A new health journey can be daunting. While changes in lifestyle and diet are often necessary to reduce pain and get you back to feeling well, it’s not easy to break habits or start a new routine, even if you know it’s good for you.
A new health journey might be recommended by a health professional, or you might just know you need to make a few changes to get the most happiness and fulfillment from your day-to-day life. Here are four simple steps that will set you on the right path when making change, big or small.
Quality sleep is perhaps the single most important tool to maximise your physical and mental health. Everyone can benefit from better sleep, but if you’re embarking on a new health journey, 7-8 hours of sleep each night will lay a solid foundation to manage stress and stick to your goals.
Poor sleep leads to problems with concentration, memory and mood which make it harder to perform daily tasks, let alone stick to a health plan that might involve significant changes, especially if you’re cutting out foods and drinks your body has become dependent on.
A significant body of research has linked sleep to health and well-being, though poor sleep has been linked to a whole range of health issues such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, poor mental health and inflammation.
Some of the best ways to improve sleep include avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol near bedtime, avoiding napping, maintaining a regular sleep pattern, keeping your bedroom comfortable and quiet, and avoiding stressful activities in your bedroom, such as working from bed.
Find your support network
Making significant change without the support of friends and family is very hard. Before you embark on a new health journey, think about the network that could support and encourage you — consider making some friends or family members aware of your goals, so that they can help you incorporate them into your daily life.
This is especially helpful if your new health journey involves cutting out substances such as alcohol, tobacco and fast food, as these are often linked to social occasions.
Enjoy the journey
It’s impossible to make huge changes overnight. Especially when it comes to exercise, it’s important to build up slowly to avoid injuries. Try to find ways to incorporate some element of fun into your new health routines as this makes them easier to stick with, and if possible, try to make exercise a social occasion.
You also need to be patient and kind to yourself — there will be setbacks, and ups and downs on your road to a healthier life. You might miss an exercise session, or slip up and eat or drink something you had promised yourself you would avoid. Learn from this by identifying the triggers that caused you to make this decision, but understand and embrace the fact that you are only human.
Understand how diet impacts your health
Even if your new health journey is not related to inflammation or weight loss, a healthy and well-rounded diet has been linked to better physical and mental health and will support any wellness plan. Speaking to a dietitian or doing some simple research on ways to eat a healthier diet with a lot of unprocessed foods is a great way to support your health goals.
A healthy diet gives you the energy you need to stick with your plan, the nutrients you need for growth and cellular repair, and helps you avoid diet-related illnesses and some cancers. A poor diet, particularly a deficiency in vitamin A, B, C and E, and zinc, iron and selenium can also weaken your immune system, and illness and injury is one of the easiest ways to derail a new health journey.
A new health journey can help you take control of your life and unlock your full potential, but making big changes can be difficult. These tips can help you build a solid foundation so that you’re physically and mentally strong enough to see your new health journey through.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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