We all want to live long, happy, and healthy lives. However this isn’t always reflected in the chaotic lifestyles that we lead. When work and family commitments start to pile up, health can often take a backseat, resulting in the onset of stress and illness that could have otherwise been avoided.

The key to leading and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to incorporate key habits into your daily routine that will optimize your health and wellbeing. It’s much easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle once you start to ingrain these key habits into your day and your body will definitely thank you for it in the long run!

Consistency is vital in order to stick to any new habits you create. So we’re going to start with 5 simple daily habits that are easy to stick to and will become the building blocks to a healthier and happier you!

1. Make Time to Exercise Daily

It’s easy to find excuses not to exercise, but it’s just as easy to add a little bit of extra movement to your day every day! Regular exercise helps to control weight, maintain healthy bones, joints, and muscles, and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Aside from the benefits on your physical health, regular exercise actually enhances your creativity and cognitive ability, in addition to elevating your mood with a boost of endorphins!

Don’t have time? Make some. It really doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do as long as you do something. Do a quick home workout in the mornings, slot some exercise into your lunch break by going for a 30-minute walk or run, or hit the gym after work a few days a week. You’ll be more inclined to stick with this if you enjoy it, so figure out what kind of exercise you enjoy the most and start with that.

If you need some extra motivation, schedule your exercise periods into your calendar and create reminders to give you that push when you need it. Once you get moving daily, you’ll look better, feel better, and exercise will start to feel like part of your natural daily routine rather than something you have to fit in.

2. Stay Hydrated

According to research, 75% of Americans are actually chronically dehydrated. A more recent study by the U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention also found that 43% of adults drink less than four cups of water a day! This is a long way from the daily recommended intake of 8 glasses of water daily, and scarily so.

The human body is made up of about 70% water and a sufficient intake is essential for optimal bodily functioning. If you need to drink more water but don’t love the taste, it’s worth trying fruit, vegetable, or herb infusions to make it more palatable. There are also lots of great apps on the market such as Daily Water that will monitor your intake and remind you when it’s time to take a sip until it becomes a part of your daily routine.

3. Eat Healthily

If you don’t provide your body with the fuel it needs to perform optimally, you’ll end up tired, drained, and prone to illness. We all know that following a healthy diet will increase your productivity, raise your energy levels, control your weight, and help you to fight infection, but it’s sometimes easier said than done. Especially when we’re surrounded by so many sweet treats and convenience foods!

Adding minerals and vitamin supplements to your diet will give your body a big helping hand in this regard, but it’s also important to evaluate your food intake as a whole.

An unhealthy diet can have a significant impact on both your mental and physical well-being, so eating healthily is an important habit to practice. As Jim Rohn once said; “take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”.

4. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is something that people often neglect when life becomes hectic. But it’s also something that is absolutely crucial to our wellbeing. The consequences of sleep deprivation range from fatigue, lack of focus, and memory loss, to possible long-lasting neurological effects. To avoid these symptoms and potential health issues, it’s important to develop a habit of getting at least 6-7 hours sleep a night. If you think you can function optimally on less than that, you may be one of the 5% of the population who can – but that’s a small percentage to bet on.

How refreshed and energized you feel after sleep is closely related to your REM cycle, which stands for “rapid eye movement”. This is the dream phase of your sleep cycle and the first 10 minute REM cycle usually occurs about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. It then cycles around every 90-120 minutes until you wake up. Getting enough REM sleep is essential in order to wake up feeling rested. If you ever wondered why some people need more sleep than others, it’s often because they can access the REM phase more quickly.

There are a few ways that you can help your body to reach this phase faster:

  • Have a hot bath before bed.
  • Turn off electronic devices. The blue light emitted from electronics has been proven to disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Drink warm milk and/chamomile to promote relaxation.
  • Make sure your room isn’t too warm. It’s best to sleep in a cool room between 60 and 67 degrees.
  • Keep the room dark but leave the curtains partially open so that you can wake up naturally with the sunrise (unless you’d like a lie in!).
  • Reduce your caffeine intake. Everyone loves a caffeine boost but if you drink coffee or tea too late in the afternoon you may find it difficult to get to sleep that night. Caffeine can also shorten the time you spend in the important REM phase of sleep.

5. Always Read Food Labels

Reading the labels on the food you eat is a simple but extremely important habit to adopt. This is a great way to increase your nutrition awareness and educate yourself more about the food industry and what you put into your body. In time, you’ll probably find yourself opting for natural food such as fresh fruit and vegetables over the frozen or processed variety as a result.

Like anything else, adopting and maintaining a healthier lifestyle takes work, but with these small steps, you can get started on your journey right now!