Our modern society tends to live life in a bit of a whirlwind. There’s managing work, relationships, side hustles, upskilling, finding time for hobbies, perhaps getting children down to bed each night – and somewhere within all of that, you need to also find time to take care of your health and wellbeing. To help you to take care of yourself amongst all of the other aspects of your fast-paced life, we’ve put together a list of 10 simple, healthy habits to do every day.
Get at least 7 hours sleep per night
Depending on your current age, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend adults get around 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. According to the Sleep Foundation (an online sleep resource overseen by a medical advisory board), sleep allows your body to relax and, during the REM stage of sleep (the deepest stage of sleep), it provides an essential rest period that supports your brain’s memory and learning functions. So, if you’re looking for healthy habits to get into, healthy sleep habits are a crucial place to start. If you’re struggling to wind down at the end of the night, you might find our article on How to Get the Perfect Night’s Sleep useful.
Support your body’s nervous system
Particularly if you’re constantly living life on the go, you want to support your nervous system to the best of your ability. The nervous system is a complex system that communicates signals throughout your body – and it has high energy needs. To support these energy needs, you need healthy mitochondria – they are the powerhouses of your cells that are responsible for energy production.
As MitoQ’s Chief Scientific Officer, Will Stow, explained in a recent Q&A, “Nerve cells contain lots and lots of mitochondria. They require a huge amount of energy. It's often said that your brain is only 2% of your body’s weight but it uses 20% of your body’s energy needs. Any cells that have lots of mitochondria/use a lot of energy also produce a lot of free radicals. So MitoQ is excellent at supporting your nervous system.”
Create a morning ritual
A study published in the Harvard Business Review in 2016 found that those who begin their day feeling calm or happy usually continue feeling that way for the remainder of the day, while those who start their day in a terrible mood not only stay that way – they typically feel worse by the end of the day. Carried out by surveying customer service representatives over several weeks, the study highlights the importance of practicing a healthy morning routine that enables you to start the day in a good headspace. If you’re not sure what healthy habits to start your day with, there are hundreds of morning routines online to take inspiration from. For example, fitness pioneer Tracy Anderson makes a point of starting every morning with fresh air, snuggling her family, drinking some coffee and reading outside in a rocking chair. Start looking at what others do, and note down ideas that appeal to you.
Use sun protection
Sun protection is an easy-to-implement healthy lifestyle habit that can make a big difference to your health. The World Health Organization states, “Overexposure to sunlight is widely accepted as the underlying cause for harmful effects on the skin, eye and immune system” and recommends taking the following steps to protect yourself from the sun:
- Limit sun exposure between 10am – 4pm (when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest)
- Make use of nearby shade
- Wear a wide-brim hat + UV-A and UV-B protection sunglasses
- Use SPF 15+ sunscreen
Eat a balanced diet
Forming healthy eating habits should be high on your list of healthy lifestyle habits. A balanced diet featuring a variety of fresh, unprocessed foods is recommended. The WHO suggests including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet as well as wholegrain cereals, legumes, and moderate amounts of healthy fats. Integrative Nutritionist Kaytee Boyd puts it best on her Instagram account where she says, “Mix it up, get as MUCH nutrients as you can. Add blackcurrants into your breakfast, aim for 3 extra handfuls of colored veggies a day. Get organized. Make it easy on yourself to help your cells repair, recover and replicate as they should!”
Multiple studies have found that exercise can effectively be used to support mental and physical wellbeing. A 2012 review found that depression levels are lower among those who exercise, while another paper on the cardiovascular benefits of exercise concluded: “physical activity is an easy, inexpensive, and effective way to avoid CVD (cardiovascular disease)”. If you’re not sure where to start with your exercise routine, consider activities that can easily be implemented into your existing schedule. Riding an exercise bike while you make that phone call, committing to 15 minutes of Pilates a day or stretching your body first thing in the morning with a couple of yoga poses are all great starting points. From there, try to work your way up to the WHO’s recommendation of doing two or more days per week of muscle-strengthening exercises plus 75-150 minutes of intense aerobic exercise (or 150-300 weekly minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise). If you’re looking for some easy at-home workouts, check out Gunnar Peterson’s home workout series.
Use stress management techniques
A key ritual that all busy people need to factor into their daily routines is stress relief. It might take some trial and error to find what works for you. One research review has suggested that yoga can be used to reduce stress, while a 2013 study found that mindfulness meditation can potentially be used to provide stress relief due to its proven ability to lower cortisol levels in the blood. If those two options don’t sound like you, there are plenty more to choose from in 8 Ways to Cope with Stress in a Healthy Way.
Create a healthy workspace
With many of us spending 40+ hours per week at work, it’s so important to prioritize our wellbeing at work. For you, this might mean building in healthy habits when working from home that will allow you to create barriers between your work life and your personal life. At ‘the office’, this might mean discussing employee wellbeing initiatives with your employer and how these might benefit the company in the long term. If you work in an office space, the American Occupational Therapy Association suggests adjusting your chair, lighting, computer monitor and desk so that they are all at comfortable levels. Other healthy habits to follow daily include taking regular breaks and staying hydrated.
Make time to connect
Social and emotional wellbeing are key elements of our mental and physical health, according to a research review published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. One of the key findings of the review was that social relationships can impact our health habits. So, if you’re trying to build healthy habits into other areas of your life, your relationships could support you in doing so. For busy people like you, looking for simple ways to integrate more time with friends and family into your busy schedule is key. This might mean combining your workouts with socializing by going for a social bike ride or jumping on the trampoline with your kids. If you’re looking for ideas, our guide to work and family balance is packed full of inspiration.
When was the last time you heard someone complain about feeling worse after going outside (other than when they’ve been caught in the rain)? Sometimes, 5 minutes of fresh air can be the reset we need to destress and focus our brains. The benefits of spending time in nature range from decreased anxiety to improved cognition, according to a Science Direct study. Whether it’s walking to work, eating your lunch in the sunshine, taking ‘walking meetings’ at work or reading a book in a hammock at the end of the day – ensure you are stepping outside whenever possible.