The Ultimate List of Habits You Should Be Doing Every Day
Shaking up your daily routine and kicking bad habits can help you feel energized, declutter your life and maintain overall good health. But it doesn't mean you have to overhaul your entire life. Adopting just a few positive lifestyle changes can make a big difference and not only put you in a great place mentally, but physically as well. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who explain what daily health habits you should be doing and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Read Nutrition Labels
Dr. Nicole Harkin, Preventive Cardiologist and Founder of Whole Heart Cardiology reminds us to read all the ingredients in food before purchasing. While it's a good idea to focus on eating as much unprocessed, whole foods as possible, packaged food is often unavoidable. Learning to distinguish which packaged foods are ultra-processed, which is linked to heart disease, is huge. When you do reach for processed foods, try to stick with foods that are made with whole grains (the first ingredient should begin with "whole"), nuts, and seeds and limit heavily refined products. Make a habit of studying the nutrition label. Things to keep an eye on include added sugar (a woman's daily limit is 6 teaspoons or 25 grams per day!), salt, and saturated fat (even from sources like coconut oil). On the other hand, you want your foods to be high in fiber, omega-3s, protein, as well as vitamins and minerals such as potassium."
Spend Time in Nature
Dr. Harkin says, "Many of us are aware that spending time in nature has been shown to improve mood, relieve stress and anxiety, and decrease fatigue. However, several studies have also found a positive association with time spent in nature and improved cardiovascular health. Individuals who have access to greenspaces have lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), blood pressure, and heart rate – all of which likely translate to lower risk of heart disease. If possible, aim to get your exercise outside, whether it's a family hike, walk, or jog. Other outdoor activities like sitting on the beach watching the waves, meditation in the park, or forest bathing may also provide benefits."
Drink More Water
Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics emphasizes, "Our bodies are composed of 60% water, therefore it's important to drink plenty of water each and every day. Yet, many people struggle to drink the recommended amount of water each day. Staying well- hydrated can help keep you focused, improve your mental and physical performance, and reduce fatigue.
- If you find yourself not drinking enough, consider setting a water alarm on your phone or on your work computer each hour to remind yourself to drink.
- Consider placing water bottles, or cups in your line of vision. Place a cup of water at your nightstand so you drink 1-2 cups when you wake up, or leave a few bottles of water in your car if you tend to commute to work.
- Place a cup or bottles at your work desk if you tend to work in front of a computer or at a desk each day.
- Don't like the taste of water?
- Try adding citrus like lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit slices to your water bottle.
- There's plenty of bubbly sparkling water now available on the grocery store shelf.
- Or there's also flavored water you could drink or drops you could add to your water to make yourself drink more.
- Try it at different temperatures, maybe you prefer to drink your water cold, so keep it in the fridge or have ice cubes readily available
- Maybe you prefer hot beverages, so you could consume a variety of herbal teas throughout the day to stay hydrated like peach tea, lemon tea, or ginger tea.
- Eat more water packed foods like fruits and veggies. Some fruits and veggies contain up to 92% water.
- Or consume a broth-based soup like a chicken noodle soup or veggie soup or even consume a big salad with plenty of greens and a variety of veggies."
Decluttering Old Mail
Gabby Martin, supervisor at Bio Recovery says, "It may sound like just another thing to do, but decluttering old mail has great mental health benefits. Decluttering has been known to boost mood and mental clarity and throwing out old mail reduces the amount of physical space your mail occupies. I recommend doing this at least every month (or every other week, if you get a lot of mail). The more consistent you are, the less you'll have to declutter!"
Making Your Bed
Martin states, "One of the most underlooked cleaning routines is making the bed. It sounds corny, but not only does making your bed make it look aesthetically cleaner, it also boosts productivity and positivity. It's the simple act of making the bed in the morning that makes you more ready to tackle the day."
