Adding new healthy habits can feel daunting...
Especially when you have a full schedule between long shifts and a family at home.
Not to mention that these days we are always being inundated with the latest eating plans, the newest organic super-food drink, trendy gym classes -- it can all be a lot. On top of being overwhelming in general, these things can add up in price. A healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be that way, and today I'm including seven ways that you can improve your health for little to no cost at all.
Be Physically Active
Now, you may already be on your feet for most of the day at work. But even if you are, we can always look to add more movement and physical activity to our day. You don't need a gym membership or personal trainer to move your body. There are loads of free resources on the internet for workouts that you can do at home with no equipment at all. You can also go for a walk or run outside when the weather is nice. If you wish, you can invest in minimal equipment, such as resistance bands, to increase the intensity of your at home workouts without breaking the bank.
Avoid Eating Late at Night
It's common for me to hear many nurses eating more food late at night. This can be true
for those working days or night shifts. It can often be due to not eating enough earlier in the day or eating less healthy choices earlier (which leave us craving more food later on). It could also be due to follow a diet type of mindset, where we feel like we have to be "good" all day, but then at night we want to reward ourselves for being "good". It is also possible that we are eating for other reasons than true hunger - such as boredom, feeling sad, happy, or even just out of habit itself. If we do find ourselves eating a lot later in the day, identifying the why behind that is important. But it's also good to know that our bodies have an internal clock, which is our circadian rhythm. Some research shows that our metabolisms and even our gut-bacteria peak earlier in the day. We can almost think of it as following the sun rising and sun setting. Peaking when the sun is highest in the sky. So eating earlier rather than later can be beneficial. At night, they help reset our system. This might mean that we are looking to eat less after 6 pm or at least, not eating a lot 2-4 hours before bedtime. This can align with the very popular Intermittent Fasting right now, where we might not be eating for 12-16 hours during the day. Starting off the day with a larger nourishing meal can provide our body with what it needs to stay energized, then if we can't take a break or lunch is rushed, we will be less likely to hit a point over starving or feeling completely run down. Then when looking at the evening meals, if possible, we can aim to choose lighter meals.
Take Cold Showers
Cold showers can stimulate your nervous system and improve your heart rate. Try to take a cold shower first thing in the morning—not only will it really wake you up, but it can also improve heart health.
Meditating is good for both the body and mind. Take time to meditate each day, and you will notice a dramatic decrease in your stress levels, which not only makes you feel happier and more relaxed but also improves your physical health. When we are stressed out, our bodies release too much cortisol— our stress hormone— which can increase inflammation and have negative effects on our physical health. By de-stressing, you can take care of your mental and physical health.
Practice Your Breathing
Take some time each day to completely clear your mind and focus solely on your breathing. Practice taking slow, deep breaths instead of the short and shallow breathing that we often unconsciously do when we're feeling stressed. This can also be part of your meditation practice.
Drink Enough Water
Water is the healthiest thing you can drink —and it is free. While there is no hard set rule on how much to have, a good rule of thumb can be to drink half of your body weight in oz of water each day. I know this can be tricky on work days, but having a hydration game plan, such as starting off the day with a big glass first thing in the morning can help. If you want to do a little extra, you can have a cup of warm lemon water in the morning to kick start your metabolism and make you feel like you started your day on a healthy note. That way, you'll be more inclined and motivated to keep up the healthy habits for the rest of the day.
Spend Time in Nature
You don't need to exercise outside every day, but you should spend at least 30 minutes in nature, whether you're moving your body or just sitting in the park. Spending time in nature is fantastic for reducing stress and clearing our minds. The fresh air is good for waking you up if you feel groggy or unmotivated. Especially, if you are stuck indoors working your long-shift!