When we talk about “getting healthy,” it’s easy to picture the long journey ahead of us and feel daunted. A healthy lifestyle takes time. So often, we neglect our health because we feel too overwhelmed with work, family time, and the overall busyness of life. But what we may not realize is that the actions that lead to health can take many forms (no lengthy workout routines required). And it’s the little healthy actions we take every day that add up to big change over time.
In celebration of Texas Walks, a 10-minute event encouraging Texans to get outside and walk together, our talented team of interns have curated 10 easy actions to incorporate into your day whenever you have a spare moment. Some of these can be done in as short as one minute, and all of them are sure to improve your health – mind, body, and spirit.
Maintaining flexibility is a great way to prevent injuries and prevent body aches. Having loose muscles and joints allows you to enjoy the benefits of painlessly playing with your kids or doing yard work. Yoga is an ancient practice widely known for its calming and healing qualities. By focusing on breathing and holding poses, yoga can accommodate to any flexibility level and can be done a little each day to greatly improve. Here is an online yoga instructor who posts tutorials online for free, and she’s based right here in Austin!
Healthy snacks/drink water
You may have heard before that snacking too much will spoil your dinner. While we all fall victim to the mid-afternoon munchies once in a while, what we choose to snack on is what really matters. Making sure to have nutritious, balanced snacks on hand will satisfy cravings and help you stay on track. HEB has a few snack ideas right here.
Sometimes we feel hungry but we are actually dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water before you tear open that bag of chips, wait 10-20 minutes, and see if you feel fuller. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should be drinking 8 glasses of water per day. So grab that reusable water bottle and start sippin’!
Clean your room/take a nap
Messy room, messy mood, as they say. It’s tough to remain calm when your environment is chaotic. Research shows that we actually get higher quality sleep in a clean room. Deep cleaning an entire room may take a while, but tidying up just a small bit can drastically impact our mindset and improve our rest. Then, you can reward yourself for cleaning with a quick power nap on your freshly-made bed and refresh those energy levels to tackle the day ahead.
Walk/jog/take the stairs
If you are able to, replacing the use of an elevator or car ride with leg-power is a simple way to increase physical activity in your day. Walking is one of the best things you can do for your health, helping you think better, relate better, and feel more connected to the world around you. It can even lower your risk for things like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. That’s why we’re ask you to join us and participate in Texas Walks on November 8th. All across Texas, we’ll be taking steps toward leading healthier lives and building healthier communities. Join us by pledging to walk here!
Meditation has taken the wellness industry by storm lately, but it has been practiced for centuries. Focusing on your breath and letting go of life’s stressors for even just a few minutes can help you refocus on your priorities and enter a balanced state of mind. Stress is incredibly detrimental to our health, so taking a few minutes to take deep breaths can counteract those effects. Don’t know how to begin your own practice? Here’s a guided meditation to get you started.
Plan your meals
We are much more likely to splurge on eating out if we do not already have a meal at home planned. Restaurants and fast food are pricey as well as very high in calories. Taking the time each week to pick out healthy recipes and schedule when you’ll eat them will not only save you money, but most importantly keep you on track with your health goals. HEB has 2 week’s worth of healthy dinner suggestions on their website.
The Journal of Positive Psychology has found that spending just 5 minutes a day in nature can invoke more positive emotions than staying indoors. Texas becomes an extravagant display of the fall with crisp winds, gorgeous sunsets, and rustic leaves of reds and oranges. Taking in the scenery is not only awe-inspiring, but immensely beneficial to managing stress and therefore improving your health.
In the spirit of fall, we do not have to save thankfulness for Thanksgiving. In fact, thinking up a short list of things you are grateful for every day is a great way to practice positivity, even on the days that aren’t so positive. This positivity then translates to other areas of your life, like diet and exercise. Before you know it, you are grateful for the chance to exercise, rather than dreading every minute of it. Reframing the way we see challenges takes time, but it starts with taking notice of the small things to be thankful for. Here is an article from Yale University that goes more in depth about practicing gratitude.
For many of us, reading anything other than our Facebook feed stopped right after school ended. However, reading is one of the best ways to improve brain function. Not to get too scientific, but reading engages your brain in a way that improves your ability to connect ideas to words, thus making you a more effective communicator. Communication is extremely important to maintain close relationships and perform in a professional setting. Health expands beyond physical aspects, so taking care of your mind is just as important for living healthier. You don’t have to crack open that dusty book in your nightstand if it’s too much for you. Instead, try a local newspaper or magazine, or a blog that focuses your passions. Much to your high-school self’s surprise, reading is fun!
Did you know that laughing is amazing for your health? It stimulates organ function and increases oxygen to the brain. It is a natural painkiller and even improves the immune system. Not to mention that laughter increases our mood- the more we laugh, the happier we are. Use the happy pup as inspiration and find something to laugh at, or someone to laugh with, any chance you can.
You may already be doing some of these without even realizing how great they are for your health, but now it may be more clear as to why these small healthy actions can make a big difference in your mind and body. Health doesn’t have to be a journey you tackle all at once. Instead, see it as a series of small steps that, when connected, can get you far.
Remember, Texas Walks is taking place on November 8. Texans all across our state will be walking together around their neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools – wherever they happen to be. This 10-minute event is a reminder that health is something we can all make time for. We really hope you’ll join us.
About the Author
Kat Shumaker is a sophomore at UT Austin studying Communication and Leadership with a focus in Health Education. As an intern with It’s Time Texas, she aims to help build a culture of health through her words and actions, and believes living healthier is achievable for everyone.