Three Aspects of Healthy Living

While there are many different aspects to consider when it comes to healthy living, there are three that are absolutely key. From physical health to mental well-being to social relationships, make sure that you place a priority on each of these parts of your life.

Woman running

Physical Health
There are a number of factors that contribute to an individual’s physical health, but two that you can have full control over are diet and exercise. In today’s world, it is all-too-easy to get the diet part wrong, especially since supermarket shelves are lined with unhealthy, processed foods. Improving on a diet can often seem daunting, so take this one step at a time, making easy and gradual changes rather than dramatic, difficult ones. For example, incorporating a new vegetable into your meals each week could be a great first step, as could making your own healthy smoothies at home. Exercise also plays a huge role in physical health, with the majority of people out there not getting enough exercise at all. Again, this is something else that can seem challenging to initially get motivated about, so begin by picking a few forms of exercise that you genuinely enjoy, such as a certain sport or a dance. Once your fitness levels begin to improve, it will be much easier to branch out and see what else is out there.

Woman meditating

Mental Health
Mental health is an extremely broad topic, but one of the key causes of poor mental health in today’s world is stress. When you experience stress, this triggers an emergency response in your body, which sends the hormone cortisol coursing through you. Chronic stress, which means consistently elevated levels of cortisol, will increase your risk for so many mental health problems, from depression to other forms of mental illness. When it comes to keeping your stress levels under control, you may need to experiment with different tactics before finding one that works for you, whether this may be doing some form of exercise, spending an hour gardening, or spending time on a new hobby.

Friends having dinner

Social Bonds
Healthy relationships are a vital part of healthy living, and there is plenty of research out there that shows that strong social bonds are linked to a longer and happier life. Not only do healthy relationships mean that you are 50% less likely to die prematurely, but they can also boost your immune system and help you to deal with stress better, which, in turn, will be a boost to your mental health. If you are looking to expand your social circle but do not know where to begin, look into local groups or clubs where you can meet people that share similar interests to you, or ask your existing friends to introduce you to some new people.

When it comes to healthy living, there are always areas in which you can improve on. Whether this may be making improvements to your diet to support your physical health, or expanding your social circle to support both your physical and mental health, be sure to pay close attention to each of these three aspects of healthy living.


How a Bad Night’s Sleep Affects Your Health

While you may think that the only consequence to a night of poor sleep is that you will be yawning much more the next day, there is actually much more to it than this. From cognitive dysfunction to high blood pressure, here are just a few of the ways in which a night of bad sleep can affect your health.

Woman who cant sleep
Cognitive Dysfunction
Sleep is absolutely vital when it comes to your cognitive ability, which, in other words, means how fast and how well you can think. A night of bad sleep can affect cognitive processes in many different ways, impairing everything from attention and alertness to concentration and problem-solving. Sleep cycles also have an impact on memory consolidation, meaning that a night of poor sleep will lead you to have memory issues the next day.

Higher Risk of Serious Health Issues
While one night of poor sleep will not immediately lead to serious health issues, chronic sleep loss drastically increases your risk of many medical conditions. From high blood pressure and heart disease to diabetes and strokes, these are just a few of the conditions that have been linked to sleep deprivation.

Depressed woman
Depression and Anxiety
In addition to having an impact on your physical health, a lack of sleep will also affect your mental health. While one or two nights of poor sleep is not going to immediately cause depression, this is a condition that can soon occur after chronic sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that insomnia is often one of the first signs of depression, making good sleep absolutely necessary for a positive and healthy outlook on life.

Weakened Immune System
Your immune system works hard while you are asleep, producing infection-fighting cells and antibodies that battle bacteria and viruses, keeping your body healthy. If you experience a lack of sleep one night, this means that your immune system will not have had the opportunity to properly defend your body, meaning that not only are you more susceptible to foreign invaders, but it will also take you far longer to recover from any illness that takes you down. Even when it comes to the common cold, those that average less than seven hours of sleep at night will find themselves three times more likely to develop cold symptoms, and will also have a much harder time fighting these off.

Digestive System and Obesity
Studies carried out by the Harvard Medical School have shown connections between a lack of sleep and weight gain, making sleep deprivation one of the primary causes of obesity. A night of poor sleep will raise the levels of ghrelin in your body, which is a biochemical that stimulates the appetite. Sleep deprivation also triggers the body to release higher levels of insulin after eating, which not only promotes fat storage within the body, but can also quickly lead to diabetes.

Quality sleep is absolutely essential when it comes to a healthy mind and body, and a night of poor sleep can really have some adverse reactions. From a weakened immune system to rapid weight gain, make sure that these issues do not affect you by ensuring that you are receiving enough sleep each and every night.

Risks of Body Shaming

Woman looking at her body in the mirror

These days, women, and an increasing number of men, are constantly under pressure when it comes to their bodies. From being told that they are not thin enough to feeling as though they do not look young enough, body shaming can come from both the outside as well as the inside. While this may not seem like too big of a deal, researchers have recently discovered that body shaming can be extremely detrimental, not only psychologically, but also in terms of physical health.

Fat Shaming Causes Weight Gain
Fat shaming is one of the most common forms of body shaming, yet many believe that, by fat shaming a person, they are doing them some good, providing them with motivation to lose weight. In reality, this could not be further from the truth, as a number of different studies have proven that fat shaming only causes the victim to feel ashamed, resulting in higher stress levels, which then drives them to seek out more calories.

An Increase in Infections
Studies have shown that women who have higher levels of body shame tend to experience more infections than those who are comfortable with their body image. One of the reasons behind this is that, when women are ashamed of certain aspects of their body, they tend to pay less attention to them, meaning that they miss out on vital signs that an ailment or an infection is taking root.

