To be completely honest with you, I'm no health professional but I've had my load of health psychology courses, listened to lots of podcasts on health promotion, and learned a couple of lessons throughout my life. I have three words for you: sleep, diet, and exercise. Now let me explain.
Sleep deprivation has more adverse effects on our health than smoking. Let that sink in.
Everybody has so much to do during the day, including me, that we put off sleep until we’re too tired to keep our eyes open. I feel like everybody knows that the healthy amount of sleep per night is 7 to 8 hours but not many people are actually getting the prescribed minimum of 7 hours. This results in chronic sleep deprivation.
Not getting enough sleep negatively affects our mood, emotion regulation, motivation, determination, concentration, memory, and cognitive functions, such as reading or using working memory. The worst thing is that sleep-deprived individuals don’t realize that their cognitive functions and sharpness of motions and thinking are affected.
So even if you think that you can function normally with 6 or even fewer hours of sleep, that’s not true. And you should do something about improving your sleep patterns.
You can read more about sleep here.
Everything that we eat can have either a positive or a negative effect on our health. As most dieticians and nutritionists say, everything should be consumed in moderation. Carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (beware of lipids, though).
What I want to add is, limit the amount of sugars. I have a sweet tooth and my babe often makes fun of me for craving chocolate. I am a big fan of chocolate bars.
However, what I’m talking about is sugary drinks. Try to lower your intake of juices and soft drinks as much as possible. They contain loads of sugar and we don’t even eat it, we drink it! Try by diluting your juices with water or sparkling water gradually until you get in the habit of only drinking water.
Get rid of Coke and other soda cans and bottles in the cupboard. If they’re there, you’re going to drink it, you know it. Switch to water and unsweetened tea to let your body feel better and healthier.
Another trick is to not try to have a sugarless diet because if you restrict yourself to zero sugar intake (which is probably nevertheless impossible, since sugar is present in every food), this will make you crave for sugar as never before. It could even result in binge-eating episodes in which you’ll eat six chocolate bars and lots of candy.
Therefore, try to maintain a healthy relationship with sugar by trying to lower the intake of sugar but not eliminating it completely. Everything is good in moderation.
A good thing to remember about your diet is that changes to your diet shouldn't be extreme.
If you wake up one day and decide you're never eating carbs again, it's very likely that after some days or weeks of controlling your carbs, you will give in. That's why people on extreme diets lose so much weight but then, soon enough, gain it all back. It's impossible to stick to vigorous diets forever.
Instead of restriction, try to change your habits step by step. The changes should be small but consistent so the diet is sustainable.
I know that in today’s world everybody has a stressful job, lots of homework, projects, and chores but take time to do some exercise.
Endorphins are chemicals in our brain that are released during exercise and ease our pain, relieve our stress, and overall make us feel better. Other neurotransmitters released during physical activity are dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin and they all play an important role in mood regulation. Regular exercise has a positive effect on your serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain, which can boost your mood and improve your overall sense of well-being.
Find a type of exercise that fits you. It can be running, swimming, dancing, walking, climbing, playing group sports or anything else that you can imagine.
Exercise can also be a great way to connect with people. Find a friend to go for a run with every day. You will keep each other fit and motivated.
I know not everybody can afford the expensive fitness passes, pay monthly for sports practices or a personal coach but there are so many other possibilities to stay fit and healthy.
Take a walk around the neighborhood. Turn on YouTube and watch some fitness videos, there are professional workout people that will guide you through your workout. You can find many great videos for which you need no equipment. If you want you can buy some resistance bands and weights or a yoga mat for little money. One of the great YouTube channels that always keeps me working is PopSugar Fitness. They also post workouts for beginners!
I hope this helps you and gives you something to think about. Comment below and let me know what you do to stay healthy!