Are you fed up with languishing at home, feeling unfit and unmotivated? If so, then you are probably looking for ways to change up your lifestyle and improve your mental health and physical wellbeing. Sadly, this is much easier said than done. Most people go on a health kick for a couple of weeks, before losing motivation once more. This is usually because they have gone from one extreme to another. Instead of wildly transforming your lifestyle, you need to make small changes in increments, ensuring these goals are implementable and realistic. More importantly, don’t beat yourself up for not always achieving what you want to. Nothing kills motivation quite like shame or guilt. Knowing that the journey to changing your lifestyle and improving your overall wellbeing isn’t easy, we thought we would create this ultimate guide to help our readers along the way. Keep reading for some great advice, fantastic tips, and much-needed reassurance!
1. Eating a Balanced Diet
We know. Loud groans. Nothing is worse than hearing somebody jabber on about the importance of a balanced diet. But here’s the thing: the reason why everybody talks about healthy eating is that it genuinely works. It is a common misconception that you must diet and cut out certain foods from your diet to achieve the elusive status of ‘healthy’. This simply isn’t true. In fact, doing so could actually be more detrimental to your overall wellbeing – body, and mind. So, what exactly constitutes a balanced diet? Well, for starters, we recommend eating several cups of fruits, vegetables, and legumes every week. This is not too onerous a task if you integrate them into your daily meals. Beans and peppers can easily go into chili dishes, whilst tomatoes, aubergine, and courgette are perfect for pasta sauce. It’s also a good idea to snack on fruit throughout the day. Though diet plans usually say to avoid snacking, research has debunked this theory.
Instead, keep your metabolism going through the day by eating little and often. Also (don’t roll your eyes at this one) make sure to eat breakfast. This kickstarts your metabolism for the day and provides you with the energy you need to tackle anything. People who skip breakfast usually do so to lose weight. Depriving yourself of food is not the way to improve your overall well-being! The healthiest people always make sure they eat throughout the day, enjoying things like chocolate and crisps alongside fruit and vegetables. Nutrition doesn’t end at your greens, though. We also need everything from protein and dairy to carbohydrates and fat. That’s why balance is key. We recommend conducting some research into nutrition and finding ways to incorporate foods from each group into your daily meals.
2. Getting Your Sleep Cycle on Track
Humans sleep for one-third of their lifetime. Resting is incredibly important because it not only repairs our body after a long day of activity but also helps to rejuvenate our brains. Psychologists have conducted thousands of studies into the impact of sleep deprivation on the human mind and body. In the long term, it can be hugely detrimental, being linked to things like hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, memory loss, and immune system deficiency. Meanwhile, in the short term, not sleeping enough can affect your ability to concentrate, comprehend information, and complete tasks. You may feel a general sense of malaise, too. And let’s not forget about how sleep deprivation can impact your mood. You can find yourself feeling more irritable and anxious or depressed and unmotivated to complete any tasks. If you have a bad sleep schedule, then you likely feel this way all of the time.
So, to improve your overall wellbeing, you will need to learn how to reset your sleep schedule. This is no mean feat, especially as insomnia and fatigue can trap you in a vicious cycle. If you’re sleep-deprived, then you will feel more anxious, which will keep you up at night, causing you to become even more tired. And on and on it goes. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to break the cycle. We found this guide to reset your sleep schedule from RiseScience immensely helpful, as it has some fantastic tips, evidence-based advice, and interesting background information.
3. Becoming Physically Fit
Exercise isn’t supposed to be a punishment for gaining or losing weight. Instead, it is meant to be fun, allowing your body to move in the ways it desperately craves to. Humans were never supposed to spend all day every day being sedentary. We need activity. We are still hunter-gatherers at heart, trekking miles in search of food. In addition to this, exercise can make a real difference to both our physical and mental well-being. Getting fresh blood pumping through your body can help alleviate low moods and provide a rush of motivation. You can prevent health conditions and physical injuries with fitness, too.
For instance, swimming is known to help lung capacity and heart rate, whilst also being a low-impact sport for those with physical ailments. Interestingly, there are also studies that have shown swimming can help with arthritis. All these benefits from just one sport. Of course, you don’t need to participate in anything too labor-intensive to get your fitness levels up. Walking is another great way to improve your overall health. We suggest experimenting with a whole range of different sports and exercises. Find whatever you enjoy the most and then implement this into your lifestyle.
4. Getting in Touch with Your Emotions
We have spoken a lot about improving your wellbeing through external things you can do, such as eat a balanced diet and correct your sleep schedule. However, it is also crucial to touch upon what underpins everything we think, feel, and do. And that’s our mental health. If you have poor mental health, then you probably struggle to sleep, stick to a routine, and motivate yourself to be consistent with healthy eating or exercise. There is such a massive overlap between physical health and mental wellbeing, these two cannot be separated. But how exactly can we address problems with our mental health? Well, firstly, you need to get in touch with your emotions. When a painful or unpleasant feeling comes along, most people’s first instinct is to push it away. However, this feeling will simply find another way to express itself, whether that’s through anxiety, depression, anger, or self-destructive habits. Next time a painful emotion surfaces, allow yourself to feel it in its full capacity. Yes, this is horrible. Nobody enjoys it. But ultimately, you will be better off in the long term. The key is to observe your emotions, not act them out (i.e. start an argument with someone or punish yourself). We also suggest practicing self-awareness. Look inside yourself and ask why you feel this way? What caused it? If another person has upset you, apply the same questions in your head to them. They are probably struggling like you are. Using these tactics can make life a lot less confusing and painful.
We hope that you have found our guide helpful. Now, take this advice and apply it to your own life. Practicing self-care is the ultimate way to improve your overall wellbeing.