At Health Alliance Network we’re all about making it easy and uncomplicated to be healthy. We love these simple life hacks for bringing better health and happiness into your life.
1. Rid your home of clutter and keep it tidy
Having clean, organized surroundings reduces stress, boosts energy, keeps cold and flu germs at bay, and may even make you more likely to eat healthier and exercise more. Not to mention, housework can be great exercise!
2. Wear sunblock every day
If you’re not using sunblock every day, even in winter, you’ll regret it 20 years from now. With skin cancer rates on the rise, it’s your best defense against almost any type of skin cancer (especially melanoma – the deadliest variety). Plus preventing sun damage keeps your skin looking younger longer.
3. Boost your brain power with dark chocolate
The micronutrients in dark chocolate have been shown to improve blood flow to the brain and guard brain cells against free-radical damage. Essentially, eating dark chocolate brings more oxygen to your brain, and oxygen is your brain’s caffeine!
4. Give more hugs
A hug a day could keep the doctor away. Researchers think this is because hugging increases oxytocin. This “bonding hormone” sets off a chain reaction of stress-reducing chemical changes in your body that helps protect you from getting sick.
5. Get a massage once a month
According to the Mayo Clinic, a massage can relieve digestive disorders, insomnia, migraines, joint pain and many types of chronic or injury-related pain. It’s also one of the best stress relievers ever.
6. Spend time in nature
Studies from around the world, and as far back as the 1980s, show that spending time in nature boosts your immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases focus and patience, decreases depression and anxiety symptoms, and may even help you recover faster from surgery.
7. Spend 10-15 minutes of one-on-one time with each of your children, each day
One-on-one time with you makes your kids feel loved and appreciated. It deepens your bond with them, and allows you to more fully enjoy the parenting journey. You might even find that they’re more well-behaved. (What parent doesn’t want more of that, right?)
8. Wash your face every night
Gently washing away the dirt, oil and debris from your face every night is one of the first and most important steps toward controlling acne and other skin problems. It also helps keep your skin looking younger longer. So don’t skip it!
9. Get a dental checkup every 6 months
Aside from keeping your smile gorgeous, regular dental care may also reduce your risk of heart disease and prevent infection in other parts of the body. Plus it may help keep your memory sharp and your blood sugar stable.
10. Schedule and keep annual wellness checkup appointments
Regular wellness checkups – including dermatology – help your doctor detect early warning signs of serious health problems so they can be treated early – before they become harder to manage, more expensive to treat and more life-threatening.
11. Show appreciation to your partner
Appreciation means the world to your partner – and your relationship. Feeling and expressing gratitude toward your partner can make both of you happier and more likely to stay in the relationship.
12. Add a superfood to every meal and snack
Superfoods are nature’s superheroes. They pack a mighty nutritional punch! They ward off all kinds of diseases (including cancer and heart disease), strengthen your immune system, protect your cells from damage and inflammation, improve your digestion and help regulate your metabolism.
13. Plant a small garden
Gardening reduces stress, anxiety and depression. It also reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Plant some superfoods to add more bang to your gardening buck. The fruits (and vegetables) of your labor will motivate you to eat healthier!
14. Put a live plant in every room
Houseplants are nature’s air purifiers. They reduce pollutants and airborne dust in your home, increase humidity and remove carbon dioxide. Plus different types of houseplants have surprising mental and physical health benefits.
15. Take a 15- to 20-minute walk at lunchtime
A quick 15-minute walk can boost your creativity and energy levels for several hours.
16. Have dinner with your family 2-3 times a week
The benefits of family dinners for kids have been known for generations, but it turns out they’re great for parents, too. Studies show that regular family dinners help dads hit the drive thru less often and help moms manage their carb cravings.
17. Get a flu shot – and any other vaccinations your doctor recommends
Flu shots are hands-down your best defense against the flu. Even if you get a post-flu-shot case of the flu, it probably won’t pack as much of wallop. Make sure you’re up to date on any other vaccines you might need, too. This protects you and anyone in your life who’s too young or too sick to get vaccinated.
18. Clean your closet once a year and give away anything you haven’t worn in a year
An organized closet erases most of your “what to wear” stress and sets the tone for a less stressful day. Giving away clothes and shoes to someone who needs them and will enjoy them – that just feels really good.
19. Simplify your wardrobe
While you’re cleaning your closet, hang on to (or make an investment in) a few quality, timeless, versatile separates that you can mix and match a bunch of different ways. You may even want to perfect your own signature “work uniform.”
20. Take your shoes off when you get home
You’re probably ready to kick off your shoes after a long day anyway, right? This easy little habit keeps environmental toxins, germs, dirt, allergens and dust from entering your home where they can linger, settle into your carpet and rugs, and make you sick.
21. Disinfect your light switch plates, doorknobs, cell phones and tablets once a week
Regularly sanitizing these places where hands frequently land keeps germs at bay. Alcohol, a spritz of mild bleach solution or disinfecting spray should do the trick.
22. Take a vacation once a year
It almost goes without saying that a break from your normal life reduces stress. But it also helps you feel more connected to your loved ones and reduces your risk of heart disease, depression and some types of cancer.
23. Smile more
Smiling makes you more attractive, more relaxed and happier. It also lowers your blood pressure and your heart rate and serves as a natural pain reliever. Not only that, it’s contagious (in a good way).
Taking few deep breaths can instantly lower your levels of cortisol – your body’s main stress hormone. Taking a few “breathers” throughout the day can have benefits that last long after the high-stress moments pass.
