Take care of your body… and of your mind!
If you would like to improve your well-being, a healthy diet and regular physical activity are two essential elements that you should not neglect, as seen in part 1. However, they are not the only aspects of a healthy lifestyle: a good sleep hygiene and stress management matter, too! Let’s find out what other healthy habits you can adopt for a better lifestyle.
Get a good night’s sleep, every night
Sleep is an essential part of your health: it gives your body and your brain time to recover, allowing you to stay in good health, and prepare for another day. It is recommended that most adults should sleep at least 7 to 9 hours every night. Your sleep quality can impact other aspects of your life, such as how much you eat, how easy or difficult it is for you to exercise or even how you interact with others. A lack of sleep can put you at risk of several health conditions, and affect your energy levels and productivity throughout the day. Follow these tips to ensure you get the good sleep you deserve:
- Set yourself a sleep schedule and stick to it
The human body loves routine, and that is true when it comes to sleep too. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule allows your body’s internal clock to keep time and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily. It’s ok to have a few exceptions here and there when life gets in the way, but if you want to improve your sleep quality, sticking to a sleep schedule can be one way to do it.
- Cut back on screen time before bed
You have probably heard this before: blue light, such as the one from your phone, laptop, television, tablets, etc. (we hope you’re not reading this article before bed!) can have a negative impact on your ability to fall asleep. To remedy this, you can turn the brightness down on your devices and switch dark mode on when possible, use blue light filtering apps, and turn off your devices at least 2 or 3 hours before bed. Use this time to create a restful environment in your room and do calming activities, such as relaxation techniques or simply reading a book.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink before bed
The evening is definitely not the best time for a big cup of coffee or a super heavy meal. It is also recommended that you wait at least 2 to 3 hours after your last meal before going to bed. This will give your body enough time to digest and reduces the risk of you waking up with an upset stomach, indigestion or heartburn in the middle of the night.
- Exercise during the day
It’s no secret that exercise is good for you, but did you know it is also good for your sleep? Exercising during the day can help improve the quality and duration of your sleep. However, you might want to avoid intense exercising too late in the day, because physical activity can be a stimulant in some cases. When you work out, your metabolism speeds up, your body temperature rises and your hormones are stimulated, which can interfere with your sleep. It is therefore recommended that you finish working out at least 3 hours before bed.
Keep your stress under control
We all feel overwhelmed at one point or another, especially when we lead a hectic lifestyle and we have to juggle with work, family life, friends, commitments, etc. Feeling stressed can make you feel like you have lost control and leave you feeling desperate, undermining your confidence, productivity and overall mood. But mental health is as important as physical health, so you should not overlook it. Dedicate some time to yourself, and recharge when you need it. Keep these tips in mind if you would like to feel more relaxed and cope with your stress:
- Identify the source of your stress and make plans to solve it
A little bit of stress is not always a bad thing: it can actually help you get out of sticky situations in life, when you need a boost of adrenaline or increased awareness. So don’t just sit there being stressed, try to find ways to solve what is causing you to stress: is it a work project? Something in your personal life? An upcoming event? If you find certain tasks daunting, try to break them down into smaller steps and organise yourself so that you have enough time to go over all you need to do. Don’t leave everything last minute! Listing down everything you must do and keeping track of the deadlines can help you have a clearer view and set your priorities accordingly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your colleagues, friends or family if you need it. We’re not superheroes! Take breaks when you need to, which can help you stay productive. If something in your personal life is stressing you, try to communicate your feelings, either by talking with the people involved, confiding in a trusted friend or family member, or simply writing about it. This can help you put things into perspective, and allow you to move on.
- Dedicate time to the things you enjoy and the people you like
Life shouldn’t be all about work! There are so many things for you to discover and enjoy. Remember to save some time for the hobbies you enjoy: draw, paint, sing, dance, play an instrument, read, write, do some DIY, or simply watch your favourite TV show. These are all things that we tend to brush off when we have a busy schedule, but hobbies are important because they allow you to relax and reconnect with the things that you like. Exercising is also a great way to relieve stress, as it can boost your mood and make you feel good. You should also spend some time with your loved ones: they can help you get through stressful times and provide you with a caring environment in which you can relax.
- Try relaxation techniques
There are several techniques you can try to help you relax. Some people like to practise deep breathing, for example: this sends a signal to your brain to calm down, and can ease stress symptoms such as increased heart rate. Breathing exercises are easy to learn and can be used wherever you are to help relieve your stress. Yoga is another popular relaxation method, and focuses on increasing awareness of your body and breathing. Other relaxation techniques include mindfulness, meditation, tai chi, spending time in nature… Everyone is different, so find out what works best for you.
Well-being is a complex – and yet easy - process. A healthy diet, good sleep hygiene, and regular exercise are the three pillars of it, and learning how to manage your stress can be beneficial to your health too. There is no “one-size-fits-all” technique when it comes to well-being, but consistency, eating well, sleeping well and exercising regularly are the general principles that you should follow if you want to improve your health. Diet, exercise and sleep influence each other in a lot of ways, so do not neglect any of them. Well-being is a personal journey that requires commitment and takes time. Don’t expect to see changes and results straight away! Starting small and being consistent is the key to improving your lifestyle, and ultimately, your well-being.