Each of us is on a quest to live well, and establishing a lifestyle that is built around healthy choices is part of that journey. But, in the process we find ourselves lacking the guiding principles necessary to do so.
We end up turning to Google, searching for health tips and seeing tons of solutions in articles claiming “Learn to Love Exercise in 5 Easy Steps,” or “Health Tips for Guaranteed Results.” With all this information at our fingertips, it can be hard to know what works. Can the latest health hacks, miracle diets, or exercise trends actual make a sustainable difference? Where can we find clear, reliable principles to help us lead healthier lives?
At Novara, we’ve seen first hand how pursuing the latest health trends can lead to frustration and burnout. Quick fixes often don’t work in the long run.
Though everyone’s health journey is a little different, here are a few principles we’ve found useful.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is not only about feeling centered and being aware of your breathing, it’s also about being intentional about how you live. With the amount of information vying for our attention at all hours, it can be hard to know where to break through and gain control.
One central way to embrace mindfulness is to be present. This idea of “being present” merely means tuning out distractions and enjoying moments as they happen. Ask yourself, are you cognizant of people around you? Or are you wishing you were with someone else? Are you focusing on your immediate environment? Or are you thinking about your afternoon meeting, or how busy the grocery store will be after work? Challenge yourself to be present with the person sitting next to you, appreciating the richness of each moment, not just looking ahead to the next thing.
Not only does mindfulness ask us to be present in our relationships, but it causes us to reflect on our schedules. Are we doing too many things at once? While we may be tempted to think we are the exception to the inefficiencies of multitasking—studies show we are 40% less efficient when we are multitasking, than we are when we focus on one task at a time. Understanding the multitasking myth is a step to streamlining your workflow to help increase your efficiency both at work and at home. By taking time to enjoy the moments in front of us and allowing ourselves to complete one task at a time—we can be present for the meaningfulness of each moment.
2. Seek Balance
Achieving a work-life balance is an important topic right now. But, we think the idea of balance could be much deeper than just finding a balance between your work and your other responsibilities. We suggest finding ways of balancing your choices and priorities in all aspects of life, even the little things. For example, while we might want to hop on the couch and watch our latest TV show transporting our attention to another world, why not balance those nights by reading that book you’ve put back on the shelf multiple times? Or if you love a good burger and fries, try to balance out your next meal with a salad. Have to bring work home at night? There’s no need to feel guilty, you can just find other creative ways of spending time with your family. Balance isn’t about making the perfect choices, but taking time to reflect on what small decisions will lead you to a more well-rounded life.
3. Move your Body
For most of us, when we hear the phrase, “move your body,” we immediately think about a gym membership. While it’s true that our bodies are made to move (a lot!) there are plenty of ways of being more active than working out in a traditional sense.
If you find it hard to take time to exercise, take 20 minutes to walk over your lunch break. Have you enjoyed yoga in the past? Carve out some time in your week to practice for ten minutes. (Yoga classes are great, but your living room works just fine, too!) Is there a sport you cherish, perhaps golf or tennis? Allow yourself to spend a few hours each week doing something you already love doing. While these ideas might seem a bit obvious, we know that whatever physical activity or hobby you incorporate into your life can assist in establishing a habit of exercise.
You can also transform your daily work life by using time at work to maintain movement throughout the day. From changing to a standing desk, stretching once an hour, walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, or even trying to have walking meetings with coworkers—it is simple to incorporate activity into your day. Studies are now revealing that being more active during your workday can eliminate the afternoon slump we sometimes feel while sitting at our desks, even increasing our productivity.
As with anything, transformations begin with a first step. Then over time all those small steps accumulate to help you achieve better overall wellness. And maybe you don’t need a fad diet or a trendy new workout routine, just a few general principles that you can work into your thinking about healthy living.
Go ahead, take the first step. You’ve got this.