The world has changed dramatically over the last year, and for most of us, it’s narrowed – we’re travelling less, we’re seeing fewer people, and we’re spending more time at home. And while there are certainly downsides to a global pandemic, there are positives too: this narrowed focus has given us the opportunity to really examine our lives and make changes for the better. Most of us have had to adopt a simpler life, which means less stress and more emphasis on what we really care about, like our health.
We’ve also become more aware that staying healthy is more valuable now than ever, and many medical aids like Fedhealth offer screening benefits where they pay for things like cardiac health screenings, women’s health screenings and other general health assessments.
So, in the spirit of simpler, healthier living, here are five small ways to keep you in optimal health:
- Breathe consciously
The simple act of paying attention to your breath can have profound effects on your health. Various studies have found that pranayama, the ancient practice of controlling the inhalation and exhalation of your breath, can result in lower stress, increased mindfulness, improved lung function and better cognitive performance. Even doing pranayama for just a few minutes a day – perhaps when you wake up or before you go to sleep – can help strengthen the connection between body and mind.
- Go to bed earlier
Sleep specialists are now realising that it’s not just about getting enough sleep – it’s also about when you go to bed that counts. Research shows that going to bed earlier means you get a better quality of sleep, which can result in several benefits such as improved concentration, better decision-making skills and a stronger immune system. With less socialising on the cards these days, going to bed should be easier – and it allows you to wake up earlier and with more energy too.
- Start your day with lemon in hot water
The humble lemon is full of health benefits: it’s packed with vitamin C and is a powerful antioxidant, making it a simple and accessible way to boost your immune system and fight infections. Lemons also contain plant compounds called flavinoids, which have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. And although lemons are acidic, when they are metabolised they can have an alkalinising effect on your system, which many health practitioners advocate as a key ingredient to maintaining overall health.
- Just say no
Many health issues stem from stress, which is often the result of feeling overwhelmed or overextended. Creating better boundaries by learning to say no more often is a way of counteracting this. You may have face your fears of disappointing others, but doing this is a way of regaining balance in your life, which will benefit your physical health too. Also remember that having good personal boundaries means you’re being more respectful and allowing more energy for the obligations to others that you already do have in your life.
- Use food over supplements
These days, there’s a nutritional supplement for almost anything you can think of, from vitamins and mineral tablets to amino acids and omega-3 fatty acid capsules. But any supplements you choose to take shouldn’t substitute a good diet of fresh, whole foods. Our body is naturally geared to extracting nutrients out of food, and supplements can be a less effective way of getting them into our systems. Plus, not all supplements are created equally: some can contain synthetic ingredients or even toxins that our body then has to work harder to get rid of, negating the positive effects they may have.
In light of the pandemic, a healthy body is all we could really wish for, both for ourselves and our loved ones. Living a healthy life doesn’t have to involve drastic measures and strict regimes. Instead, just a few simple changes to your everyday life can help you live a calmer, more balanced life – which can help restore your health to optimal levels. It can also give you other benefits too, like lowering your day-to-day medical expenses since you’re getting sick less.