Health By Monica Pullman / April 26, 2017 Share Tweet Pin Share We’re surrounded by factors in our lives that can seem destined to throw us off course from a solid healthy routine. We lead busy fast paced lives that can afford little time for well planned and home cooked meals, enough sleep, exercise and time for all of the little things that count towards a well-rounded lifestyle. When we let things get out of control, we often don’t sleep well, toss our exercise routine to the side (and promise that we’ll get back on track “at some point”) and swap meals using whole, fresh ingredients for whatever is quick and easy. We don’t make room for relaxation or enjoying the benefits of time outside in nature and our priorities can get a little confused. So what’s a person to do in order to get back on track and put their health and well-being first? How do we put ourselves back into the driver’s seat of our own lives?Being healthy can mean a variety of things, and there are numerous ways in which to keep your mind, body and spirit in optimal condition. Here a few great ideas to help you take control and improve your overall well-being. 1. Stay Hydrated You’ve heard it time and time again but staying hydrated is a big deal when it comes to keeping fit and keeping organs in good working order. Think of water like a lubricant for your body the same way that engine oil keeps engine parts moving smoothly. Our bodies are made mostly of water, in fact, an adult human body, is about 60% water. Water is essential to giving our bodies the ability to remove waste regularly and properly, and getting enough water keeps our body’s largest organ, our skin, looking fresh and smooth. All water is not created equal, and if you’re worried about potential harmful elements in your tap water, or if you don’t enjoy the flavour, there are numerous filters on the market that can give you and your family access to clean, great tasting hydration. 2. You Are What You Eat The items we have that disguise themselves as food but offer zero nutritional value to our meals are mind boggling. Processed foods outnumber our options in grocery stores by incredible amounts, and we’re programmed to love salty and sweet offerings. We are built to enjoy the taste of fat, since our ancestors had little access to it and the small amounts they found could mean the difference between life and death. A diet high in these “foods” can lead to a whole host of unfortunate conditions including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and can lead to low energy levels and even affect your mood, giving you strong highs and lows as your body adjusts to (for example) sugar levels in the products.Wholesome foodIs fresh food. Buying local, fresh produce is relatively easy and provides you with the variety and nutritional value that our bodies crave. Visit your farmer's markets and establish good communication and relationships with the people who grow your food. Visit farms if you can, and be aware of the treatment that’s involved if you chose to eat meat. Meat Should be eaten in smaller quantities than fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes. Organic is typically best, but often the red tape that farmers need to cut through for the certification is overwhelming, so choose to buy from those whose values most line up with your own. Organic supplements and vitamins Supplements can fill in the blanks if you feel that you’re not getting enough of something important, like calcium, protein or Vitamin D. Carve a piece out of each day to research and cook interesting recipes, or experiment with a variety of fresh dishes to keep things exciting. 3. Make Time For People This sounds very simplistic but prioritizing your relationships over other things that seem important will go a long way towards increasing your mood and alleviating depression and anxiety. We rush here and there and often the activities we used to love and even our relationships suffer. If you’re part of a couple, it’s crucial to take the time to appreciate each other, whether that means a once a month cooking or dance class, a weekend away, or even one night a week devoted to trying a new restaurant. It can mean taking an evening stroll for a half hour every day or soaking in a bubble filled tub. Invite friends or family members over to your home for a visit or plan a lunch date. Take 15 minutes a day to focus on your kids with no distractions; this doesn’t mean doing something for them; it means giving them your undivided attention. It often feels as if we simply don’t have the time to spend just being together with our loved ones, but the truth is that when we do make time for them, all parties benefit. 