As we enter 2021, I know that SO many of us have made a commitment to improve our mental and physical health for good. Here are 8 health principles that I learned about back in 2016 when I started my own journey. I hope these pearls will stand you in good stead as you make some amazing lifestyle changes!
Nutrition – What are you eating?
What you fuel your body with has a huge impact on your health and wellness! Aim to eat a diet rich in whole foods packed full of nutrients and vitamins. This includes loads of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and lean sources of protein. It will give you the energy you need, and fuel your brain and every cell in the body.
Limit processed, packaged and sugary foods which are addictive and give little to no health benefits. Reserve these for occasions.
Exercise – How much do you move?
Your body was made to move! Aim to get 45 minutes of moderate-intense exercise 3 times a week, and don’t forget to include some strength training too! This will help to keep your heart, bones, joints and muscles strong and healthy. Exercise can take on many forms from dancing, biking, running, swimming, hiking. Anything that gets you sweating and your heart pumping is right on track, so find something you enjoy. Planning your exercise sessions at the start of the week will also make it more likely for you to commit to doing them.
Avoid living a sedentary lifestyle. Move around during the day by using the stairs instead of the lift and walk when you can. It makes a huge difference to your fitness.
Water – What are you drinking?
Did you know your body is made up of over 70% of water? Every cell in your body requires water to function, push our toxins and survive. Make sure you make water your beverage of choice! Aim for 2L per day and increase/decrease depending on how active you are or how thirsty you are. It is hydrating, keeps your skin looking young and is essential for concentration and optimal bowel function.
Swap out fizzy drinks for flavoured water or teas, and keep a bottle of water in your bag each day to encourage you to hydrate yourself.
Sunlight – Are you getting enough shine?
Sunlight has a positive impact on mood and also helps to increase vitamin D absorption which is necessary for total health and energy. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that hits many during the darker winter months when the number of sunlight hours decrease. It can lead to low mood, feelings of hopelessness, fatigue and little pleasure in doing things you usually enjoy. For those of us who live in more temperate climates this can be difficult, but do try to take advantage of those sunny days as much as you can when they present themselves!
Avoid spending days at a time indoors without going into nature and getting some sunlight.
Temperance – Do you practice self-control?
Too much of any good thing can become a bad thing. We can become too zealous about eating healthy and exercising that we put the body under unnecessary strain or we can become so lazy and nonchalant that our health suffers due to neglect. Aim to do all things in moderation whilst you seek to jump-start your health and fitness journey.
Don’t be indulgent, but also don’t be overly restrictive. Seek to strike a healthy balance in life in order to maintain internal peace and tranquillity.
Air – How much fresh air are you getting?
Fresh air is essential for clear thinking and de-stressing the mind which is full of many thoughts. Schedule in some time outdoors each day. It will help to boost mood, give you a break and bring some mental clarity. If that’s not possible, keep a window open near your desk or in your house or sit in the garden for 5 minutes with a cup of tea.
Avoid spending days at a time indoors without going into nature and getting some fresh air.
Rest – How much are you resting?
Our bodies were made to work, but they were also made to rest. God rested on the 7th day, and so it is a blessing for us to follow his lead and be intentional about resting too. Rest can take on many forms including sleep, taking a day off work, and limiting use of technology. Don’t overwork yourself. Your body requires rest to recover and grow stronger.
Avoid pulling all-nighter if you can, aim to get a solid 8hrs of sleep most nights, and build in the habit of a Sabbath rest into your weekly routine.
Trust in God – Where have you placed your trust?
As much as we can make changes and be proactive about living a healthy lifestyle, we are limited. We are not in total control, God is. Cast your health worries and concerns onto the lap of God. He holds your life and health in his hands. Relinquish control and let him guide you each step of the way. He will give you joy and peace as you seek to honour him in your every habit.