Making small changes to your daily routine can make a big difference to your health. The 10 healthy habits listed below are all things you can start doing straight away and will benefit both your physical and mental health. The tracker sheet will help you to remember all your healthy habits and make sure nothing gets left out each day.
The 10 healthy habits
#1 Get 7-8 hours sleep a night
Experts agree that most adults need at least 7 hours sleep per night for optimal health and mental alertness. Despite extensive research, no clear answer has been found to why we need to sleep. What is more clear is how inadequate sleep affects us. We can:
- Feel irritable and anxious
- Make mistakes/have poor judgement
- Have slow reactions
- Have poor concentration
- Be less creative
- Have memory problems
- Struggle with problem solving and reasoning
- Be less alert
If you have problems sleeping, then try these 10 tips.
#2 spend time outdoors
Being outdoors is good for mental and physical health. It helps us to feel calmer and have better sleep patterns. Ideally this should be in parks or other open spaces, but time in your garden or walking around your neighbourhood is also good. Aim to spend at least 15 minutes a day outdoors.
#3 get some exercise every day
You don’t need to do long gym workouts to benefit from exercise. Even 10 minutes exercise a day is beneficial. Try this 10 minutes a day plan.
#4 drink 2 litres/3.5 pints of fluid a day
Water has many vital functions in the body and we can only survive 2 or 3 days without it. Dehydration occurs when the body’s water content is too low and symptoms include headaches and confusion.
Women need at least 2 litres of fluid a day. Some of this comes from the food we eat but most of it is from fluid intake. Although we often hear the advice to drink 8 glasses of water every day, there hasn’t been any scientific research into whether we need that quantity of pure water versus other fluid. It’s unclear where the advice originally came from. However, as water is natural and calorie free, it seems logical that it would be the best choice of drink for health and wellbeing. It’s not always appealing to drink plain water though. Any of the following can contribute to a healthy daily fluid intake:
- Tea and coffee without sugar
- Unsweetened cocoa (preferably made with low fat milk or milk alternative)
- Fruit juice (but not in large quantities as it can cause a sugar spike)
- Vegetable juices
- Herbal teas
- Water flavoured with frozen fruit, citrus slices, mint or cucumber
# 5 get your 5 a day
Getting our “5 a day” has both long and short term health benefits. Fruit and vegetables help us in two main ways. Firstly, they contain fibre, which helps to keep the digestive system healthy. Secondly, they contain vitamins and minerals that help keep our whole bodies healthy. The recommendation is that we eat at least 5 x 80g portions per day of a variety of fruit and vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen or canned. Dried fruits count too – the portion size for these would be 30g. A glass of juice can count as one portion a day. Beans and pulses can also be one of your portions. However, they are not as good a source of nutrients as fruit and vegetables, so should only count as one of your portions even if you have more than one serving.
All fruits and vegetables are good and we should aim to eat a wide variety. Some are particularly high in beneficial chemicals and these are known as “superfoods”. The list below is some of the most common superfoods.
- Sweet potato
- Citrus fruits
- Berry fruits
- Green leafy veg
Read more about 5 a day here.
Most of us get stressed or anxious sometimes, but for some it becomes a permanent state that can have a serious impact on physical and mental health, as well as enjoyment of life. Often, removing the source of the stress or anxiety isn’t possible, so we need to have ways of unwinding and relaxing. Some people can relax by doing what they enjoy – or even doing nothing. But many will just remain in their tense, agitated state even if they are having “down time”. If you’re one of those people who can’t just switch off and relax, then you need to find a relaxation technique that works for you. Breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness are examples of popular relaxation techniques.
This is a very simple and surprisingly effective way of calming the mind and helping muscles to relax. There are lots of breathing exercises you can try, but the 4-7-8 one is a good one to start with – read more here.
Meditation requires you to quieten your mind – to stop pursuing thoughts that come into your head. One of the most common ways of achieving this is by focusing on breathing. Meditation can be very beneficial to those who practice it regularly, but not everyone finds it easy or enjoyable. Read more about meditation here.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation, in which you focus on what your senses are telling you. We often rush around not really noticing in much detail what we are seeing, hearing, smelling or even tasting. Focusing on our senses can help to calm us down. Read more about mindfulness here.
#7 eat breakfast
A good breakfast is a healthy start to the day. Skipping breakfast can leave you with low blood sugar and a craving for unhealthy sweet foods. If you don’t have much time or appetite in the morning, you could make a healthy breakfast smoothie.
#8 stretch regularly
Keeping our muscles flexible is important to health. Tight muscles can lead to poor posture, injury and restricted movement. Try doing these stretches every day.
#9 have good posture
Lack of flexibility and poor posture are closely related. They often end up forming a vicious cycle that is hard to break and ends in pain and injury. It’s easy to forget about posture, espcially if you’re busy or focusing your mind on something. Aim to check your posture at least 4 times a day. Read about good posture here.
#10 challenge your brain
Although having good health habits will help to keep our brains healthy, it’s good to stimulate them to keep them sharp. There are lots of ideas for keeping your brain challenged here or you could try some of these free courses.
Get the 10 healthy habits tracker sheet PDF download
Use the tracker sheet to tick off each habit and track your progress towards doing them all every day.
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