Improve Your Health in Nine Easy Steps

We all would do better to improve your health, but sometimes it seems so intimidating. If you think doing so takes a lot of time and effort — well, it can. But there are also things you can do right now to improve your health, physically, mentally, emotionally.

Here are nine simple ways to make yourself healthier. We bet once you master these, you can come up with a lot more on your own.

  1. Breathe. Not just that shallow way we do all day, but breaths in which we focus on the inhale and the exhale. Inhale through your nose to the count of 10, then exhale through your nose to the count of 10. Do it five times or — if you’re feeling anxious or stressed, or you’re trying to get back to sleep — do  10. It’ll slow you down, help you focus, and remind you of the wonder of your lungs and the air.
  2. Eat an apple. They’re beautiful, crunchy, sweet or tart or both, low in calories, and come in a variety of sizes and tastes. Each has about four grams of fiber, which helps with digestion and keeps you feeling full longer than chips or sweets. Apples also contain flavonoids, which can help your body operate more efficiently and even lower risk of stroke. They’re good for your heart, too. Your only task is picking what kind to eat. In the United States alone, 2,500 different kinds of apples grow. Worldwide, that number is tripled.
  3. Go outside. Oh my gosh, just do it and you won’t even need to know the science behind why it’s good for you. You’ll feel it. Breathe it in and ogle the. Even five minutes will make you a convert. What the heck; try 10 minutes.
  4. Call someone on their birthday. Sure, you can put an emoji-filled note on Facebook or send emoji-filled texts until the proverbial cows come home. But when you actually talk to the birthday person, you’ll make their day. And, we’ll wager, yours too.
  5. Say thank you. To the store clerk, to your spouse, to a friend just for being a friend. Think of how hearing those two simple yet strong words make you feel.
  6. Write down the good stuff. At the end of your day — even the bad ones — something surely happened to warm your heart or make you smile. Did you eat a good sandwich? Did someone call you to say hi? Did you see the first tulip of spring? I heard of a couple who write these good little things on strips of paper at the end of each day, then put them in a jar. At year’s end, the couple empties the jar and reads what lifted their lives throughout the year.
  7. Move. Sitting a lot, these days? Set a timer: Every 30 or 45 minutes, get up. Do jumping jacks or just walk around the house for five minutes. By day’s end, you’ll have accumulated 40 minutes of movement — about 10 minutes more than recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
  8. Be still. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop in your tracks (as long as it’s safe to do so). Do that breathing thing from No. 1, focusing on the here and on the now. Breathe in something for which you’re thankful. Breathe out something you’d rather not have in your life.
  9. Say what’s on your mind. We’re not talking negatives; we mean if you appreciate a trait or a smile or a kindness, even from a stranger, say it. I told the young man swimming next to me how much I admired his stroke, and I’m still thinking about the smile he gave me, and the explanation of where he learned his technique.

 

We’d love to hear what small steps you’re taking to be healthier. Jot a note to me, ohlesliebarker@gmail.com and let me know — I may even add your practice to my own!

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