It’s contradictory, isn’t it? The technology we have perpetually within our reach is designed to make life easier than ever before, yet finding calm and stillness can feel impossible.
We’re more connected than ever, but many urbanites complain of isolation. And all the informative health apps under the sun cannot stop the tide of increasingly processed foods finding their way onto our supermarket shelves.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that we increasingly hear of folks wanting to lead more minimalist lifestyles, attain greater mindfulness, and, ultimately, simplify their daily routines. For all the benefits of contemporary life (and there are many!), healthy habits can be tough to cultivate.
At BeWild! Adventures & Wellness we meet many visitors to British Columbia who are seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of their inner-city lives; people looking for that special revitalization that time in nature provides.
But are there simple changes to your lifestyle that can have a positive impact on your health? Minor adjustments that could bring some of that elusive balance into your days? We believe there are, and it’s inspired us to prepare the following blog.
We just need to add one caveat: every person is unique. Some wellness techniques and healthy living practices may yield better results for you than for others; some of our suggestions may not seem to work for you at all.
Experiment with your routine and try to always cultivate good habits that are healthy and enjoyable – when you’re enjoying yourself, it’s easier to stay motivated!
Get Back to Nature
Let’s begin with the subject that we know best: getting back to nature.
Is there any simpler way of clearing one’s mind and stretching one’s legs than a hike, or even a leisurely walk, in the great outdoors? The British mental health charity Mind outlines the numerous positive effects that time spent in nature can have on a person’s psychological well-being.
In fact, as more studies on this topic have been conducted, it has developed into its own formal branch of mental health treatment: ecotherapy. Walking in green spaces has been shown to mitigate some of the effects of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Not to mention that getting outside for nature walks contributes to the 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise that is recommended to us for the maintenance of good physical health.
If you’re based in the British Columbia region, or planning a visit, why not consider joining one of BeWild!’s Summer Hiking Trips for small groups – enjoy the beauty of Canada’s wilderness in good company.
But remember, getting back to nature doesn’t require lengthy journeys into the wild, a visit to a local park or green space offers many of the same benefits outlined above.
Eat a Varied Diet
One of the simplest ways of achieving a more healthy lifestyle is also one of the most straightforward.
Sure, breaking the habit of snacking on unhealthy treats can be really tough, but we must also be grateful for the access that most of us have to an array of different foods.
Take a trip to your local food store and you’re likely to find rows of fresh fruit and vegetables, alongside an endless range of canned and tinned goods. Additionally, after filing your shopping trolley, you only need to make a few searches on your phone to find hundreds of tasty recipes and suggestions.
The physical risks associated with a poor diet are well documented and we won’t go over them here, though it is worth your time reading into the links between diet and brain health.
A growing body of research is shining a light on the real benefits that a varied diet can have for your mind and sense of well-being. Easy-to-find foods such as salmon, walnuts, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, and even dark chocolate have been shown to aid the functioning of the brain.
If you’re finding it difficult to introduce more healthy foods into your diet or keep returning to the same old comfort foods, try keeping a food diary to better organize your meals.
Spend Time in Good Company
After two years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, the importance of maintaining a social life has been brought sharply into focus.
Though social media can be used to connect with distant friends and family, studies show that much of our time online is driven by compulsion. The most popular apps and social media platforms of the day can be habit-forming and, ironically, can heighten feelings of isolation and disconnectedness.
A recent article from Very Well lists 6 Reasons Why Friends Are Important. If you’re bad at checking in with friends and family, make a note to write to them more regularly. Make plans so you have events and activities to look forward to.
If you’ve maybe moved to a new city, or have lost touch with old connections, try joining a club or society linked to your interests.
And remember, this is not reserved for any particular age group! Whether you’re 18 or 80, friendships and meaningful connections are just as important.
In many ways, we’re reading more than ever. We’re constantly opening emails, reading Tweets, exchanging messages, and checking the news (and our personal newsfeeds).
But what about reading longer forms of writing? What about fiction? Studies have shown that reading can improve our mental health by increasing our empathy towards others, allowing us to escape into our own thoughts, and letting us slow down and contemplate subjects in a more meaningful, intensive way.
However, as stated at the beginning of this article, having fun is the key to keeping healthy habits as part of your routine. You don’t need to be wrestling with Tolstoy’s War and Peace if it doesn’t interest you.
Sign up at your local library or support an indie bookstore and find the books you love to read!
Get the Right Amount of Sleep
You’ve probably heard it said that 8 hours of sleep a night is ideal and the world’s largest sleep study found that to be almost entirely correct.
Scientists concluded that 7 to 8 hours of sleep was the optimal sleeping time for adults. What might surprise some readers is that going over 8 hours of sleep was linked to similar impairments in performance, focus, etc., as having had too little sleep.
Plan your day and leave a window of 7 to 8 hours to enjoy your sleep. Sleeping enough not only ensures you’ll be performing as well as can be at work but it’s also been shown to boost your mood and mental wellbeing, and help regulate core bodily functions such as your digestive system and immunity.
The same rules apply to exercise as they did to reading: ensure you’re enjoying yourself.
Forcing yourself out the door for a morning jog is unlikely to establish itself as part of your routine if you find the process uncomfortable. If you don’t like running, try swimming. If the gym is off putting, invest in a bike and explore as you exercise.
Like most of the choices on this list, exercise has been proven to promote bodily health as well as physical health. Through regular exercise, you’ll decrease your chances of developing conditions like heart disease and dementia, and you’ll likely find the exercise euphoric, so long as you stick to the activity or sport you enjoy most!
Enjoy a Clean Space
For many of us, tidying up is a laborious task and a stealer of our precious free time away from work. And at the end of a long day, it can be tough to spend time clearing up around your home when all you want to do is relax on the couch.
However, studies teach us that tidying up can improve mental health and increase our ability to focus on work.
Our suggestion is to begin small. You don’t have to set yourself the task of overhauling your home and conducting a big spring clean. Start by clearing your desk, cultivating a morning routine of making your bed, and perhaps ensuring that one room in your home is a minimalist haven, a place with an absence of visual noise!
Switch Off the Tech
Did you know that the blue light emitted by smartphones and tablets can interrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, causing you a fitful night’s sleep? And are you aware that many people are now so glued to their phones that they regularly wake up in the middle of the night to check social media?
It’s time to toss the tech aside! Increase focus, save time for the things most important to you, and shake off any fear of missing out. It’s likely that you spend more than enough time looking at screens and both your brain and your eyes could do with the rest.
Just think of the skills you can develop and the free time you could enjoy with a little less tech in your life…
On this note, our guide to simple ways of living healthy comes to a close.
If you’re feeling inspired to get active outdoors, then browse our selection of hiking day trips from Vancouver. We have activities suitable for hikers and walkers of all levels.
If you need some help choosing the right route for you, get in touch!