11 Things Everyone Should Be Doing To Take Better Care Of Themselves
"Taking care of ourselves" often invokes images of grueling gym sessions and flavorless wheat grass smoothies. But what so many of us don't realize is that there are simple ways to take care of ourselves that require minimal effort, yet reap huge longterm benefits.
The fact of the matter is, most of us just don't have the time or the energy to be flawless health robots who never eat a grain of processed sugar and who carve out an hour and a half of exercise time every single day of our lives. For most, of us, just getting in our daily vegetable requirements is kind of victory.
Which is why I always advocate incorporating small, yet achievable health tips into my daily routine as opposed to convincing myself I'm going to stick to some super restrictive huge life overhaul. In my experience, the extreme measures never stick, and I probably would have been better off not trying them in the first place.
If you're interested in doing more for yourself and your body on a daily basis, but you know that realistically you're not about to restructure your entire life around it, here are 11 super simple tips that you can do every day that will make a big difference.
1. Floss (Like, Really Floss)
Oral B Dental Floss, $2.79, Drugstore.com
This first tip might seem insanely boring, but you should absolutely floss every day. In a piece for Heathline, Dr. Ann Laurent, owner of a dental practice in Lafayette, Louisiana, even went as far as to recommend skipping brushing over flossing if you have to skip one, noting that flossing does a great deal to remove plaque buildup, which can cause gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
2. Wear Sunscreen
Shiseido, $34, Sephora.com
According to SkinCancer.org, more cases of skin cancer are detected every year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. And if that's not enough to scare you, according to a study sited in The Daily Mail, a whopping 80 percent of wrinkles on our skin are due to sun exposure. My personal tip is to just make sure you foundation or BB cream comes equipped with SPF protection — then you don't even have to think about it.
3. Stretch Every Day
According to wellness expert Peggy Hall in a piece for Self, stretching, "increases your blood flow and circulation for a healthier body and sends oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind and sunnier moods." I always find a good morning stretch works miracles in helping me feel limber and alert.
4. Ban Your Phone Before Bed
Psychologist Shelby Freedman Harris recommended avoiding the bright lights of TVs, phones, and tablets for up to a full hour before bed on a piece about shutting off your brain for The Huffington Post. All the lights "can make your brain think it's still daytime," and instead she recommended simply reading or journaling. I personally find it impossible to no use my phone for a full hour before bed, so I compromise by banning my phone once I'm physically in bed.
5. And Ban Your Phone In The Morning Too
According to social psychologist Dr. Ron Friedman in a piece for Psychology Today, when we spend the first minutes of our day checking emails and social media, we're instantly put in a "reactive" state, meaning that we're responding defensively to outside stimuli. Friedman recommended taking the first ten minutes of each day to just sit with yourself and find a place of center before engaging with the world.
6. Watch Your Caffeine Intake
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine as early as six hours before bed (and that includes sodas and many teas!) has "important disruptive effects" on our sleep patterns. And don't panic just yet coffee lovers: if you go to bed at 10 p.m., that still means you can be drinking your favorite beverage up until 4 p.m.
7. Use An Exfoliant
Aqua Glycolic Face Cream, $23,99, Drugstore.com
According to skin care expert Paula Begoun on her website, regular exfoliation is crazy good for our skin, but most people over-exfoliate or use a product that is way too harsh, which actually yields negative results. Instead of a physical exfoliant (which is one that has little beads or crystals that you physically rub onto your skin), Begoun recommended a daily chemical exfoliant lotion that gently sloughs off dead skin cells without rubbing or irritation.
8. Get Some Sun
According to Dr. Mariana Figueiro, program director of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center, in a piece for Prevention, getting about 30 minutes of sunlight every morning helps keep our circadian rhythms on schedule, meaning we won't end up feeling sleep deprived. Try eating breakfast by a window, or walk to work if you can!
9. Invest In The Right Shampoo And Conditioner
Color Safe Shampoo, $15, esalon.com
This is a personal tip that I learned the hard way: if you have color treated hair, invest in quality shampoo and conditioners designed for your hair situation. It not only helps the color to last longer, but a quality conditioner and even weekly conditioning mask prevents your hair from looking brittle and damaged.
10. Waiting To Blow Dry Your Hair
According to Redken celebrity stylist Rodney Cutler in a piece for Marie Claire, your hair should be 60 to 65 percent dry before you begin blowdrying. Otherwise you'll be exposing your hair to damaging heat way longer than needed, which will make it look worse in the long run.
11. Try The 'One Salad A Day' Rule
In a piece on small diet changes for healthier bodies for Shape, celebrity yoga instructor and creator of Yogalosophy Mandy Ingber recommended simply replacing one meal with a hearty salad every single day, no ifs, ands, or buts. "Replace your lunchtime meal with a large salad loaded with healthy greens," she said. "If you are a meat-eater, add some lean protein. Load your salad with avocado, nuts, and all sorts of veggies that add color to your meal."
Taking better care of ourselves doesn't have to be an ordeal. It can be as simple as a few super fast additions to your routine that will yield incredibly positive long-term results.
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