While massive lifestyle changes can certainly be beneficial to your health, it’s the small changes that often make the biggest impact. Because they’re so much easier to implement — and therefore tend to result in fewer feelings of failure or self-loathing — minor lifestyle changes may even bring a more positive outcome than the broad, sweeping ones. In other words, you don’t have to completely overhaul your life to feel better about yourself mentally or physically! Here are some attainable changes to make to boost your health and well-being.
- Try a Low-FODMAP Diet — Tummy troubles holding you back? You might be one of the many people out there with undiagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Shockingly, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of Americans have IBS, making it the most prevalent of all functional gastrointestinal disorders. This frustrating condition causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, gas and bloating, but making dietary changes and following a specific IBS diet plan has proven to be massively beneficial to those with the condition. The low-FODMAP meal plan is particularly useful because it eliminates many of the most common IBS triggers.
- Set Weekday (or ‘Off Day’) Boundaries — If you struggle from indulging a bit too much and find that overeating, overdrinking or oversleeping have negatively impacted your health, consider setting boundaries for when you allow yourself to indulge. For example, you may find that limiting your alcohol or takeout consumption to twice a week can help you reduce overdoing it on the whole. Many people, especially those with a traditional work schedule, find that eating and drinking clean on the weekdays makes them feel less guilty when indulging a bit on the weekends. However, that’s not the case for everyone. You may find that this schedule just encourages you to binge on the weekends, so spreading indulgence out throughout the week — focusing on moderation, of course — can work well, too.
- Set a Bedtime, No Screens Allowed — Your sleep habits have an overwhelming impact on your overall health, from the way you perform at work to the way your body processes stress and manages immunity. One simple thing you can do to improve sleep is to set a nightly bedtime and follow it. The catch? You want to try to hit the hay without your phone. By now, you probably already know that the blue light emitting from your devices can mess with your circadian rhythms and disrupt sleep, so do your best to put the phone down at least an hour before you settle in for sleep.
- Get at Least a Little Exercise Every Day — We know it sounds obvious, but exercise is right up there with sleep on the list of feel-good daily essentials for general wellness. You should aim for at least 2.5 hours of heart-pumping exercise per week, says the American Heart Association. But if you really want to improve the way you feel about yourself, you want to take it a step further and try to get some form of exercise each and every day, even if it’s a leisurely stroll around the block or a restorative yoga session.
- Spend Part of the Day Outside — Do you ever feel a boost in energy levels and mood when you’ve spent a bit of extra time outside? It’s not a coincidence. Fresh air and sunlight have the unique ability to enhance feelings of happiness and well-being. For this reason, many people suffer from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which causes feelings of depression and anxiety in the winter months. However, even spending time outside in the cold can help regulate your mood!
- Get in the Habit of Logging Health Data — One super easy way to feel healthier is to track everything — workouts, what you eat, how you feel and any other health data. These days, there are convenient and useful health trackers in our back pockets all the time and most phones even come standard with them. Tracking your data can help you figure out what you’re doing well and identify which areas need improvement. The key is to be as honest as possible, tracking on good days and bad.
- Make More Room for Friends — Did you know that socializing with friends can have a positive impact on your health? Yep, the experts say that forging great friendships can help lower stress levels and improve your mood, which can result in positive long-term health outcomes. Adults need to set aside time to spend with non-familial friends in order to forge a sense of belonging and build up high self-esteem. If you feel lonely or are struggling to make friends in adulthood, don’t stress — this is common! Using services such as MeetUp or Bumble BFF can help you make strong platonic connections in the digital age. Just remember to make it a priority, since it’s for your health.
- Find Healthy Ways to Manage Stress — We understand now more than ever that stress has a huge influence on our overall health. In fact, it’s said to have an effect on everything from asthma and high blood pressure to irritable bowel syndrome. Finding healthy ways to manage your stress is crucial to a thriving, happy life. Whether that be practicing yoga and mindfulness meditation, taking a trip with friends or spending a few hours per week playing video games, the results can be equally as beneficial as long as they help reduce stress levels.
As you can see, making minor changes to your lifestyle can have a massive impact on your well-being. Remember: Small adjustments add up, and the results — a longer, happier life — are so worth it! The key is to prioritize yourself and the process of enhancing your lifestyle. If you can do that, you’ll see amazing results in a short period of time!