25. Start a gratitude journal
Counting your blessings on paper every day makes you a calmer, happier person. Plus on bad days, you’ll have a written record to remind you of the good things, and you’ll train yourself to reframe setbacks in a positive way.
26. Forgive someone
Forgiving people who harm you helps you sleep better, feel less depressed and even live longer. It also helps you forgive yourself for your own mess-ups.
27. Be thriftier
Financial stability is an obvious stress reducer. But making smart choices about your money also makes you more likely to eat healthier and exercise more. (Maybe because bringing your lunch and biking to work is cheaper than driving and dining out!)
28. Listen to music
Listening to music stimulates almost every area of the brain. Maybe that’s why it’s good for just about everything that ails you. Music can relieve pain, improve immune functioning, reduce anxiety and depression, keep your memory sharp and help motivate you to exercise.
29. Banish your cell phone (and all devices) from your bedroom
For starters, you’ll sleep better and pay more attention to your partner. You’ll also be less tempted to scroll through your social media feeds and watch cat videos until the wee hours.
30. Digital detox every 3 months
For one weekend each season, turn off everything with a screen. You’ll return to the digital world more focused, more productive, more connected to your loved ones.
31. Keep important medical information in your wallet
This can literally save your life in a life-or-death situation. First responders will immediately know which medications they can and can’t safely give you at the scene of an accident or injury.
32. Microwave your dish sponge
That sponge you use to clean your countertops needs a bath every day. Toss it in the microwave or dishwasher. The heat will kill all the germs it’s wiped away from your kitchen surfaces so you’re not redistributing them.
33. Do a full-body skin check once a month
Once a month, make a recurring appointment with yourself to check your whole body for any new marks, moles or changes to the size, shape and texture of any area of your skin. If you notice anything new, visit a dermatologist online as soon as possible.
34. Take vitamin D supplements
Most Americans are surprisingly vitamin D deficient. This crucial vitamin can protect you from a long list of health issues including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults take 600-800 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per day.
35. Change your filters
Changing the air filters in your house’s heating and cooling system once a month will keep your energy costs down and reduce the amount of dust, pollen, dander and other allergens in your home. To keep your drinking water fresh-tasting and mold-free, change the filter on your water purifier as often as the manufacturer recommends.
36. Use weekends to prep your weeknight meals
Do this every week, and you’ll never hear “what’s for dinner?” again! Each week, plan a week’s worth of meals. Check your fridge and cupboards for what you have, and add any ingredients you need to your grocery list. Then just prepare, heat and serve until next weekend!
37. Drink more water
Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day helps pretty much all your body’s organs, cells and processes work better. Water improves your complexion, balances hormones, flushes toxins, boosts your immune system, keeps you “regular” and improves your health in so many ways, it deserves its own blog.
38. Drink less soda
Cutting soda completely will reduce your risk of heart attack by 20 percent. It’s also one of the easiest ways to shed pounds and protect your liver and kidneys from damage. (This is true of regular and diet soda, btw).
39. Shut down negative self-talk
Words matter – especially the ones we say to ourselves. So instead of telling yourself, “That was boneheaded move!” say it back to yourself as, “Yes, I really need to think things through.”
40. Stay home when you’re sick
In the end, you’ll be more productive – and so will your coworkers (who will be grateful that you didn’t share your germs). Plus, Health Alliance Network makes it easy to talk to a doctor from home where you can rest comfortably instead of waiting in a germy old waiting room.
41. Pair your sandwich with pistachios instead of potato chips
Or any kind of nuts you like (go nuts!). Nuts are also superfoods, and they’ll fill you up with protein, healthy fats and all kinds of important nutrients instead of empty carbs.
42. Compliment your partner
Couples who feel appreciated by their partners are not only more committed to their relationships, they may also have stronger immune systems.
43. Skip the juice, eat the fruit
Fruit juice contains the nutrients of fruit, but not the fiber. Plus, fruit juice has more calories than whole fruit.
44. Visit the farmer’s market
Locally grown produce is fresher, riper and tastier. It can also be a better value and contain fewer (if any) harmful pesticides.
45. Spice things up with cinnamon
Cinnamon adds a little sweetness without the extra calories. It’s also one of the most powerful antioxidants in your kitchen. Sprinkle it on oatmeal, stir it in your coffee or make a relaxing, fragrant cinnamon tea (see sidebar) to reduce inflammation, fight cancer and heart disease, lower your blood sugar and boost your brain functioning.
46. Or add a little ginger
From motion sickness to morning sickness, ginger has been a go-to nausea remedy for centuries. But this spicy little root does so much more than quell queasy tummies. Ginger can also reduce muscle pain from injuries and exercise. Also, ginger’s highly concentrated antioxidants guard against cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
47. Start with a salad
Order a salad with a vinaigrette dressing instead of an appetizer. You’ll quiet your rumbling tummy with vegetables and healthy fats instead of carbs and calories. When your entrée arrives, you won’t overindulge!
48. Study food labels and ingredient lists
Make sure you’re keeping a lid on your sugar intake. Watch for sneaky sugar aliases like “high-fructose corn syrup,” “barley malt syrup,” and “dehydrated cane juice.”
49. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar
If you struggle with carb cravings, apple cider vinegar can minimize the one of the consequences. Studies have shown that just two tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar before bedtime reduced fasting blood sugars by 4 percent.
50. Double (or even triple) the recipe, then freeze half of it
Make double batches of crowd-pleaser meals, then freeze half to pull out on a hectic weeknight. Do this with things like hummus, sauces and salsa, too. Just move the next batch from the freezer to the fridge when you start runnin