It comes as no surprise that those who suffer from body shaming are at a much higher risk for depression and other mental illnesses. Children that are body shamed while young are more likely to suffer from depression as teenagers and adults, putting a focus on weight instead of nutrition, which is always detrimental but especially so at that stage in life when the body is still growing. Of course, one of the common consequences of depression is suicide, and while this may seem extreme in terms of body shaming, it happens all-too-often.

Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can seriously affect general health, especially when they persist for a long period of time. From bulimia to anorexia to binge eating, body shaming has been linked to just about every eating disorder out there. Anorexia is believed to be one of the most fatal eating disorders in the United States, mostly because the rates of suicide connected with eating disorders are much higher than those linked to other psychological illnesses.

Body shaming can come about in many forms, from criticizing your own appearance to criticizing somebody else’s appearance. Whether just a subtle comment or extreme verbal bullying, body shaming perpetuates the idea that people should be judged by their personal appearance, and this is most definitely not the case. The best way to combat body shaming is to begin with yourself, working on developing a positive body image and encouraging others to do the same. If you are guilty of body shaming someone else, it goes without saying that it is time to stop, and remember that a positive comment can go a long way.

Healthy Mind and Body

When it comes to enjoying a long and happy life, having a healthy mind and body is key. There is no longer a debate about the connection between the mind and the body, and, in order to truly enjoy your life, it is essential to keep both of these healthy.

Woman meditating

Daily Meditation
Meditation is a tool that can significantly boost both the mind as well as the body, and at the same time too. Studies have shown that just eight weeks of regular meditation not only helps people to feel calmer overall, but also results in changes in certain parts of the brain, including a growth in the areas that are responsible for empathy, stress regulation and memory. When it comes to the more physical aspects of the body, meditation has been linked to a decrease in a number of issues, from hypertension to depression to heart disease to addiction. If meditation is something new to you, do not feel intimidated by it. There are plenty of well-written guides online that explain the different meditation techniques that are best suited for beginners, so take a look and set aside some time today for your first meditation session.

Woman resting after exercise

Daily Exercise
Exercise is something else that benefits both the body and mind at the same time, and there have been plenty of studies throughout history that document the many benefits of daily exercise. Not only does physical activity help to slow down the aging of the body, but it also increases the brain’s ability to learn and adapt, while reducing stress and helping to eliminate depression. The daily exercise that you do can be chosen based on your interests. If you want something quick that you can do at home, take a look at aerobic exercises. However, if you like to be outdoors, and this in itself has its own additional benefits, then there are plenty of outdoor activities that will be able to get your heart racing.

Women laughing

When it comes to the connection between the mind and the body, laughter has managed to baffle researchers for many years, as it affects both in a unique way. A hearty belly laugh not only slows down the production of stress hormones within the body, but it also gives the immune system a good boost.

Woman sleeping

A Deep Sleep
When it comes to good health, the quality of your sleep is important to consider, as this affects both your body and your mind. A lack of quality sleep causes the body to fall out of balance, leading to a weaker immune system, weight gain, faster aging, and depression. A healthy sleep is achieved without the use of pharmaceuticals or alcohol, and, when you wake up in the morning, the vibrant feeling you experience will let you know that you have had some quality rest.

A healthy mind will lead to a healthy body, and vice versa, but there is nothing quite like tackling both at the same time. From meditation to laughter, these tips will ensure that your life is filled with health and happiness.

Planning Healthy Lunches

Vegan sandwich wrap

When it comes to healthy eating, a little advance planning will always make things much easier. This is especially the case when it comes to lunches, as these midday meals are often all-too-easy to rush, meaning that you wind up eating something that is not as healthy as you may have liked. If you want to ensure that your lunches are as healthy as can be, yet still absolutely delicious, have a read through these tips.

Rather than counting calories or trying to work out fat percentages of different foods, try to keep things as simple as possible. Opt for natural, whole foods rather than packaged and processed foods, and try to focus on ensuring that you eat as many different colors as possible. The more colorful the fruits and vegetables that you eat, the more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals you will be putting into your body. Be adventurous when choosing vegetables of different colors, for example, opting for Chinese cabbage or mustard greens instead of lettuce.

Make Small But Healthy Changes
The best way to begin tackling unhealthy lunch choices that often become a habit is by starting off with small changes. Swap your fried chicken for a grilled fish, and do the same with your sides, opting for a fresh salad instead of a packet of crisps. This will ensure that the unhealthy trans fats that would have otherwise ended up causing havoc for your body will now be replaced by healthy fats, which will give your body the nutrients that it needs to thrive for the rest of the afternoon. You should also be trying to replace all of the unhealthier carbs that you eat with healthier carbs, such as brown rice or brown pasta instead of the white and processed alternatives. If you do not particularly enjoy the taste or texture of the whole grain versions, you can start by mixing in a small amount of them and building this up slowly, so that your tastebuds get used to it.

Cut Back on Sugar
A sugar rush may seem like a great way to help you through a long afternoon, but this only does the body more harm than good, as this energy spike has been linked to diabetes, depression and more. Again, this is something that can be easily done by replacing processed foods with natural alternatives, as the processed versions often contain a large amount of added sugar. There are many foods that will give your body a healthy boost of sugar, such as sweet vegetables, from sweet potatoes to corn to beets, berries and other fruit.

Planning healthy lunches does not need to be difficult, but it can often be hard to resist the temptation of all of the unhealthier alternatives on offer. To counter this, try to set aside a small amount of time each evening to prepare your lunch for the following day, taking the time to put together a meal that you will really look forward to.