There’s a lot of hype around health care. For example, there’s been tons of recent chatter around fad dieting and the potential for trendy yo-yo diets to have negative health impacts. Recent news stories have also frightened many about the potential for cell phones to cause cancer. Obesity is at an all time high, with over 34% of Americans now considered to be obese, according to the CDC. Not to take away from any of these issues or the hype around them, but what happened to the basics? What happened to focusing on living healthy, happy lives and taking proactive steps to make this a reality? All too often, it seems, we get caught up in health hype and forget to prioritize healthy living. With that said, below you’ll find some of the easiest ways you can prioritize your health and wellness.
- Breathe Deeply
- Drink More Water
- Think Visually When it Comes to Your Plate
- Laugh & Smile…Genuinely
Breathing is the only bodily function that we do both on a voluntary and involuntary basis. It is also the key to lots of immediate health benefits. Abdominal, or diaphragmatic breathing can have a tremendous impact on stress levels, and according to the AMSA1, can also help prevent infection of the lung and other tissues and improve the venous return of blood back to the heart.
As a culture, Americans are becoming more and more sleep deprived. There are countless negative side effects of sleep deprivation, but an easy remedy for most of them– napping! Alertness and physical performance can be improved by napping, and so too can our psychological well being. Remember, no matter how busy you are, sleep is not a luxury, it is a priority.
We recently did a blog post on hydration and benefits one can realize via sufficient hydration. Weight loss, younger and fresher looking skin, increased mental and physical energy, and disease prevention are just a few of the many benefits of staying hydrated. Learn more on hydration and its benefits and the harms of dehydration.
As was mentioned above, it’s easy to get caught up in health hype. One easy way to prioritize health from a nutritional standpoint is to focus on color. In general, the more colors on your plate (not via food coloring), the better. Did you know that white produce, such as garlic, parsnips and brown pairs have respiratory, heart & health benefits? Or how about that red produce, like tomatoes, watermelon, and beets can help lower risk for prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease? For a boost to your health, think in color! Additionally, the dreaded food pyramid, which most of us never used and certainly couldn’t remember, has been updated! Now, you can simply visualize your plate to help you determine how much protein, dairy, produce, and grains you need in your daily diet!
When you were in school, a friend or parent may have advised you to smile while walking into a test to improve your performance. It is true that smiling releases endorphins and can boost your mood, but according to more recent evidence, the smile must be a genuine one. This is good news for you! It means that just by surrounding yourself with people, places, and things that make you happy, your health could be improved. According to recent studies, smiling boosts positive emotions, and “those who experienced high levels of positive emotion were able to recover from a heart attack more quickly.” Furthermore, research conducted in Australia demonstrated that “those who genuinely smiled for a group photo had greater well-being and were healthier, even 30 years later.”2 So smile, it does a body good. And as for laughter? Laughter can improve blood flow, increase infection fighting antibodies, and even burn calories. I don’t know about you, but if happiness can be used to improve my health, I’m by all means going to prioritize smiling and laughing more regularly.
These are just a few of the simple ways we can improve our health. What else? What do you do to decrease stress and improve your emotional and physical well-being? Share your ideas with me in the comments below!