Being healthy and happy are great goals but we often don't know how to get there. We focus on cutting things out of our life, such as specific foods or people. When that doesn't work, we give up on the goal. I have a foolproof formula that will help you be healthy and happy. There are 4 easy activities that can easily fit into your routine.
Before we get to the 4 activities, we need to think about how to change our routine. It takes 21 days to create a new habit. Don't expect a major change in your life after one week. That type of thinking leads to disappointment and frustration. Then, we stop working towards making effective change because we feel bad. True change takes time. It takes practice. It takes commitment. It takes compassion for ourselves. It takes planning.
To start working on the 4 activities, don't try to do all of them at once. Be selective. Find the one activity that is the easiest to put into your routine. To successfully put the new activity in your routine, schedule it. This is the easiest way to make a commitment to yourself. When I see something scheduled in my calendar that is for me, I do it! It feels so good to do something for myself. We are so busy doing things for others - kids, house, spouses, work - we deserve to do something for ourselves. Schedule it and do it!
Meditating is one of the easiest activities to add to your routine. You can do it anywhere. Most people think that you have to sit cross-legged, on the floor, in a room with incense burning. It is just not true! You can be sitting in a comfortable chair, you can be lying down in your bed or you can be lying down on the floor. The point is that wherever you are the most comfortable, that is the place to do meditation.
Meditation is known to help calm the mind and the body. So you get a lot of health benefits from meditation. There are 20 validated studies that shows meditation can:
Increase immune function
Decrease inflammation at a cellular level
Increases positive emotions
Decreases depression, anxiety and stress
Make you feel more compassion
Increases focus, memory and the ability to be creative
(Source: Psychology Today)
How to start? Remember my earlier advice, start off slow. Schedule 5 minutes to start. I prefer to meditate in the morning. It really sets the tone for my day. But schedule meditation whatever time works for you. You may need to do it on your lunch hour or you may need to do it after dinner. Just meditating 5 minutes a day helps you be healthier and happier.
Once you set the time, the next part is to breathe in a very specific way. You want to inhale through the nose but let your stomach expand. When you exhale, let the breathe come out of the nose and let the stomach deflate. You don't have to worry how many breathes you do or how deep your inhale is or how long your exhale is. That is for a more advanced practice, when you are ready to take meditation to another level. In the beginning just sitting still and breathing means you are successfully meditating.
If you need help meditating, there are plenty of free meditations online. Just type in free meditation in a Google search and pick one!
#2 MOVE YOUR BODY
We were never meant to sit for hours and hours and hours. Our bodies want to move and be active. Being active does not mean you have to take up a really hard exercise class. Go for a 30 minute walk. Walking is the most overlooked form of exercise. The best part is almost anyone can do it! You don't have to do it fast (unless you want to) and you don't have to make it difficult.
Benefits of walking include:
Increases cardiovascular fitness
Reduces joint stiffness
#3 EAT MOSTLY PLANTS
Reducing how much meat we eat is a must to be healthier. Vegetables and fruits have all of the nutrients we need and a lot of the bad things we don't need. Vegetables and fruits have protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. I know most of us think that we need to eat meat to get protein. It just isn't true. Below is a list of vegetables with their protein content.
A few ideas on how to slowly implement this step:
Try a meatless Monday. Breakfast ideas are overnight oatmeal, a smoothie or mixed fruit salad. Lunch can be a pasta salad, leafy green salad or quinoa with sauteed vegetables. Dinner may be a portobella mushroom burger with side salad, zucchini potato fritters with corn and broccoli or a double stuffed baked potato with broccoli and a side salad. Once you start adding more fruits and vegetables into your routine, you'll notice the huge variety and more options available to eat.
Make breakfast and lunch meat-free meals.
Try a vegetarian meal-delivery service, such as Green Chef.
The old saying is right, if we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of others. Self-care can be anything that brings you joy. My self-care is being able to do yoga. I wish I had time to do yoga everyday. But right now, my schedule does not allow for it. So I try to go on Saturday. The real bonus is when my schedule allows me to take two classes a week. My friends always make fun of me that yoga is my self-care but it makes me calm, allows me to focus on one thing for an hour and helps me relieve stress.
Your self-care can be something like yoga, or maybe it is simply getting a manicure or pedicure. Maybe going to the beach or going for a hike in the woods. Maybe it is a bike ride. Maybe it is cooking or baking or going to pottery class. What ever self-care means for you, carve out some time weekly or monthly to make sure you have time to yourself. It will re-energize you and make it easier to take care of others.
As you start to work on implementing the 4 activities into your routine, remember to go slowly, schedule them into your week and if you wind up not following your schedule, don't be too hard on yourself. Just go back to the routine when you can. Life happens. We can't be perfect 100% of the time. Do your best and you will lead a happier and healthier life.
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