11 Small Changes You Can Make For A Big Difference In Your Health
When it comes to getting healthier, we often think of drastic changes such as cutting all gluten from our diet or going to the gym every single day. However, improving our wellness doesn't have to be so extreme, and you can make a number of small changes that can have a large impact on your health. Whether you're trying to eat healthier, get in shape, or even just improve your mood, you don't have to overhaul your whole life to attain the type of health you desire.
"Often we shy away from making changes because we are trying too hard — the commitment can be so big, that we might skip it altogether," says Yulia Sauter, mental health professional and founder of online wellness community Mind with Matter over email. "It can be hard to fit a 60 minute workout in your schedule every single day, or to go to bed earlier all the time. Life gets in the way, and small steps are definitely the answer. It’s not a about perfection but instead trying to integrate little things into our daily routine that can help us feel better, physically and mentally."
If you want to make a difference in your health, but don't want to do anything too drastic, try these 11 small changes you can make that will benefit your overall wellbeing.
1. Drinking More Water
Staying hydrated can improve many aspects of your health, including your digestion, your mood, and even your energy levels, according to multiple studies. "A high daily intake of water (five or more glasses), compared to a low daily intake of water (two or fewer glasses), is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease deaths," says cardiologist Jason Guichard over email.
2. Put On Sunscreen
Lathering on the SPF isn't something that should just be done in the summer. If you are outside all year long, it's still important to wear protection. "UV rays are an issue all year — see all the skiers with sunburn — and no matter the type of weather (up to 80% of UV rays penetrate clouds)," says co-founder of non-toxic skincare line Block Island Organics over email. "Also, UV rays reflect off ice and snow giving, a double dose in the winter."
3. Cut Down On Sugar
We all know sugar is bad for you, but it can be a tough one to give up. "Sugar has been linked to inflammation in our whole body, which can lower our immune-system, and make it easier for us to feel tired," says Sauter. "Cutting down sugar will make you feel more energized — physically and mentally. Try using bananas as a sweetener for you baking, and always try eating some fruit first if a craving hits you. Drinking a big glass of water first, can help as well to bring down the desire for sugar."
4. Stand Up At Your Desk
Sitting all day long is one of the worst things we can do for our health: it's bad for your muscles, your heart, your back, and even your brain, according to The Washington Post. Consider standing up at your desk for part of the work day, or take frequent walking breaks to get your heart pumping and your legs moving.
5. Add In Some Greens
"Whether it be in a smoothie, on a wrap, or as a salad, adding greens is the easiest way to optimize your nutrition and flood your body with nutrients and fiber," says Lisa Hayim, founder of The Well Necessities over email. Multiple studies show that consuming vegetables daily, including leafy greens, can greatly lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
6. Drink Your Coffee Black
Instead of loading your coffee with cream and sugar, opt for it plain instead. Loaded up with flavors and sweeteners, your morning cup of coffee turns into more of a dessert, but if you drink it plain, or with a little bit of cinnamon or almond milk, you can reap the many benefits of the health-boosting drink.
7. Include More Probiotics
Whether you decide to take a daily supplement or you choose to include more fermented foods into your diet, make an effort to up your intake of probiotics. "Maintaining a healthy balance of 'good' gut bacteria in the digestive tract is critical to overall health and well-being," says Rene Ficek, RD, Lead Dietician Nutritionist for Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating over email. "Help the good bugs out by including yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, bananas, garlic, asparagus, and onions on a daily basis."
8. Swap Out Refined Grains For Whole Grains
Start off healthy your eating habits by ditching refined carbs. "In addition to all those extra nutrients, you’ll be getting your daily recommended intake of fiber – which helps to keep us full," says Rebecca Lewis, RD at HelloFresh over email. "Do this with your breads, pastas, crackers, tortillas. Swap white rice in favor of brown rice instead."
9. Shut Off Your Phone Before Bed
"Another small change when done consistently that has a huge impact is shutting down technology at a specific time to promote a good night's sleep," says wellness professional Marjorie Nass over email. "The light emitted from phones, televisions, computers and tablets interfere with the body's circadian rhythms. Having a time (even setting an alarm) to turn screens off will help us regularly get a better night's sleep."
10. Add Sprouted Foods To Your Diet
"Some of the nutritional value of seeds, nuts, and legumes are 'locked up' by anti-nutrients and are difficult to digest and absorbed by the human body until it sprouts," says certified nutritionist and holistic health Marra St. Clair over email. "You can buy alfalfa, mung bean, or radish sprouts easily at the grocery store, or you can soak seeds, nuts and legumes to cause them to sprout."
11. Learn Something New
"Learning new information or a new skill actually stimulates areas of the brain that are not being used," says Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC over email. Teach yourself a few words of a new language everyday or spend time reading to keep your brain active.
Little changes can add up, and the best part is, eventually they'll just become part of your daily habits.
Images: Pixabay (12); Isla Murray/Bustle