If you’re anything like me, you go into each winter expecting to brave not just the cold, but also at least two sinus infections throughout the months. Or if it’s not sinus infections, it’s something else; the flu, a head cold, or even seasonal affective disorder. For me at least, staying healthy in the summer when the weather is beautiful and the leaves are green isn’t a chore. It seems to come easily. But whether it’s summer or winter or spring or fall, staying healthy for 12 months of the year isn’t always simple or easy. It requires a little work.
While the saying ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’, isn’t exactly tried and true science, it does have the right message. There are always uncontrollable, health challenges that you might face no matter how healthy of a lifestyle you lead, but there are also numerous practices you can bring into your life to give you the best chance of staying healthy in the ways you can control. From adding sleep gummies to your routine to finding fun ways to eat vegetables, here are some of our favourite tips for staying healthy, both mentally and physically, no matter what month it is.
Drink water, but make it fun
My favourite health and wellness podcasters recently tried something they heard from their favourite health and wellness show and it stuck with me. A doctor on their show of choice recommended that you start your day by blending an entire lemon (outside, inside, and seeds) with eight ounces of cold water, plus ice and an added natural sweetener, such as frozen blueberries if you wish. Both of the women on the podcast I listened to tried it, loved it, and have now made it a regular practice.
Drinking enough water throughout the day is one of the easiest ways to help your body out in its quest for health, yet somehow, it’s also so easy not to. So try changing that water-drinking experience. You certainly don’t have to go to the extreme of blending an entire lemon into your water, but if you add your own little flair, you might find that water is much more appealing. Whether it’s adding lemon and honey (and maybe a dash of cayenne pepper), or infusing your water with fruits overnight, simply putting in the effort to make your water different could be enough to get you drinking it more. You don’t want to waste your own time, so just by making your creation, you might convince yourself to drink it all. Plus, it probably tastes pretty good. It’s hard to make water taste bad if you’re adding fruits. They’re nature’s sweetener, after all.
Do what you must to get enough sleep
We’ve all been told at some point in our lives about the importance of getting enough sleep. Usually, eight hours is the golden rule. And while everybody is different, and some thrive off of more or less than eight hours, there actually is significant merit to the idea of fueling your body with enough shut-eye.
That being said, getting to sleep isn’t always easy, but there are natural ways you can help your body out. Sleep gummies, for example, are a great supplement if you’re struggling to fall asleep at night. There are sleep gummies that contain melatonin, which can support a healthy sleep schedule; there are sleep gummies that simply promote relaxation and calmness, allowing you to unwind at night before bed; and there are sleep gummies that actually do just make you drowsy and ready to close your eyes. Do your research before settling on a brand, as you’ll want to choose sleep gummies with the right natural ingredients. Different blends have different effects, so consider whether you need relaxation or drowsiness in the evening before you make a purchase. And we recommend consulting with a medical professional to ensure the ingredients are right for your body and mind.
Make exercise entertaining
If you haven’t grown up active, or haven’t been regularly active for a long time, the idea of exercising can be extremely daunting. Mental images of a gym packed with the youngest, fittest people you’ve ever seen, all judging you while you attempt to make your body healthy, might come to mind. Or maybe you’re simply not interested in putting your body and mind through the discomfort of certain workouts. Well, good news: you don’t have to.
Staying active is crucial to your lifelong health, but it can come in any form. If you live in a walkable place (and you have the time), make it a practice to walk places rather than take other transportation. Or, find a podcast or audiobook you like, and start your day with a 30-minute walk. Experts recommend 150 minutes of activity a week, but that activity can come in any form. Put on your favourite playlist and dance around your kitchen. Join a local adult intramural league with a few friends. Get a bike, and make it your main form of transportation. Start gardening. Any of these practices can get you active and may change the way you view exercise. It doesn’t have to be gruelling. It can be fun and rewarding while also helping you stay healthy.
Eat the vegetables. Seriously.
Your diet plays a major role in your overall health, but it’s also one of the easiest factors to do wrong. With fast food and chemicals and preservatives and all of the tempting options out there that contain ingredients you’d never eat on their own, it can seem impossible and overwhelming and just plain unappealing to eat a whole, healthy diet. And while you don’t have to be perfect, it’s important to try. Starting with vegetables.
I say start with vegetables for a few reasons: they contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals, you can get them fresh or frozen (frozen being the economical option), and you can do just about anything with them. Goodbye, plain salads. We have the internet now, people. Search ‘ways to prepare (your vegetable)’, and choose one. You can do so much with a single vegetable that claiming you don’t like certain vegetables is barely a valid argument anymore. Have you tried marinating and grilling them? Steaming them? It’s time to replace some of those processed foods with vegetables. You’ll reap the benefits in the long run.
Live an 80-20 life
Finally, moderation is key. Some of the healthiest people I know gave me one simple tip they follow when it comes to their diet, and I like to apply it to a healthy lifestyle as a whole: 80% of the time, try to stay on track, but 20% of the time, give yourself a break and eat the cookie. Get takeout. Take a day to be lazy. Choose socialising oversleeping and missing out on a couple of hours. It’s totally ok to skip out on some of the key practices to keep yourself healthy; if you don’t, you might go a little crazy. Depriving yourself of all of life’s guilty pleasures isn’t the yellow brick road to a long, healthy life, and it can even backfire, leading to one succumbing to cravings (and we’re not just talking about food). Live a life full of healthy habits, but mix in fun and treats that don’t always follow the golden rules. Part of a healthy life is happiness and mental wellness, too. So if the things that bring you the most happiness (without being extremely detrimental to your health, of course) aren’t on this list, don’t be afraid to mix them in 20% of the time. You deserve to.
There’s no one tip that will be the secret to year-round health and happiness, and there are always uncontrollable, like genetics and external factors that can get in the way. But there are some simple steps that, when done consistently, can make a major difference in your health, from keeping you mentally healthier to avoiding the illness at the times of the year when you usually get sick. So try to work these tips into your life, and remember to have fun with them. It’ll make your quest for year-round health a lot easier.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.