4. Make Time For You Just as important as making time for other people is making time for you. When it comes to prioritizing, especially for women, we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the never ending list. We never get time to ourselves! Stop feeling guilty and indulge occasionally in an activity or a project that you love. 5. Get Enough Exercise Eating healthy and staying hydrated is great, but when combined with regular exercise, you’ve got yourself a home run. Some people shy away at the word exercise, but any form of activity that increases your heart rate will improve your health. If you’re not a runner or someone that enjoys going to the gym, take a nightly stroll or join an adult dance class. Go swimming, skip rope, join your kids on the trampoline, or join a sports team. Ski, take an aerobics class, or check out that local zumba class! Exercise can be as much fun as you make it, and if you take friends along for the ride it can be much easier to keep each other honest and stick to it. 6. Keep It Natural Many of our household cleaners and products involve a whole host of harmful ingredients. They can include harmful ingredients that we may not even realize are causing us to be ill or have negative side effects. At any rate, many of our trusted household brand names actually pollute both the environment and our bodies. It’s easy to make your own cleaning products using natural ingredients and a quick Google will give you a variety to try out. In most cases, you already have everything you need right in your kitchen pantry. Essential oils are often a great addition to many different cleaning products, and many have antiseptic or antibacterial properties that clean your home as well or better than any of the chemicals offered on the market. 7. Your Grooming & Beauty Products Just as with our cleaning products, our grooming and beauty aids can actually have very harmful effects, especially with regards to our skin and other organs. Many of our creams, lotions and soaps contain ingredients that serve as unnecessary fillers or offer synthetic fragrances to cover the smell of the harsh chemicals whipped into the recipe. It won’t take much digging to come up with a myriad of natural options and recipes that do the job of your store bought products without any of the harmful side effects. You likely have most of the ingredients necessary to make your own beauty products and the ones you don’t have are most often easily purchased. Essential oils are again wonderful additions and can provide you with many health benefits. If you’re not into making your own stuff, look for options that use natural, pure ingredients that you can pronounce, with no added fragrances or fillers. Small home based businesses are often good sources, and the owners are happy to chat with you about their products. 8. Since I Mentioned It... Essential oils have become more and more popular, and it’s for good reason. Oils can be great for restoring health and to improve our environments, including the air we breathe. There are oils that are perfect for your home or office diffuser, removing allergy triggers, and others that improve the condition of our skin and hair. Some oils would do well as additions to your medicine cabinet; they can open airways if you’re stuffy, soothe aches and pains, and even improve your mood with their energizing or relaxing scents. Use oils to improve the quality of your sleep, improve memory retention, and to prepare you for the day ahead. 9. Enjoy The Outdoors Most of us spend more time in front of a computer than we do enjoying the sounds and sights of nature. You don’t have to fully immerse yourself in a “roughin’ it” camping trip or chew on spruce gum to appreciate your surroundings (although if that appeals to you, fill your boots!) Taking a walk through a park or visiting a local creek or nature reserve is often enough of a mental break to make a big impact on the rest of our day. Breathing fresh air and having your mind stimulated by things other than technology can be wonderfully uplifting. Sunshine can certainly improve your mood, but nature provides beauty in other weather as well; being out in the rain can invoke memories and feelings from childhood, and a quiet snowfall can make you feel as if there really is magic in the world. 10. Don’t Forget Our Furry Friends I’m not suggesting you take this decision lightly, but often a family pet can not only give your life more purpose but can also lead you to get more exercise and invoke feelings of protection and love. Petting a cat or watching fish is known to significantly reduce stress levels, and the company of a beloved dog is like no other. Pet ownership is a huge responsibility, and there is certainly a lot of work involved. An animal can also cost a lot with regards to proper diet and even vet bills, but if you’re prepared and know what you’re getting into, a pet can help to give our lives meaning and help us to redirect focus from stresses and worries. 11. Drop The Toxins In Your Life I don’t mean the chemical toxins, although this is certainly important as well. Toxic relationships can have a huge impact on the way we feel and the decisions we make. Whether it’s family, “friends” or people at work, try to avoid those that don’t add to your life in a positive way. All relationships have their ups and downs, but there are people out there that seem to thrive off consistently causing grief or anxiety in others. You don’t have to be ignorant, but you do need to be clear that their behaviour is causing you grief. Don’t hang on to relationships that don’t provide some benefit and make you feel good. Conclusion The best part of your health, whether it’s your body, mind or spirit, is that you’re in the driver’s seat. Your decisions can have a good or bad impact on your well-being, and even if you haven’t made the best choices up until now, it’s not too late. Whatever level of health you’re experiencing can be altered by making even a few changes to your lifestyle. You don’t have to cut bad habits cold turkey, or even make all the changes in one great sweep, but a few changes over time and increasingly making decisions that will benefit you will end up having the desired impact. Lean on loved ones for support, and surround yourself with those that will cheer you to the finish line.