Health has been made to seem overcomplicated and overwhelming. The reality is that by simply making small swaps in our everyday lives we can support our bodies strength, resilience, vitality and longevity. So today I am stripping back the nonsense and sharing five simple steps to help you feel a little better and live a little healthier every day.
There’s no denying it, we are addicted to our phones. We are uncertain of the long term impacts of this habit on human mental and physical health – but from personal experience I know that stepping away from screens helps to reduce my stress levels and make me more calm and present. There are numerous ways we can spend less time online but my favourite one is leaving my phone on airplane mode overnight and then keeping it there for the first 1-2 hours of my day. This allows me to start each morning with a clear and stress-free mind before I get bombarded by emails, whatsapp’s and social media notifications.
Sleep is perhaps the most underrated health-promoting behaviour. It gets neglected as a result of late nights at the office and early morning workouts. The reality is that sleep is absolutely essential to long term health, as is expertly documented in the incredible book Why We Sleep. Since reading this book I have completely readdressed my approach to sleep and moved it into pride of place as one of my top priorities. You can read more about my top tips to optimise sleep here but for this article I wanted to share my personal favourite; try to formulate a short pre-bed routine which signals to your body that it is time to rest. This can be as simple as switching your phone to airplane mode, turning down the lights, brushing your teeth, doing your skincare routine, reading a few pages of a book and practising daily gratitude. I find that implementing this routine every day helps me doze off much faster than when I rush home and jump into bed without following it.
The benefits of exercise are well known, from increasing cardiovascular capacity and building stronger muscles, bones and joints through to supporting mental health and reducing stress levels. However, mainstream and social media can make it appear like there are “right and wrong” ways to workout, which isn’t the case. The most effective approach to exercise is the one that works for you, and that varies from individual to individual. However, one thing we can all do almost every day is get walking and get outdoors. I always advocate for trying to get in around 8-10,000 steps a day, ideally in nature, to support long term health. Getting outside takes us away from our everyday stresses, moves our body and calms our mind. For me, I use my commuting time to get in my steps but even walking to a lunch spot a little further from the office counts!
It is as important to look after our mental health as our physical health. I personally find that doing a simple gratitude practice every evening helps to support my positive mindset. Right before we fall asleep I simply tell my partner three highlights from my day. Three little moments which brought me joy. Doing this allows me to find gratitude on even the darkest of days. And if you don’t have a partner? You can write these down in a journal, text them to a friend or just mentally take note of them to yourself. (If you want to take it to the next level, we also share one improvement from every day and set one intention for the next day – which I find equally beneficial).
Perhaps the most complex and overwhelming element of health is nutrition. It seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry has a differing opinion on what we should be eating. Now, I am not here to tell you what dietary approach to follow (except maybe to eat less meat and more plants for the benefit of the planet). Instead I want to encourage you to start my implementing one foodie focus to your day: adding in greens. These include veggies such as broccoli, spinach, french beans, and sprouts. These, especially dark leafy greens like kale and chard, are extremely nutrient dense, fibre rich and packed full of goodness. Aim to get in at least one to two portions a day and your body will thank you!
By implementing these simple swaps into your daily life you will reap huge benefits and feel better almost immediately. Of course there is so much more to health than just five simple steps, but these are a positive and accessible place to start.