13 Small Tips to Improve Your Health in 2017 That Don’t Involve the Gym

We are officially five days into the start of 2017. A year in which, I personally believe, we will see many amazing things happen. Along with the start of the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. I don’t want this to be one of those blogs that tells you what percentage of people  actually follow through or who give up within the first two weeks of starting whatever new trend they’ve began. This is simply created to provide some tips to those of you who know you’re ready to make some changes, big or small, to your health.

These won’t take any significant amount of time out of your busy schedule, but CAN and WILL make significant changes to how you feel throughout your day.

So, if you’ve been searching for little things you can do that do not involve driving through the cold to the gym everyday, this list is sure to give you a few helpful tips on how to get your new year started on the healthiest and happiest note!

  1. Give your refrigerator a make-over.

What you keep in your refrigerator actually does play a huge role in what you chose to eat at any given time. While you’re probably sitting there thinking, “Duh,” I want to be the first to remind you it isn’t necessarily that cut and dry.

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Photo: Andras Deak, freeimages.com

Doing little things, like placing fruits and vegetables in plastic/glass seal-tight containers and putting them near foods like salad, can help your healthier foods last much longer, giving you the opportunity to enjoy them longer. Plus it helps you save money!

Keeping healthier options at eye level in your refrigerator can also cause you to see these foods first, and make your brain more tempted to eat them. Throwing away old takeout food containers or leftovers, will also train your brain to not crave those same takeout foods since you won’t see them constantly.

2. Keep condoms on hand at all times.

Don’t let, “We didn’t have a condom” be an excuse this year. Being healthy sexually shouldn’t be a chore. A lot of places around Bloomington will give them out for free like the IMU Health and Wellness Room, the IU Health Center and even CCPE. And yes, the condoms they have are actually just as durable, if not more, than the expensive Trojans at the store. Make sure you have condoms on hand long before things get heated to ensure you have a happy and healthy sex life this year.

3.  Take breaks while you’re working or at your internship.

This doesn’t have to be very complicated and please don’t take this as a “oh I’ve been working for 15 minutes so I deserve a 15 minute break now.” I give you this tip as a way to easily slide some extra exercise into your daily routine without having to leave the comfort of your office or work space!

Stretching every 45 minutes to an hour greatly increases blood flow and keeps you from feeling as stiff at the end of your long work day. Also, taking a few short breaks to just get up and take a brisk walk around the office, or finding yourself a few flights of steps to climb each day, will help you get in extra steps and keep you energized throughout your day!

4. Drink a glass of water right after waking up.

Yes, this does include before your morning cup of coffee, and even before breakfast. According to OrganicMedic.com, drinking water when you first wake up in the morning can help in several different ways including: making skin look healthier, balancing your lymphatic system, weight loss, and can even help with body pains and asthma!

 

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Photo: sean ratke, freeimages.com

5. Make a sleep schedule…

 

… and actually sticking to it! Having a routine sleep schedule will have many benefits other than just getting a good nights’ sleep every night. According to Sleep.org, “with regular daily activities, our various body systems are able to prepare for and anticipate events. We naturally become more alert closer to our wake-up time. Our digestive systems become activated in advance of regular meal times in order to more efficiently process food. We start to relax and become sleepy prior to bedtimes. It turns out that these regular daily events serve to anchor our underlying daily rhythms.” Sounds like all good things to me!

 

6. Ask your partner their status before you get busy with them.

Spare yourself all the stress and tests and ask your partners what their STD/HIV status is before you, well, you know.

This can be a scary question for some people to ask, but I want you to think about how you would react if someone asked you. If you said you would be fine with it, you’re in the vast majority (think 99.99%) of people who wouldn’t be offended. In fact, your partner probably wants to ask the same thing, but isn’t sure how to. So, do yourself a favor, and take one for the team. If they do get offended, take a moment to figure out why that may be and evaluate if you really want to have a sexual relationship with someone who won’t be completely honest with you.

