On the daily, we’re inundated with quick-fix solutions for a longer, healthier life. Truth is, dear old ma was right all along—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Better to spend your time and attention on forming habits that have a proven track record of boosting wellness.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait until the New Year to make healthy resolutions. Start anytime and remember to cut yourself slack as necessary, says Dr. Rumeet Billan, Canadian Mental Health Association Ambassador and emotional resilience expert.
Keeping what goes on in your mind in check is more important than you may realize. Poor mental health has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, increased inflammation and a weakened immune system. You can cope with negative feelings by engaging in activities that make you feel good while avoiding those that don’t. For example, start your day by doing an activity that makes you feel happy and at peace, such as enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to our fave podcast or writing in your journal.
Studies show that hanging out with a pal can lower stress levels, boost cardiovascular health and improve illness recovery rates, to name just a few benefits.
Filling half your plate with vegetables is always a good rule of thumb. Veggies are packed with vitamins and nutrients that can do wonders for your overall health. For instance, leafy greens are high in vitamin K. Studies have shown that vitamin K deficiency can lead to cardiovascular disease, bone fragility and kidney problems. Orange veggies like carrots and sweet potato boost beta-carotene, which helps to regulate the immune system and maintain good vision. Upping your veg intake doesn’t mean sticking to a salad-only diet. Sneak in veggies by adding them to dessert (e.g. adding grated zucchini toa cake recipe) or adding a handful of greens to your berry smoothie. (Related: 10 of the Healthiest Vegetables You Can Eat)
Stress is an inevitable part of life, but learning how to cope by practising mindfulness and developing resilience is essential. Meditation offers many benefits, including boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure and increasing attention and focus. Taking as little as 10 minutes to be present and be extra-kind to yourself can make a huge difference. “Self-talk is how we make our emotions real,” says Dr. Billan. “Consider the language you use with yourself when faced with a challenge and become the critic of your inner critic.’
Carving out time for exercise is a proven secret to a long, healthy life. (It can also help relieve stress.) In fact, a Harvard University study found that as little as 15 minutes of daily physical activity can add three years to your life. One of Dr. Billan’s tips for training your mind to exercise more? Create visual cues. “If you want to start running, leave your running shoes by the door.”
With all the social media platforms and streaming services out there, it has become the norm to spend more time online than offline. (Here are the signs you have a social media addiction.) Excessive digital time has been linked to health concerns like obesity and depression. Decreasing your daily screen time means more time to be mindful, move your body, experience nature and sleep-in other words, more time to adopt all of the healthy habits listed above!
Now that you know the six priorities to make for a healthy life, check out these other genius ways to be healthy on a budget.