Some say it takes 21 days to form a habit; some say it takes about two months. But by focusing on the long-term, too many people forget about the importance of just getting started.
Improving your health isn’t easy. It takes work, research, and determination. But if you’re looking for where or how to begin, there are numerous simple habits you can form or short challenges you can take on that will have an impact quickly. Whether it’s a juice cleanse to detox and reset your body, a mindfulness practice to keep yourself present and focused, or a more concrete goal of drinking 10 cups of water a day, taking on a new challenge or practice can make a difference much quicker than you think. Here are a few actions you could take starting today to improve your health, whether it’s mental, physical, or both, in just a few days.
Make walking a habit
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of walking. Whether you’re heading out for a walk-and-talk with a friend, going to explore a new area, or simply taking a stroll to clear your head, you’re partaking in something else, too: exercise. So natural, and so easy, walking can be something we take for granted as exercise, but that doesn’t mean you’re missing out on the effects. It helps strengthen your muscles, build your core, and support healthy joints, and you can do it all with another purpose layered on top. So next time you need to go grab a coffee, consider walking there instead. If you get into the habit of walking places when possible or adding a 30-minute walk into your daily schedule, your body will repay you in the long run, and in the short term, you’ll reap the benefits as you enjoy your surroundings, clear your mind, and elevate your heart rate.
Challenge yourself to a juice cleanse
If you’re looking for a quick fix that’ll have a big impact, this is it. Juice cleanses are popular for those looking for a quick reset or detox, but they can also have a long-term effect, changing what you know about food, nutrients, and self-control. In the short term, by consuming only cold-pressed juices, you’ll likely drop a couple of pounds of water weight due to the lack of sodium in your juice cleanse and the decrease in calories compared to a person’s typical intake. A juice cleanse will also give your body a major boost in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and it may even have a similar effect to a gentle laxative in the first few days. Just be sure to do your research before you start to find the best juice cleanse for your lifestyle.
Drink more Water
This one is so simple that it’s almost hard to get yourself to do it. We’ve all been taught about the benefits of hydration (and the consequences of dehydration), but actually focusing on reaching that minimum of eight cups of water a day (or whatever’s recommended for you) is more challenging than it should be, and exceeding that recommended minimum? Sounds like a lot of peeing. But in reality, making hydration a habit is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’ll help regulate your body temperature, support joint health, maintain healthy organ function, and more. As for a quick health improvement? You may notice that drinking more water gives you more energy, as it increases circulation and oxygen flow to the brain, as well as taking a little of the workload off of your heart as it pumps oxygen and blood through the body. Less work internally = less energy. Get those eight cups in, and aim for more if you can.
Take time for mindfulness
This one won’t necessarily show up on all the lists of health tips, but it should. Practising mindfulness takes a little bit of discipline, but the truth is, anybody can do it. It involves you, possibly a guide or exercise (you can find plenty of them free online), and the present moment. It can help improve your mental clarity and concentration, not to mention your self-control, a tool you can continue to build on and use in other aspects of your health journey. So as you’re looking for quick health improvements, remember that mental health is health, too, and practice mindfulness.
When a plate full of food is in front of you, it can be hard not to scarf it all down as soon as possible. But if you’re looking to make an immediate change, you can start by simply taking a little more time to chew your food. Eating slowly helps digestion, partially because your food is more thoroughly chewed, but also because digestion is a process that begins when we first see or smell food; our stomachs have to prepare to welcome the food in and properly break it down, and when we eat quickly, we rush that process and send food down to an ill-prepared stomach. Eating slowly is also a common weight management tip; you’ll find that you give your body the time to actually recognize that it’s full, and you’ll probably eat less because of it and feel just as satisfied (if not more, as you’ve avoided the discomfort of over-eating).
This list of health improvement ideas is not all-inclusive, but it’s a great place to start. You have opportunities to challenge yourself, like with a juice cleanse or a mindfulness session, but also opportunities to bring new, healthy habits into your life. But the key to improved health overall is to find healthy habits that you genuinely enjoy. If you want to do it, if you look forward to it, doing something healthy won’t be a chore at all.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.