When it comes to improving your health, energy, and wellbeing, I’ve got a few simple mottos:
- When you feel better, you can do better.
How many times have you had a great intention to do something that meant a lot to you, but when the time came to actually do it you were too tired to go? Or had a headache; or your back hurt; or you felt too fried to be of use? Taking better care of yourself gives you more energy for the important stuff and the fun stuff
- The choices that lead to better personal health also create greater health in the world at large.
Walking to do your errands saves gas; warding off injury and pain with stretching and more daily movement saves on healthcare costs; eating more vegetables and weaning off processed foods supports farmers; etc. Taking better care of yourself helps you take better care of everyone.
- Improving your health is the result of small actions taken consistently.
Thankfully, getting healthier doesn’t mean you have to completely overhaul your diet or your life. While no one small change—such increasing your vitamin D levels—will solve all health problems, each little step you take to support your health will create more vitality that will make it easy to take the next step. It becomes less about reluctantly changing behaviors and more about doing something nice for yourself because you know it moves the needle in a positive direction. (And that’s generally when people start noticing that you seem to glow and start asking you what you’re doing differently.)
All these reasons are why “Be Healthy” is one of the chapters in my new book, How to Be a Better Person. In it, I include 50+ suggestions for simple lifestyle changes that are easy to implement yet yield big results. Each one will put more fuel in your tank to keep you going and help you feel great along the way.
Here are three of my favorites from the book:
Change Your Default Reaction to Stress
You may not realize it, but you have a go-to reaction to stress. You may jump to anger, or dive into self-criticism, or feel overwhelmed. Maybe you reach for cookies or start skimping on sleep. What does your stress pattern look like? Write it down, then make a list of things you could do instead of those old standbys—taking a walk, making a cup of tea, belting out a song on the car ride home, or getting in a warm bath before bed are all helpful options. Even if you try one new thing before rummaging in the snack drawer, you’ll have interrupted your knee-jerk response. Responding to life with intention, rather than by reaction, is almost always a better approach.
Master One Healthy Recipe Each Week For Three Months
Revamping your diet can be a daunting challenge—so daunting that you don’t actually get around to doing it. Rather than making sweeping changes, aim to try out one new healthy recipe each week. Since you really only need about a dozen recipes to be able to cook most of your meals and not get bored by lack of variety, you’ll have a whole new repertoire of healthy homemade meals in just one season.
Change Up How You Sit
Whether in the car, at work, or in leisure hours, people are sitting more than ever, and research has consistently found that the more people sit, the worse their health. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stand the majority of the day, however. You merely need to change the position of your body more frequently, because the real peril of sitting in a chair is that your body stays in the same shape for hours on end, which negatively impacts your joints, muscles, circulation, digestion, and immunity. So, yes, stand and walk more when it makes sense (don’t automatically grab a seat on the subway, stand up for conference calls, and walk to the post office instead of driving). But also, when you do sit, change your position and even your location for greater ranges and variety of motion: sit cross-legged in your plane seat, have a picnic dinner on the living room rug, plop down on the floor instead of the couch to watch your favorite show. Your body will thank you, your mind will enjoy the novelty, and you just may end up living longer (and certainly more nimbly).
But remember, there are 49 more in the book!
And in the meantime here are some blog posts from the archives that do a deeper dive on other health hacks:
The Number One Key to Changing Bad Habits
6 Practical Ways to Make Self-Care a Reliable Part of Your Life
4 Ways to Invest in Your Health
7 Ways to Do Yoga With Kids Around
One Child’s Pose. Two Minutes. 7 Days (and Counting) of Benefits.
Give Yourself a Different Experience (Also, How I Finally Lost Those Last 10 Pounds)
Speaking of the book, I’ve started receiving pictures from people around the country who have spotted the book on a table of new releases at their local Barnes & Noble.
(This one is from Long Beach, California.) It is so exciting! If you see the book on a trip to your local store, I would LOVE it if you snapped a pic and tagged me on Instagram (@katehanleyauthor), Twitter (@KateHan), or Facebook (@katehanleyauthor) with the hashtag #beabetterpersonbook. Thank you in advance!!
Here’s to your health,