Becoming the happiest and healthiest version of yourself doesn’t have to be a goal in the distant future. There are small things you can start doing every day that instantly make you feel more vibrant and uplifted.
It’s all about layering the positive habits that make up the five pillars of wellness: lifestyle, movement, nutrition, mind and community. Together, these elements help to nourish your mind, body and spirit and get you feeling your best.
Our overall lifestyle has a huge impact on how we feel each day. How are you spending your time daily? Are there any habits that prevent you from feeling your best?
James Clear in his New York Times best-selling book ‘Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way To Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones' talks about ‘habit stacking’, where you can combine habits together to maximise your chances for good outcomes. For example, laying out your exercise clothes before you go to bed, so it’s quick and easy in the morning to get moving, rather than getting waylaid trying to find things.
Rather than trying to instantly change your habits, consider how you could swap them out with more positive ones? Maybe a frequent heavy weekend brunch with a friend could be replaced with a walk together around a park or trying a new class together? Or, perhaps instead of scrolling through social media in bed, you could read a book instead?
While self-care is a trending buzzword at the moment, it’s more than just scented candles and bubble baths. It’s about looking after your emotional state so you can function at your very best. One great way to do this is through practising mindfulness.
While many people associate this term with meditation, it’s not the only way to do it. At the heart of it, mindfulness is any practice that requires you to focus on the present moment. Doing so has been found to do everything from boosting your mood and reducing stress to improving your focus and productivity.
Mindfulness practices look different for everyone, and it’s important to find a ritual that accommodates your lifestyle. For you, this could mean going for a walk without music, or doing some stretches and breathing exercises in the morning before you reach for your phone. You can even incorporate mindfulness into something as simple as washing your face or doing the dishes, by focusing on the sensations that you can see, feel, smell and hear.
As long as you bring your focus back to the current moment when your thoughts drift to the past or future, you’re doing it right.
Exercise is not only essential for your physical health, but also for how you feel. A global study of more than 260,000 people found that regular exercise reduced the risk of depression across all genders, ages and geographical locations. Exercise releases the endorphin and serotonin hormones, which boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
The key to daily movement practice is finding a type of exercise you enjoy and that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle. Your daily workout could be anything from a virtual dance class, HIIT session or walk with your dog.
While the recommended daily amount of exercise is 30 minutes, you can also break this up into shorter chunks throughout the day. Try setting alarms or notifications on your mobile device, reminding your body to move.
Sometimes, even doing a few push-ups or squats at home is enough to get your blood flowing and endorphins pumping!
Food is more than just what keeps us alive. It’s what keeps our bodies nourished and energised, so that we can move, love and live life to the fullest. However, the 2018 Swisse Wellness Survey conducted with Nielsen showed that based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines, 72% of Australians have a good to excellent self-rating of their diet and nutrition, but in reality, 94% don’t eat enough veggies, and 70% not enough fruit. When we're not getting enough of these, it can negatively impact our energy levels and quality of life.
This is because food isn’t only medicine for your body, but also for your mind. The foods we eat can impact the serotonin levels in the brain. Often referred to as the ‘happy chemical’, this is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood to keep you feeling balanced.
The body needs the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin, which is found in foods like salmon, spinach and eggs. So, incorporating more of these foods into your diet can help keep your brain in great condition.
As well as these ‘happy foods’, a diet filled with plenty of leafy greens, good fats like avocado, olive oil and nuts, unprocessed carbs (like vegetables, fruits and sweet potato) and small servings of protein is what helps most people feel and look their best. For extra support, you may like to choose a multivitamin such as a Swisse Ultivite Multivitamin – a combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and herbs to help support general health and wellbeing.*
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” While the number five may be a little specific for you, the types of people you surround yourself with can have a profound impact on your health and happiness levels.
A strong sense of community not only boosts your happiness, but it can also help you live longer. Studies into the world’s five ‘Blue Zones’™ where many people live to more than 100 shows that social engagement is a key factor of longevity. Many of the people in these regions belong to community groups which help enrich their social lives. To reap similar benefits, you might look at joining a group where you have shared hobbies or interests, or simply aim to get to know your neighbours or co-workers better.
You could also get involved in activities that give back to the community. This could mean volunteering in your local urban tree planting program, foodbank or organisation. Not only is it a great way to meet new people, but it will likely give you a sense of fulfilment that comes from helping others.
Remember, your quest to your happiest and healthiest life isn’t one that can be completed overnight. It’s not about giving yourself a complete lifestyle overhaul at once, as this can be unsustainable. Rather, try to slowly introduce new positive habits one-by-one. Soon your new, positive habits will become second nature!
* These medicines may not be right for you. Read the label before purchase. Follow the directions for use. Supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate.