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10 Simple Ways to Develop a Healthier Lifestyle
1. Pack a Healthy Lunch and Leave Your Debit Card at Home
Vending machines, fast food, and dessert coffees are waiting for us around every corner. The stress of the day may lead to temptation, which may in turn lead to a couple extra pounds. As a senior in college and a vending machine addict, I'm quite familiar with the catchphrase "freshman 15". Of course it doesn't help me that each vending machine within the facility has a credit card reader. My solution to this problem is to bring my lunch and my snacks from home, with maybe a couple cash dollars to reward myself on a hard day.
Packing your own lunch is a great habit that allows you to control exactly what you put into your body. Normally I make a sandwich and bring a thermos full of black coffee, two fruits, a vegetable, mixed nuts, and an avocado. When compared to a vending machine diet of honey buns and doritos, I can honestly say my energy is higher and I feel better about my choices at the end of the day.
2. Park Your Car in the Back of the Parking Lot
Forcing yourself to move more throughout your day can be a simple life hack to exercise, sort of. If you're a busy person like me, then it's important to get your exercise where you can. This means parking as far away from the front door of your destination as possible! The extra steps will help you burn calories and get your blood pumping, because there's nothing worse than a sedentary circulatory system. It's like my mother always said, "Take the stairs, not the elevator, unless you've got some unfortunate medical condition that doesn't let you take the stairs."
3. Walk or Bicycle Instead
On a nice day, be ambitious. If you live a mile or two from your place of work or school, why not walk instead of drive? Sure, you may have to leave 15-30 minutes earlier, but your body will thank you for the Vitamin D it synthesized beneath the sunshine. If you can't walk to school or work, walk somewhere. This could be a grocery store, a church, a mall, an ice cream parlor, it doesn't matter. I realized a long time ago that I hate walking without a destination or a purpose, so unless I give myself a reason to move, I wont do it. Find your reason.
4. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!
Staying in one position for extended periods of time causes tension in the body. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons will tighten. This will cause stress, soreness, cramping, and sometimes injury in the body. Regularly masking the effects of a stiff body with over the counter medications could lead to serious health problems.
Stretching is a natural, healthy way to relieve most or all of those issues. It increases your flexibility and range of motion, and improves athletic performance. There is no such thing as too much stretching!
This is my favorite yoga DVD. Ashley Turner is a master at demonstrating gentle effective stretching, and guided breathing exercises. It's perfect for noobies!
5. Practice Deep Breathing Exercises
One way to check if a person is alive or dead is to hold a mirror under their nose, if it fogs up, they're alive and breathing. Because breathing, for the most part, is an unconscious act it's easy for us to forget about the soothing health benefits of taking a nice deep inhale. Breathing revitalises the tissue by introducing new oxygen into the body and eliminated nasty carbon dioxide. Breathing reduces stress in the mind and body.
6. Stay Hydrated
Drink your water, because worst case scenario dehydration can kill you. The body needs to stay hydrated to function well. Don't believe me? Consult the experts!
7. Keep a Journal
Life for people can be difficult and turbulent. At some point in time we all experience loneliness, and we all feel the need for attention. Unfortunately, there wont always be somebody around to comfort and nurture our needs. Negative emotion is natural and healthy, but only when we confront it by working through it. Journaling is an excellent way to meet your needs and deal with your problems. Writing down what upsets you gives you the opportunity to vent your frustrations, and leaves behind a record for you to grow and learn from. If you're suffering from a form of depression or anxiety, your documentation will help your healthcare provider to understand what you are going through and to develop a plan of action that best suites your needs.
8. Have a Sense of Humor!
"Laughter is the best medicine!" I must've seen, heard, and read this a million times. Laughter reduces the release of stress hormones into the body, strengthens the immune system, and can ease an uncomfortable situation. Some people take their laughter medicine so seriously that they devote their lives to a practice called laughter yoga. Everyone has the opportunity to be funny, if you can't laugh with others, then laugh at yourself.
9. Be Altruistic by Performing Good Deeds
According to psych central, a 5 year study demonstrated that helping others may improve your health and longevity by reducing your risk of social isolation, and that "providers of compassion" receive some of the same benefits as the person receiving your service. Simply put, doing good feels good.
10. Treat Yourself the Way You Want Others to Treat You
You need to be your own best advocate. If you wouldn't call your best friend stupid and lazy for getting a "B" on an exam, don't do it to yourself either. You can be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses, that's a good thing. Just keep your attitude in check, and take care of yourself by eating nutritiously, getting enough sleep, and living with purpose.