Eating Low Sodium Foods
Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience says, "Sodium is in more foods than we realize. In the U.S., we tend to eat over 1,000 mg more sodium every day than our body needs. One of the biggest culprits of excess sodium is processed foods. High sodium content can make packaged foods taste better and last longer. Restaurants are guilty of adding sodium, too. However, cooking at home and relying on fresh herbs and spices is an excellent way to cut back on salt and reduce your hypertension and heart disease risk."
Have a Good Skin Care Routine
Dr. Karan Lal of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Hackensack, NJ shares, "The skin is the largest organ of your body. It is for this reason it requires daily maintenance. Just like working out our muscles, we need to work out our skin cells. The essentials of a basic skin care regimen include: sunscreen, gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and a topical retinoid. Sunscreen is known to prevent and reduce skin cancer. As a side effect it also reduces your risk of developing sun damage that contributes to photoaging. A broad spectrum SPF 30+ daily to the face and neck is a must. Not everyone needs to exfoliate but everyone should use a gentle cleanser. Gentle cleansers remove oil, dirt, and debris from your skin. This also allows products to absorb into your skin better. Our skin loses moisture everyday. It's important to restore some of that moisture. Using a moisturizer will help keep your skin nice and soft. Lastly, a topical retinoid for your face and neck is the secret to favorable aging. Retinoids stimulate collagen production, lighten brown spots, and increase cell turnover. Using a small amount of a topical retinoid 3-7x a week can reduce your risk of developing fine lines, and crepey skin. This is a BASIC skincare routine suitable for all skin types."
Spread Out Your Protein
Ehsani explains, "Many people tend to eat small amounts of protein throughout the day, then a big portion at dinner time, but try to spread out your intake of protein rich foods throughout the day. Spreading it out throughout the day, will be better absorbed by your body, and will keep you feeling full and more satisfied too. You might find yourself less likely to overeat at meal times and less likely to snack in between meals too. Add nuts or seeds to your breakfast oats or smoothie, then add some beans or lentils to your salad at lunchtime, then have a yogurt or bean-based dip like hummus or black bean salsa at snack time as a way to consume more protein at each meal."
Put More Color on Your Plate
According to Ehsani, "Fruits and veggies are one of the most nutrient packed foods, yet over 90% of Americans aren't consuming the recommended daily amount. Fruits and veggies are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber, which our bodies need each and every day to stay healthy and feel our best. Try to add one fruit or veggie into each meal or snack, to bump up your overall daily intake. If you enjoy eating eggs for breakfast, consider sautéing some spinach or tomato slices into your scrambled egg. If you prefer to have a sandwich, be sure to add some greens, cucumber slices, and/or sprouts into your bread slices. Instead of just having one veggie on your plate at dinner time, have at least 2-3, to get a variety of nutrients."
According to Marchese, "Snacking between meals can seem like an easy way to pack on extra calories, but in reality, it's a great way to cut down on overeating at mealtime. Of course, your choice of snack is essential. Avoid salty and fatty snacks, and instead, rely on low-carb munchies like vegetables and hummus or grapes between breakfast and lunch. Make sure you're not starving before dinner and won't eat a huge meal before bedtime."
"Most of us are quite sedentary throughout the day, as we are working in front of a computer or sitting at a desk for a majority of the day," says Ehsani. "Then once our work day is done, we are likely sitting in our car driving home, then sitting on the couch the rest of the night. Therefore, we end up staying mostly sedentary, and aren't moving enough throughout the day.
Ways to get more active:
– A lot of smart watches have the ability to remind you to get up each hour or set an alert to move more.
– Find activities that you enjoy doing! This is really important. Some people think they need to be on an elliptical or treadmill for 30-minutes each day to stay active and do exercise, but finding an a but finding an activity or exercise you actually enjoy doing will help you stick to it, do it more frequently and do it longer.
– Brainstorm activities you enjoyed doing as a child such as biking or playing a sport on a team. Maybe you could do these activities now too.
– Don't feel like you have time? Spread out your exercise throughout the day. Consider doing a 15-minute brisk walk before work, then another 15-minutes at your lunch break, then another 15- minutes after work."