For basic survival, humans require oxygen, food, water, shelter, and sleep. That’s it.
Of course, we desire more than to simply survive in this world. Humans also have emotional requirements, seeking accomplishment, affection, and a feeling of appreciation.
With modern-day life fixated on increased productivity and efficiency, guaranteeing the basic requirement of a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and sufficient water is becoming more of a challenge. Ask yourself, how many times have you been unable to sleep due to stress or anxiety, skipped your breakfast to save time, or realised that it is midday and you haven’t yet had a glass of water to drink?
Food is essential for energy, growth, and repair. Although everyone understands that a balanced diet is important, diets are unconsciously beginning to mirror the fast-paced modern lifestyle. With unhealthy food choices often much more affordable and less time-consuming than healthier options, the quality of the food we consume is becoming an afterthought.
Not only is the quality of food being overlooked, but often the basic requirement of three meals a day is not achieved. Today, breakfast is the most commonly skipped meal, with research revealing that a lack of time is a collective reason for skipping this significant meal. Yet, a skipped breakfast can increase the likelihood of depression, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
Unhealthy diets are shortening people’s lives, killing more than smoking and high blood pressure. Even though individuals are aware of the consequences of an unhealthy diet, they are still struggling to alter their routine. By making small changes to routines, and reviewing the basic requirement of a balanced diet, a happier outlook on life could be achieved. A focus on both the quantity and quality of food can help with depression and anxiety.
Often, if someone is struggling with their mental well-being, they may not realise just how much their diet could be a contributing factor.
A further basic requirement is water. Research has found that just one in ten people within the UK consume an adequate amount, with many individuals declaring that they are simply too busy to drink water, or claim that drinking water is boring. Yet a lack of water can affect energy levels, mood and focus.
Humans are guided to drink two litres of water per day, and it has been found that drinking adequate water is one aspect of good physical, emotional, and mental health. Therefore, ensuring that you are achieving this basic requirement could do wonders for your health. Small changes such as swapping fizzy drinks for water, drinking a glass of water before each meal, or even adding a water infusion could go a long way to achieving the recommended guideline.
It is not that people don’t understand the consequences of an unhealthy diet, lack of water, or sleep deprivation. It is perhaps that people simply struggle to find the time to plan or switch off from their day.
As with food and water, due to modern-day pressures, sleep is also becoming perceived as less important. Studies have found that one in three individuals struggle with poor sleep, with contributing factors such as stress, technology, and work. Not only does a lack of sleep affect your mood, but it can contribute to medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
With individuals finding themselves confronted with more and more tasks, there is an inability to set time aside to relax and reflect upon the day. Going to sleep at night is often the first chance many individuals have to unwind.
In addition to the demands of life, individuals are also choosing to sacrifice sleep for time with their family, or to spend additional time on electronics. Studies have found that spending time on social media or watching TV before bed reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone vital for sleep.
By taking the time to review your routine, to see if you are achieving the basic requirement of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, can help to improve your emotional balance, energy levels, and weight. By ensuring that a routine is followed by getting up and going to sleep at the same time each day, can vastly help to improve sleep. Although it may sound simple, it is surprising how many of us are not following these basic guidelines.
However, not only is the quantity of sleep important, but the quality of sleep is also significant. High-quality sleep can be achieved through deep sleep (REM sleep) and could have more of an impact on your overall health than the quantity. Deep sleep can help with energy restoration, strengthening of the immune system, and cell regeneration. To improve sleep quality, try setting an alarm half an hour before going to sleep. This time can then be used to unwind and reflect upon your day, in the absence of technology.
Out of the five basic requirements for survival, food, water, and sleep are within our daily control, yet modern-day life is weakening the significance of these.
Take the time to review your routine and turn back to the basics. How is your diet, your sleep pattern, are you drinking enough water? By evaluating each basic requirement, you could identify small ways to vastly improve both your physical and mental health.
Leah Bailie is an independent psychology researcher, who loves running and walking.
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