If you’re desperately seeking the key to a healthy body and mind, chances are you’ve felt a bit overwhelmed by all the conflicting information out there. Making a big life change isn't something you do half-heartedly or carelessly. Maybe you've started researching, but your head is all over the place, and information overload just makes it worse. While it’s important to drill down into the finer details of health advice from time to time, often you don’t want to wade through all those words. “Just give me a cheat sheet!” you cry.
For those times when you just need the core tips for maintaining good health, remember the Big 5 and it’ll hold you steady.
1. Focus on sleep This tends to be the first one we forget when we’re stressed – but good sleep is fundamental to good health! It helps our body recover and it makes it easier to deal with stress and big life changes. An awesome benefit of sleep is that it regulates our hormones, which means more control over our emotions and cravings (yes, it helps food cravings!). Having trouble sleeping? Try these:
Ban technology and screen time for an hour before bed.
Create a dark, quiet space for you to wind down – don’t just jump straight in from your high-energy activities!
Work out at a different time of day to usual.
Watch what you eat!
2. Eat well Food is fuel for your body, so make sure you’re giving it the absolute best. Don't have time to set up a detailed meal plan strategy today? Some quick tips to start you off would be to have more of these:
That all-important protein, whether meat, dairy, eggs or plant-based
Whole foods, not junk
Fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in antioxidants
Fats (the HEALTHY ones)
Water or herbal teas and infusions for hydration
And less of these:
Sugary drinks and snacks (even the secret sugars!)
Refined carbohydrates – look for complex, whole grain and low-GI options instead
3. Love your gut We often forget the gut, but if you have bad gut health then it affects EVERYTHING else that’s going on. Even your skin! A big proportion of your immune system is found in your gut – the gastro-intestinal tract, to be specific. Because the gut is where the outside bacteria come into contact with your immune system, gut health is central to your overall wellbeing. Your gut bacteria need to be in balance or things start breaking down and you can get sick – you could even develop ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Keeping your mind on your gut is vital, so make sure you’re eating a gut-friendly diet, including probiotics like Greek yogurt and fermented foods. If you experience unpleasant or ongoing gut symptoms, however, it’s really important to see a doctor.
4. Build healthy relationships Seeking out other like-minded people to spend our time with lets us form healthy relationships with a sense of purpose and connection. These are a valuable support network, and we should remember to reach out to others not only in bad times, but also when we are happy and want to share this. Connections to other people keep us healthy – mentally and physically. Sharing our personal goals with others also keeps us accountable, giving us extra support and motivation. And you don’t have to choose between health and a social life, either – you can keep your perfect balance.
5. Breathe! Breathe in... breathe out. Focusing on this simple, natural process can do wonders. Connect your breath with meditation to calm your body and mind. If you’re feeling stressed, just take a moment to breathe slowly, allow yourself to detach from emotions, and just be in the moment. Meditation can also help with food cravings and other habits. It forces you to stop, consider and take control. Plus, it’s also a good chance to think about all the things you are grateful for in life – to remind you to be positive and appreciate what you have.