- Prioritise your sleep
Sleep is the thing we do every single day, it requires no effort and is enjoyable, however it’s the one thing that gets compromised over socialising, drinking, bingeing on TV shows or work. As humans we are diurnal meaning we sleep/rest at night and are energised throughout the day. This oscillation is due to shifts in ‘operating systems’ one characterised by the sympathetic nervous system or our 'fight or flight’ - gearing us to be alert and primed for the day. The flip to this is our parasympathetic nervous system which is our rest and restore - facilitating cellular cleansing and detox.
The optimal amount of sleep for most of us is between 7-8 hours night, any less is bad for our health as is too much. Creating a consistent sleep routine which promotes 7-8 hour quality sleep will pay dividends.
2. Eat predominately natural and unprocessed foods
You don’t have to be eating kale 24/7 to be healthy, and a healthy diet shouldn’t feel like a sacrifice and/or living with deprivation.
Bottom line …food should be enjoyed.
A healthy diet can have diversity, be rich in flavours, colours and textures, life is too short to eat bland food. Even before counting calories or splitting your macronutrients, there are some huge wins from eating predominately natural and unprocessed food.
3. Drink minimum 2 litres water per day
On average we dehydrate by 100mls every hour and so to ensure we keep hydrated aim for minimum of 2 litres across the day. Eating natural and unprocessed foods will contribute to hydration and can account for 20%. Add more fluids across the day if in hot/humid surroundings or exercising. Cognitive impaired can occur from as little as 5% dehydration. Start your day with two large glasses of water to replenish the lost fluid during the night.
We don’t have to be athletes or strive for ‘personal bests’ but moving in some way, shape or form will help to generate positive health outcomes. Take some solace in knowing that exercise isn’t the biggest driver of health or weight management (nutrition and sleep take care of these by and large) so select a mode of exercise that you can do sustainably or something you enjoy. I like throwing in some ‘Green' or ‘Blue’ which is literally anything in nature or the water - purely something enjoyable rather than a means to an end.
If you want to cover all bases then add some heavy (it’s all relative) lifting a couple of times a week and sprint (HIIT) once a week.
5. Manage Stress
Stress can be insidious to our health and left unchecked can trigger a cascade of health-compromising outcomes. Stress can come out the blue or present itself chronically, whichever from it takes or from whichever direction it comes attempt to manage it as best as you can. Taking a breath in stressful moments can often help as can regular exercise. Being grateful for all you have and softening the inner critical voice is also important for managing stress. Life is a serious of ups and downs and to say there is an existence devoid of stress is to believe in unicorns. Some stress can actually bring out the best in us and drive us forward but when it become excessive then cracks can appear unless intervention occurs.