that can stimulate the vagus nerve, activating the body’s relaxation response, reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
When I start worrying about projects or deadlines and find myself getting wrapped up in the details, I take a step back, breathe deeply (and, if possible, take a short walk) and return to the task at hand feeling refreshed and ready to continue tackling it. In this day and age where we spend so much time at desks staring at our computers and phones, constantly receiving all sorts of messages, news, and images, this a very helpful hack for ensuring that you don’t get lost in the steady stream of information and stay concentrated on your plans and goals.
Yvonne Wake, wellbeing and lifestyle consultant, Wellbeing & Lifestyle:
Daily must do! Which is easy to carry out, and which would make a huge difference, is to make sure we stay HYDRATED.
It is so very important to drink at least 2 litres of water a day, as well as consuming hydrating foods like fresh vegetables and fruit. Our bodies lose water so easily, through sweat, urine, and through our breath, so staying hydrated is crucial if we want to prevent constipation and premature aging. Constipation is not only uncomfortable, but if left unchecked for a long time could lead to multiple bowel conditions. Water in the large intestine is necessary for a good daily evacuation. Plus, a major cause of premature aging (visible in the face) and skin sensitivity occurs when our bodies organs shut down through lack of water. Tap water is absolutely fine mostly, and keeping a glass by the kitchen sink ready for a top up is a good way of reminding us to drink up!
Danielle Clark, food and healthy living blogger, Danielle’s Kitchen:
For me, I think waking up 30 minutes earlier to make a hearty breakfast is key. Breakfast jump starts my day, and I find I have so much more energy when I eat a meal I enjoy and that fills me up as well. Some of my favorites are oatmeal, toast, scrambles, stuffed sweet potatoes, and French toast!
Sarah Phillipe, functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, Vibrant Health & Wellness:
Starting off your day with a heart of gratitude can change your entire perspective by increasing happiness and lowering emotional stress, improving emotional resiliency, combating stress and anxiety, improving sleep, and triggering the release of antidepressant chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin. Not only that, but gratitude improves physical health by lowering pain, inflammation, and blood sugar; improving immune function, blood pressure, and heart health. Lastly, the mental/emotional aspects of health are far-reaching and can often times be a huge blocking factor to reducing symptoms and restoring health. Your lifestyle habits will not outweigh your mindset.
So, how do you start your day? Before your feet hit the floor each morning, take a few minutes to think about all the reasons you are grateful in your life. Maybe even make a list and post it on your bathroom mirror so you are reminded each day: you can move your body; your eyes can see and enjoy all the beautiful colors in nature; you have the ability to help others in their time of need. Be grateful for sticky floors and a lack of silence; for family who helps; for the light streaming through your window; for the wind in your hair; for clean laundry, dancing in the rain, and friends who listen; for the struggle and grief in life; for the scars that are subtle reminders of your perseverance. Be grateful for these things because they mean there is life within you!
Lisa Virgil, certified personal trainer and weight loss specialist, Vitalize Health & Fitness:
One excellent daily habit to improve overall health is to stretch. Stretching is often overlooked as either unnecessary or a waste of time by many people, but it is actually a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating a few minutes of stretching at the beginning and/or end of your day has many health benefits:
- Alleviate low back pain.
- Relieve knee pain.
- Reduce headaches.
- Improve posture.
- Reduce symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
- Improve joint range of motion.
- Reduce stress.
- Improve sleep.
- Increase flexibility.
- Reduce risk of injury.
- Correct muscle imbalances.
There are two types of stretching, static and dynamic. Static stretching is holding a stretch without moving i.e. calf stretch against the wall. Static stretches need to be held for 30 seconds for maximum benefit. Dynamic stretching is stretching while moving through the full range of motion i.e. touching your toes and should be done 10-15 times. Utilizing both types of stretching will increase the health benefits. Happy stretching!
Marla Gates, organic & green living specialist, Organic 4 Greenlivings:
I believe that no specific diet is right for everyone except but one rule I believe strongly in is that we should eat healthy and clean. We are all individuals and we need to find the right fit for our bodies just like we find shoes that fit and help us walk through the day in comfort and health. A healthy and clean diet to me is one that includes foods of kinds and varieties that are agreeable to our bodies. Eating organic and local harvest foods without chemicals is of the utmost importance and making sure that we stay away from processed foods, sugar and toxic chemicals.
Our bodies are our temples and should be treated with love and care. We only have one body so we need to take care of it so that we can fulfill our duties to God, and our purpose on this Earth. Making the right choices can help ensure us a healthier, happier and longer life. God has given us many foods to choose from and it is up to us to make the best choices possible. If we make the right choices we will reap the benefits every day. It is simple as — “Eat clean and live clean!”
We hope you enjoyed these easy, yet powerful ideas and found something to try and stick with. Lifestyle changes don’t need to be huge to make the difference in your long-term health — they just need to be consistent. Start with making a few simple adjustments to your day, wait out to see the benefits, and after a while, you’ll find it a lot easier to incorporate even more healthy habits into your daily life.
Here’s to your healthier, happier self!