While New Year’s is traditionally the time for resolutions – Spring is really the best time for a change. It’s a time of rebirth and renewal; and is also painfully close to bathing suit season. Here are some small changes that go a long way in terms of better health and a better life.
Drink like a fish
No, not wine – water. Most people assume they are getting the recommended 8-11 glasses a day but many fall short. You should also be aiming for the higher end of the spectrum if you are active or if you are spending time outdoors. If you don’t like the taste of plain water you can add sliced fruit to it to give it some kick. Great flavour combinations include sliced strawberries & fresh sweet basil leaves or sliced cucumber & fresh mint. Remember the human body needs a lot of water to function properly so chug away.
Practice being mindful
A great way to ensure your mental health is the practice of being mindful. Essentially, being mindful encourages you to be present in the moment and be deliberately aware of everything around you. The hope is that focus on the present will reduce worry about the future and discourage rumination of the past. It is also helpful during panic or anxiety attacks as it can centre your brain when it may be racing. Mindfulness in addition to meditation can have a powerful effect on brain capacity and function and has even been known to decrease blood pressure and strengthen immune system response. Both are free and can be done just about anywhere. A better brain is only a few deep breaths away.
Walk it out
Walk with your dog. Walk with your spouse. Walk with yourself. Just Walk! As a low-impact exercise that requires little more than a good pair of shoes, walking is a great way to stay healthy. Walking in nature, in particular, has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and chronic stress. Edmonton’s River Valley has some of the best nature trails in the city and even staircases to climb if you are up for a challenge. Your body will thank you for all that hard work- after it punishes you for a few days.
Sleep seems to always slip to the bottom of the priority list, and yet it is in an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Getting restful sleep can be challenging in our world and technology isn’t helping. Falling asleep to the warm glow of your devices disrupts the normal wave of sleep cycles and prevents the body from properly producing Melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep/wake rhythm. In fact, any light in your bedroom can wreak havoc on your sleep. One solution is to install black out blinds that effectively block any light from entering your room. Regulating the temperature of your room is important too. It can’t be too hot, or too cold- it has to be just right. Finding that optimal temperature takes some time but once it is reached, it makes sense to program your thermostat to drop to the “sleep zone” while you prepare for bed. Tuck yourself in early tonight and treat yourself to the restorative power of sleep. You will feel the difference in the morning.