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Healthy Habits for a Healthier Life
Healthy habits are learned, not ingrained. Healthy people do things differently than people on the road to an early death – not just every once in a while, but every day. There is no one magic secret to a healthy life. But there are some basic things that healthy people tend to do to maintain their well-being. And anyone can cultivate a healthy lifestyle if they are willing to commit to long-term shifts in how they live.
Make It Yourself
Healthy people know that most packaged food is not really supportive to health. If they do buy something in a box or bag, they read the labels to be sure there is nothing artificial, genetically modified, or otherwise toxic in it. They avoid processed sugars and flours, yeast, food coloring, and anything with more than four syllables.
But most healthy people prepare as many of their own meals as possible. They eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit, seeds and nuts, legumes, and whole grains. They know their way around a kitchen, and how to prepare food that both nourishes their bodies and tastes delicious. Healthy people also tend to get plenty of the nutrients that are essential for thriving – vitamins, minerals, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and anti-oxidants.
Exercise Is Non-Negotiable
Exercise is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle, but only a small percentage of adults in affluent nations get enough exercise. Exercise keeps our metabolisms working well, helps us maintain a healthy weight, and supports brain function. But it can seem hard to squeeze it in if you think of it as something outside of your regular habits.
Healthy people understand that in order to get the exercise their bodies need, they have to include it as part of their daily routine – just like eating or working. Schedule your days so that you exercise for at least 30 minutes, 6 days a week. Sometimes the best strategy is to replace some sedentary habit, like watching television or unproductive social media, with some form of exercise.
Healthy people understand that gratitude is essential for a happy and healthy body and mind. Gratitude boosts self-worth, alleviates stress and depression, and improves quality of life.
Healthy people make it a point to express gratitude to everyone who helps them, their loved ones, and through practices like prayer or keeping a gratitude journal.
Build Strong Social Bonds
Healthy people understand that positive connections with family and friends are essential. People with a strong social fabric, who have at least five close friends and feel like they are part of a community, tend to live longer and remain healthier into old age.
Learn How to Release Stress
It is not that healthy people never experience stress, but they know how to keep a momentary stressful situation from putting them into a chronically stressed state. They have tools to deal with stress when it arises, rather than letting it build up. They might practice Yoga, hike, meditate, go to the theater, play air hockey, listen to music, or throw stones into a pond – something that makes them feel more at peace.
They also know how to structure their lives to reduce stress. This could be keeping an organized to-do list, remembering to back-up data, or taking the time to make a lunch and set out the days clothes before going to bed at night to avoid having to rush through tasks in the morning. The key is to set yourself up for success, and know how to release stress if it arises.
Care for Yourself First
Healthy people understand that in order to be their best, they have to take care of themselves. When we are exhausted, overworked, or malnourished, our health suffers. This also affects productivity and happiness.
Healthy people make sure they get plenty of quality rest each night (7-8 hours) eat nutritious food, drink lots of water, and exercise – not because they feel forced to, but because they know these behaviors will keep them feeling good.
Live a Life of Meaning
Healthy people understand how important it is to feel like they are contributing to the world. They experience fulfillment, because they are living authentically and purposefully.
Focus On the Positive
Our experience of life is greatly affected by our attitude. Our perception of a situation can turn a challenge into an opportunity or a gift into a burden, depending on what we choose to see.
This doesn’t mean idealism, healthy people know that an accurate view of reality is essential for productivity and well-being. But they strive to see the blessing in each moment, and the gift in each experience. They look for solutions to problems rather than feeling victimized, and know that hard times will always pass.
Becoming healthy does not happen overnight. Like any sustainable change, it requires patience and dedication. But these tips from the perspective of healthy people can help you take steps towards your own healthy future.
This post is contributed by Ron McDiarmid, who is the founder of My Healthy Living Coach. Having had health challenges along the way Ron was keen to share the research and learning he gathered. Through MHLC this continued into a current presentation of healthy lifestyle choices and how to implement them. Check out his website at www.myhealthylivingcoach.com.