Get Your Health Back and Stay Healthy
There is just something about a new season that evokes the desire to make changes. It is a time when many focus on fresh starts with the new school year, new clothes, new routines, and new goals. While we are so quick to start new things, why do we sometimes forget to take a deeper look at our health?
Now is the perfect time to do some internal resetting — it’s a great opportunity to check in and see if there are any bad habits that might have built up over the few months. So as you clean out your closets and dresser drawers, why not clean up your health-habits too?
Switch Up Your Produce
Did you spend the winter eating apples, bananas, and root vegetables? Is the monotony making it hard to stick to? It is the perfect time to switch things up and reinvigorate your love for fruits and veggies with some variety, while upping your intake of antioxidants as well. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound in spring or summer. Head to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and try asparagus, mushrooms, apricots, or berries. Never tried a steamed artichoke? Or stir-fried snow peas? Maybe you’ve had green beans, but what about haricots verts (French green beans)? Try some sweet cherries or a nectarine as a treat after dinner. Now you can eat from an expanded spring-inspired rainbow.
Fill Your Mind With Good
Not only is important to clear your head from the stressful thoughts, it’s equally as important to challenge your brain on a daily basis. New learning and mental exercises themselves will help keep your brain sharp, but learning about ways to improve your brain is like the sugar-free icing on the fat-free cake!
Declutter Your Mind
It is easy in today’s fast-paced world to harbor negative emotions, like anger, resentment, sadness, and jealousy. But these emotions are detrimental to your health and peace of mind. What you may not realize is that these emotions begin with your thoughts.
This season, make a conscious effort to challenge the automatic negative thoughts that steal your happiness. Stress levels are dramatically decreased for those who learn to control their thoughts, rather than letting their thoughts control them. You might even want to look into the benefits of hypnosis for your brain.
Researchers at heart.org estimate you have about 60,000 thoughts each day. And many of those thoughts involve thinking the same things over and over again. I never have enough time. I have nothing to wear. I look stupid. My house isn’t clean enough. My life would be better if I had more money.
Rehashing the same things, focusing on the negative, and worrying about things you can’t control wastes your time and your mental energy. The key to building more mental muscle involves decluttering your mind of those mental habits that are keeping you stuck.
If you’ve spent much of the winter on the treadmill or in the gym, it is time to go outside. Research shows that exercising outdoors comes with a variety of health advantages over working out inside including improved energy levels and decreased stress and anger. Another study found that being outdoors has an overall positive effect on vitality — your sense of enthusiasm, aliveness, and energy.
Your vitamin D levels rise. Sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D, notes cdc.gov. Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks. Limited sun exposure (don’t overdo it), supplemented with vitamin D pills if necessary, is a good regimen. You’ll get more exercise. If you make getting outside a goal, that should mean less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking and doing other things that put the body in motion.
You’ll be happier. Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles. Your concentration will improve. Children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. It might be a stretch to say that applies to adults, but if you have trouble concentrating, outdoor activity may help.
Purge Your Pantry
If you eat the standard American diet, your kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer contain foods that are terrible for your health and your weight. The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to do a clean sweep of your entire kitchen and get rid of all the foods that sabotage your health.
Doing so makes it easier for you to make conscious eating decisions, or better decisions even when they’re not so conscious. It helps prevent impulsive, mindless snacking as you change your eating patterns. When you purge your pantry, you’ve only had to make one healthy decision — not to have unhealthy foods in your house — rather than having the discipline to make dozens of decisions throughout the day to avoid foods that are sitting right there in your kitchen. Once the bad food is gone, stock your pantry with brain-healthy choices.
Let The Sunshine In
Our vitamin D status tends to take a dip in the winter months, due to lack of sun exposure. Your body gets vitamin D in two ways: via sunlight (the sun’s ultraviolet rays must hit your skin in order for your body to manufacture vitamin D) and from your diet. There are a small number of foods, such as fish, eggs, and some mushrooms that can provide vitamin D. Another option is to incorporate a Vitamin D supplement to ensure you’re getting to levels you need.
Unfortunately, many Americans — even those who eat a good diet — are vitamin D deficient. And there is research linking vitamin D deficiency to over 200 diseases.
Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep.