These tiny tweaks to your daily routine can make all the difference in how you look and feel.
Let’s be real. Being healthy all the time sounds kinda time-consuming. Your life is busy enough. On the other hand, we all deserve to feel good, amirite? We went to the experts to get simple, actionable, everyday to-dos that will keep you feeling and looking energized, fabulous, and all-around healthier.
1. Find one small way to add more steps to your day.
We sit too much, says Martha Gulati, MD, editor-in-chief of the American College of Cardiology's CardioSmart. Get closer to your 10,000 daily steps by switching up just one daily routine: Park at the end of the office parking lot, get off the bus/subway one stop earlier and walk the distance, deliver a message in person rather than IMing a coworker, or take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator (even if you can only manage 1-2 floors on foot). Be active as much as possible.
2. Take the earbuds out—for just 5 minute at least.
Pure Yoga instructor Alison O’Connor believes in spending time alone every day. “Taking a few minutes for yourself—away from social media, work, entertainment, and anyone who demands something from you—can go a long way toward mental health.” Ditch technology and make you your priority.
3. Go to bed. Now.
“Sleep is one of the most essential activities of the human body. It's while we sleep that our body is most efficient at recovering and healing itself,” says O’Connor. Brooklyn-based nutritionist Julie Fishkin adds that most adults need at least 7-8 hours in order to stave off depression and keep stress hormones at bay, preventing you from overeating and succumbing to sugar cravings.
4. Refill your water bottle.
Most of us don’t drink enough fluids (and no, wine doesn't count—the alcohol is dehydrating). Water helps your skin look fresh, it flushes your bodies of toxins, helps maintain healthy bowel functions (goodbye bloat, hello flatter belly), and keeps muscles from getting fatigued. If you don't already own one, invest in a cute reusable water bottle you'll want to show off on the way to the water cooler or kitchen.
5. Take a few deep breaths before you look at your phone.
Really, you can attach 60 seconds of deep breathing to any other daily habit that's already part of your routine. According to Dr. Gulati, remembering to pause periodically and spend one full minute focused on deep breathing and positive energy can help you cope better with stress.
6. Wear something you love.
Feeling confident and happy can come from knowing you look good, says Forever Freckled stylist Carrie Greenberg. "Fall in love with your wardrobe again by re-purposing and dust off classic pieces, and consider investing in some great new accessories.” Make it a point to wear something that makes you feel fantastic every single day.
7. Turn on the oven. Or the stove. Or at least the microwave.
Home-cooked meals are more than a way to express your creativity and save money (vs takeout or restaurant fare), says New York-based personal chef and fitness instructor Alyssa Gagarin. “Only by cooking your own food can you be sure you’re eating real, whole, unprocessed foods," says Gagarin. "It gives you full control over what’s going into your body.” Load up on fruits, veggies, whole grains, eggs, meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, and legumes—and stop eating once you are full.
8. Deliberately choose a healthy ingredient.
Even if you aren’t able to prepare your own meal/s, Dr. Gulati suggests mindfully choosing at least one healthy meal or snack a day that is healthy. Reach for the banana in the office fruit bowl, or add one more veggie to your chicken ceasar salad (grape tomatoes and asparagus are two yummy options). “One simple thing a day that is good for you can, over time, prove you have the power to take action and be healthier.”
9. Pay attention to your needs.
Any number of things might make us feel healthier, one minute to the next. That’s why Ellen Friedrichs, a Brooklyn-based health and sexuality educator, says we need to assess our needs, moment to moment. “Figuring out what is going to help you feel the most balanced, and the least stressed, is the best way to get on top of your physical and mental health.”
10. Tell the truth. (Even when it hurts a little.)
“Acting with integrity—where all of your words and actions align with your core beliefs—brings peace of mind and a sense of freedom,” says O’Connor. This may seem challenging, but she believes that lying or ignoring your principles could make you sick, both mentally and physically. “Living an integrated life will give you a great sense of personal satisfaction that you are living your best, most honest, most authentic life.”