Bonus tip: Ask before things get really hot heavy so you don’t potentially ruin the mood. Also, steer clear of saying things like, “Are you clean/dirty?”.

7. Practice deep breathing.

Start paying attention to how you breathe. Realizing the way in which you breathe and making the necessary changes to start deep breathing more can bring a plethora of benefits to the body that many are not aware of. Care2.com states that these may be some of the biggest benefits from practicing deep breathing: your respiratory system issues can subside, your digestive system will work more efficiently; increased circulation of the lymphatic system, which helps fight off illness; your immune system supports your body better by being able to heal itself more quickly which will help with detoxifying your body; and it’s a great anxiety and depression reducer!

8. Dry-brush your teeth.

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Photo: David Guglielmo, freeimages.com

Seems a little odd to say at first, but once I realized all the benefits of dry-brushing first, it’s something I do every day now! By dry-brushing your teeth first with a soft bristled brush, you remove up to 60-70% more tartar buildup on your teeth AND it also helps prevent bleeding gums. After you have brushed with a dry toothbrush, rinse the brush thoroughly, and then add toothpaste and brush your teeth as you usually would. Everyone loves a fresh and clean mouth!

 

9. Get tested for STDs.

Make 2017 the year you started owning your sexual health! A surprising number of people with STDs won’t exhibit any symptoms. Terrifying right? For example, if you are infected with HIV, you’ll probably have flu-like symptoms within the first month of infection, then you may not develop any other symptoms for 10+ years. You could be infected for a whole decade and never even know! Unless, you get tested of course.

Your doctor can test you for the common STDs at your yearly checkup, and this is normally covered by insurance. If you want to get a free confidential HIV test that only takes 30 minutes (who doesn’t?!), CCPE offers them at any time, and you can make an appointment with us by emailing the program manager, Matt, at matthew.clay@centerstone.org.

10. Correct your posture.

We’ve been hearing this one since we were little. “Sit up straight!”. Well, this was honestly very good advice from our elders. Correcting your posture and sitting up straight throughout the day have been shown to have quite a few positive impacts on our health and overall well-being. A few examples include: reducing back pain from less tension, building a stronger core, your breathing is significantly better while sitting upright, and overall you will look and feel more confident! So sit up straight, bring those shoulders back, and go and seize the day!

11. Eat the rainbow.

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Photo: Fleur Suijten, freeimages.com

No, not skittles. We’re talking about real food here, people. When you choose to make your plate as colorful as possible, nine times out of ten, that means you are making healthier food choices which will always help improve your health. No, this doesn’t mean you can start adding food coloring to make those cookies and brownies a beautiful shade of green, thinking it will somehow magically take away all that sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. I’m talking about real, natural color.

 

12. Simply, laugh.

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Photo: Paul Turnbull, freeimages.com

Laughter can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, strengthen your immune system, and diminish pain. By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, though, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness, and even add years to your life.” So, get out there and make someone laugh – it’s such a contagious thing!

 

 

 

13. Set achievable goals.

Everyone always gets so wrapped up in the trendiest fads of healthier eating/living/etc., and I can almost guarantee that most of the things you read online about how to trim all your body fat in 30 days, or how to rid yourself of stress in a week are all outrageous and, most of the time, have no scientific backing to go along with it. So, before you start some crazy, “I’m only eating kale for a month” diet, or a intense workout regimen that you’ll want to pass out and quit after five minutes, remind yourself to look within and know you’re own strengths and weaknesses.

I’m not saying to not challenge yourself to be a better and healthier you. That’s exactly what this blog post is about. Just don’t overshoot at first only to get discouraged and fall back into the same unhealthier routines you’ve had for years.

Start small, see some progress, and continue to better yourself from there. One great tip is to focus on feeling healthy and strong, instead of getting thin. If you need help doing that, check out our old post, Healthy and Strong is the New Skinny, for tips. At the end of the day, it’s better to aim low, than to not aim at all.

Here’s to a happier and healthier year in 2017!

  • Brandon

 

 

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