Our lives are punctuated with many little habits which we indulge in, sometimes without even being aware of them. Over a lifetime, these same habits can be a source of health and wellness, or they can affect us negatively. That’s the power of habit.

habitsHere are some simple, new ideas to help you develop good habits to ensure a long, healthy and productive life.

  1. Get enough sleep

Sleep is good for you. Between seven and nine hours every night is recommended. It helps you deal with stress and banishes those bags under the eye. Leave all-night parties to others.

  1. Stand at a standing desk

From way back in our schooling days, we have been conditioned to sit at a desk. Sitting at your desk every day puts recurring pressure on the base of your spine, leading to chronic back pain and, in extreme cases, herniated disks. Switch to an adjustable standing desk and stand for at least half of your workday. If you can’t afford an adjustable desk, use a large board and a few bricks. Your back will thank you.

  1. Exercise three times a week

Yes, exercise! Regular exercise can burn fat and build muscle as well as minimise stress, anxiety, and depression. Get your heart pumping and produce a healthy sweat at least three times a week.

  1. Eat veggies

Condition your mind to like veggies. Eat lots of them. Try them in salads, omelettes, soups or stews. Veggies are cheaper than meat, but they fill you up all the same. And they are a good source of roughage – which is good for your tummy!

  1. Wake up earlier

Go to bed earlier and get up earlier. You will have more time to do what you need to do, with the added bonus that you will be relaxed and refreshed at the same time.

  1. Meditate

Meditation has significant benefits for your health. It can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and help you sleep more soundly. (That sleep thing again!) Meditation only takes 10 minutes per day. There are lots of online sites to get you started.

  1. Get a new pillow

See how important sleep is — we’re mentioning it again! All the dribbles, dead skin cells and goodness knows what else ends up in your pillow. Change your pillow at least every two years. And change the pillowcases every week.

  1. Move healthy snacks to the middle shelf of your fridge

Back to the fruit and veggies. Put these healthier options on the middle shelf of your fridge, so you’re more likely to notice them — and thus choose to eat them.

  1. Eat chocolate

Research says that chocolate is good for us. Life is hard enough, so spoil yourself with a little choccy, from time to time.

  1. Get fresh air

Spending time outdoors will revitalise your approach to life and work. At work, find a balcony. Or go to the park at lunchtime. Getting outside changes your perspective and inspires you.

  1. Take the stairs

You knew this was coming. It’s a really simple way to make your lifestyle healthier. Even if you are on the top floor. Climbing stairs – up or down – improves your circulation, it’s cheaper than a gym membership, and you’ll be more than ready for that cup of coffee when you get to your floor.

  1. Increase your water intake

Drink eight glasses of water per day. Drinking water can make your skin glow, your hair shine, and make you feel amazing by boosting energy levels and banishing hunger pangs. Put a jug of water on your desk and make sure you finish it by the end of the day. More water, more sleep and more veggies are a powerful health combination.

  1. Slash your food intake

Food is nice, but too much is not good. Cut down on portions, and when all else fails, pig out on the veggies. It will work.

  1. Shop for groceries on a full tummy

Don’t go food shopping on an empty stomach. You will come home with extra ham, pickles, Danish pastries, and chocolate biscuits when all you needed was a few eggs and a bottle of milk.

  1. Bring lunch to work

Remember, you are now getting up earlier, you can take some extra time to make a healthy lunch for work. It’s healthier and cheaper, and you will know exactly what you are eating. No fatty oils, no processed foods, or high-salt additives. Your colleagues will envy your tasty lunches.

  1. Eat breakfast

You know this. Just do it. A good breakfast with some protein will set you up for a productive day and stop you from grabbing snacks out of the vending machine in reception.

  1. Have more sex

You know what we mean. It’s a great way to feel good and to burn calories. Let’s just leave it there.

  1. Unplug

Find time, at least once a week, to unplug from all your devices and all your social media. Apart from reducing your FOMO, it will improve your posture, slash your stress, fix your insomnia, boost your self-esteem, and make you more empathetic, focused, and creative.

  1. Eat without distractions

Don’t multitask when you eat your meals – at work and home. Don’t read reports or scroll your phone. Give your full attention to your eating experience: recognise your hunger and fullness cues, notice your emotions, observing the aromas, flavours, and textures of the foods. This will help you to slow down, eat less, and enjoy your food.

  1. Breathe into your belly

When we are under stress, we tend to breathe shallower and faster. This starves us of life-giving oxygen. Try breathing deeply into your belly for just 5 to 10 minutes a day to lower blood pressure, slow the ageing process, and improve mental focus and sleep quality.

  1. Don’t sit still

Sitting at a desk or standing at a counter all day can leave you feeling stiff with pain in your lower back, neck, shoulders, or feet. Talk regular walk breaks. Go to the bathroom, or chat with a colleague on the other side of the office instead of texting. You will feel much better when you come back.

  1. Learn something new

The connections between the millions of nerve cells in our brains are capable of multiplying and growing stronger as we age, but only if we keep challenging them with new information. So, aspire to learn something new: Learn a new language, take an online course, take up woodwork or embroidery. Start exercising that muscle in your head!

  1. Laugh it off

Our best moments in life are marked by laughter, humour and fun. No one can dispute the incredible health benefits of laughter. It’s one of nature’s best medicines for both mental and physical health. Watch a funny movie, hang out with friends who make you laugh, practice telling bad jokes.

Some of these ideas may not be new to you. Take an inventory of new healthy habits you would like to develop and set about embracing them with enthusiasm and determination.

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