Feeling Happy and Healthy: 5 Tips
Get plenty of quality sleep. Sleep affects many physiological and psychological aspects of your life. Getting a good night’s sleep can improve your immune system, enhance brain function and prevent ailments like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. As you sleep, you go through various stages, including light sleep, deep sleep and the restorative rapid eye movement stage. If you are wondering how to get more REM sleep, there are several ways. Wake at the same time each day, do some physical activity, avoid caffeine and alcohol around bedtime, and go to bed at the same time each night.
Health bloggers who tout the latest trends and try to keep up with the newest superfood can make nutrition seem confusing. On one hand, nourishing your body is simple: Eat fresh, healthful foods and drink plenty of water. On the other hand, it can be challenging to translate that guideline into your daily habits. Is it more important to avoid salt or sugar? Is it better to have low levels of fat or of carbohydrates? There are so many factors to consider. Consult your physician first, especially if you have certain health issues such as hypertension or diabetes. If you have no chronic conditions, choose an eating plan that you can follow easily, that doesn’t entirely eliminate any food groups, and that includes some of your favorite foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Plate plan is a good place to start. The Mayo Clinic’s website also offers objective, trustworthy nutrition information.
Fueling your body properly is essential, but using that fuel is just as important. You need to move every day. Even if you feel strong and are at a healthy weight, regular movement can help you lower stress and reduce inflammation. Adults should average 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, or 75 minutes of intense exercise. It may be easiest to break this up into a half-hour exercise session each weekday, but if your schedule will not allow that, even moving for 10 minutes at a time will produce benefits. Duration and intensity will vary according to age and agility; consult your physician or a table of general guidelines to start, then adjust accordingly. Gradually add activity and intensity as you get in better shape. In general, you should exercise enough to challenge yourself but not enough to injure yourself.
Being in natural surroundings is good for you. Trees, plants, sunshine and fresh air can boost your mood and decrease your anxiety. Researchers are unclear on the mechanisms at play, but there is increasing evidence that people who spend more time in nature show lower incidence of depression and improved general health. Other psychological benefits include higher energy levels, better focus and less stress. There are physiological benefits, too, such as better sleep, lower blood pressure, enhanced immune function and quicker recovery from illness. Obviously, it is best if you immerse yourself in a forest, hike in the desert or stroll along a beach, but those in urban settings can benefit from a five-minute walk in the park or a visit to a rooftop garden.
Your environment influences your health in many ways, but your inner landscape matters too. A grateful heart is a healthy heart. Research shows that individuals who practice gratitude deal with adversity in more constructive ways, create stronger social ties and experience more positive relationships. Gratitude and mindfulness help promote optimism; a cheerful attitude encourages healthy habits like exercise and discourages unhealthy behavior such as tobacco use. Expressing gratitude to others may enhance and prolong health effects, but it is not necessary. Health benefits begin internally, when you privately focus on good things by meditating, praying or keeping a gratitude journal.