The new year often starts with resolutions and rigid goals that, even more often, leave us feeling wilted with defeat. With spring in the near distance, what better time to shift our mindset toward a kinder, more intuitive approach to wellness that allows room for flexibility, growth, and evolution—and maybe a little more fun.
We live in a world full of options that encompass just about every aspect of our lives. There’s a certain irony in the fact that we’re also assailed by a world full of advice that, in many ways, can hem us into the most inflexible of lifestyle choices. But advice dating back to ancient Greece and the poet Hesiod, “… moderation in all things …” can offer a more flexible—and much kinder—path toward wellness.
So, congratulations on making a commitment to live your best life! Here’s a little support (and maybe some permission) for those days when you’re just not feeling the motivation to go all in.
Eat well, eat sustainably
There’s plenty of scientific evidence that links the way we eat to not only our own health but also to environmental sustainability. Try being a “flexitarian” with your diet if going all in (plant-based) isn’t for you.
- Practise putting more plants on your plate and include grains, nuts, and legumes.
- Reconsider and reduce the amount of meat, especially red meat, you eat.
- Think about the food you eat: where does it come from and how is it nourishing your body?
- Pass up processed foods more often in favour of natural and nutritious options—you might like them better and you’ll definitely feel better for it.
Tip: Keep a jar of your favourite nuts or seeds on the kitchen counter; chances are this will become your go-to snack option.
Supplemental support: Because there’ll always be times when you’re just flat out of time or opportunity to get all the nutrition you need from your diet, daily multivitamin/mineral supplements can provide a great backstop.
Water’s crucial to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. Make your (filled) water bottle your new bestie.
- Make a habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day.
- Keep sugar-sweetened beverages like fruit juices, energy drinks, and vitamin waters to a minimum, although you’ll find <sugar-free> vitamin water options in your local health store—a great choice to supplement your nutritional intake.
- Liven up your daily water intake by flavouring your H2O with fruit or veg; try lemon, lime, or orange slices; berries or cherries; or even cucumber slices.
- Limit alcohol, which is a diuretic; healthier—and actually tasty—nonalcohol (zero-proof) bev’s are the latest it-thing on the beverage market.
Tip: Coffee and tea and many plant-based foods we eat (think cantaloupe and watermelon, strawberries and grapes, lettuce and spinach, cabbage and squash, apples and oranges, carrots and broccoli, pears and pineapple) add to our daily water intake.
Stay active to stay fit
You may be busy, but staying physically active is one of the best things you can do to stay fit and healthy—both physically and mentally—and it’s also a great solution to sleep issues. There are a ton of fun ways to stay fit—find your favourites.
- Your goal is 2.5 hours a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, but the lighter stuff (standing, taking the stairs, mowing the lawn) matters too.
- It’s also important to limit sedentary time; break up bouts of sitting as much as possible (go fill your water bottle or do some light stretching).
- Do what makes you happy to stay fit; it doesn’t have to be a punishing gym workout.
- A brisk walk outside in nature is great for your fitness, your overall health, your immune function—and your state of mind.
Tip: Making fun a goal can actually lead to sustained benefits. Research has found that activity-related, enjoyable goals maintain well-being and happiness, because people continue to engage in things they enjoy.
Supplemental support: Athletes and those looking to ensure enough protein in their diets can turn to protein powders, available in many options for every kind of diet.
Make room for restful sleep
Getting enough quality sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining good health and well-being; it’s as essential to survival as water, food, and shelter. Giving yourself a good night’s sleep isn’t a luxury.
- Make quality sleep a priority in your life; you’ll be less likely to skimp on sleep when life or work challenges get in the way.
- Be sure you’re well-hydrated; drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day may be just enough to improve sleep quality—as well as cognition and mood.
- Improve your chances of falling asleep by sticking to a schedule and avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and heavy meals before bedtime.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet; this means turning off screens (cellphones, tv’s, laptops) well before bedtime.
Tip: Healthy adults take 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep on average, and many enjoy consistent sleep: they go to bed at regular times, fall asleep quickly, and experience little wakefulness.
Supplemental support: When a good night’s sleep is alluding you, camomile, magnesium, valerian, and melatonin are go-to aids that may help you solve occasional interruptions in restful sleep.
Do yourself—and your planet a favour
Living flexibly can also include living sustainably. A kinder, more thoughtful approach to your own lifestyle (think more plants, less meat, for one) may, as a result, bring benefits to the planet’s health. Here are a few other ways to throw the planet some love.
- Reduce single-use plastic in your everyday life, starting with reusable bags for shopping, but also by swapping reusable glass containers for plastic, aluminum foil, and cling wrap in your kitchen and replacing paper towels with reusable cloth rags.
- Grow your own—even if it’s a simple balcony garden for tomatoes and herbs. Home gardening not only provides healthy food (yay, organic!), but also terrific exercise and a fun new hobby.
- Buying less and consuming less means using fewer natural resources and throwing away less into landfills. By reducing and repurposing or recycling (properly) you can dramatically decrease your personal impact on the planet.