5 ways to be healthier that don’t involve going on a diet
Here’s the thing. Health is so much more than the number on a scale or how many steps you take throughout the day. It’s building good, sustainable habits in all areas of life, not just on our plates. The good news is many of these healthy habits are easy to implement and can have huge results.
1. Practice sleep hygiene
Sleeping poorly doesn’t just affect how we feel the next day. Over a lifetime, it can have serious consequences, and is associated with chronic illnesses like diabetes and obesity. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but there are some basic bedtime habits that everyone can benefit from: avoid stimulants and electronic devices 90 minutes before bed; exercise during the day to help you get to sleep that night; and keep the bedroom strictly for sleeping. Some people find lavender helpful; others need white noise to mask the outside world.
2. Learn to cook
Research demonstrates that people who cook and eat at home are more likely to be healthier and consume fewer kilojoules than those who eat out more. Why? It’s the best way to be in total control of the ingredients that go into our bodies. Your recipes don’t need to be fancy, gastronomic works of art; sometimes the simplest meals are the best. Time poor? The meal-prep trend has provided many shortcuts for those of us without much time. On a budget? There are many resources out there that teach how to eat well on a shoestring. Out of excuses? Good.
3. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
You’ve heard of gratitude journals, but what benefits do they offer? Turns out, a lot. Study after study has found that people who regularly demonstrate gratitude are happier and healthier, with long-term positive effects on individual wellbeing. They also have healthier, more fulfilling relationships, both at home and at work. Gratitude helps us refocus on what we have, not on what we want or what we’re lacking, and that simple shift in perspective does us good.
4. Be kind to yourself
Some days, it’s easy to be good to ourselves, but it’s how we treat ourselves on our bad days that counts. Self-compassion is being kind to ourselves when we need it, and recognising that everyone makes mistakes. There’s a lot of research into self-compassion, and it’s clear that it has many benefits to our long-term wellbeing, with positive consequences on our happiness, how satisfied we are with our lives, optimism, and emotional intelligence.
5. Go outside
There are so many benefits associated with spending time in nature that it’s impossible to list them all. Natural spaces can restore us psychologically. Being outside – even a citified urban park – can increase creativity, empathy, vitality, psychological wellbeing, working memories, attention span, and boost our mood. It’s easy for us Aussies to take for granted the amazing year-round weather we have. But just 15 minutes is all it takes for our bodies to benefit from the great outdoors.