1. Eat Better, NOT Less
A study by Mujcic, PhD and Oswald, PhD, published in American Journal of Public Health found that eating just eight more portions of veggies per day improved “life satisfaction” (based on general well-being, health, and outlook) the same amount as a move from unemployment to employment.
Could it really be so simple?
Despite our bodies requiring fresh fruits and vegetables daily, most Americans have very unhealthy diets (only 9% of adults eat enough veggies, and only 12% eat enough fruits--according to the CDC). Fresh fruits and veggies provide nutrients we simply can't find elsewhere.
Vegetables are low in fat and calories, have no cholesterol, and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Humans still need grains, oils, and meats, but it's important to eat the right ones--lean meats, fish no more than once a week, fruits, and whole grains, such as whole grain rolled oats. Restrict your salt intake by tossing that salt shaker and using wholesome herbs and spices in your dishes.
2. Stay Away from the Processed, Unnatural Stuff
Processed foods are cheap, easy to find, and last long in storage--unlike fresh food, which has to be tossed after days. But the human body isn't adapted for processed foods. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate mostly foraged vegetables, fruits, and starches, with the occasional meat from a successful hunt to keep us going. Consider switching to frozen bags of vegetables, or putting chopped fruits & veggies for the week in portions in the freezer to be thawed as needed.
3. Train Yourself to Stop Negative Thoughts
I know how much you hate hearing “just think positive!” as if it was that easy. Contrary to what some people believe, you can't just stop being upset… Or can you?
It’s certainly not an instantaneous process, but you can, with time, train yourself out of negative thought cycles. Your brain is a powerful tool! It can do almost anything you set it to.
Stress releases cortisol, which builds up and causes all sorts of nasty things: fatigue, weight gain, depression. How you think plays a lot into how you feel.
To start, stop retweeting those self-deprecating jokes. They're little things, but they signal your brain that this is an okay way to think of yourself.
According to an article, our brains are actually hardwired to store negative, bad, and off-putting things--for the sake of survival. In the wild, we'd need to remember exactly what a venomous snake looked like, but this instinct can certainly play to our downfall in the modern world.
For every bad thought, remember something good. A walk in the park, a moment with friends, the smell of cherry blossoms. If you can't do that, simply say, very firmly to yourself, “Stop.”
4. Be Grateful.
It can be hard to remember all the good things in life when your brain is actively working to make you focus on the bad. But take some time every day to “count your blessings.” Being grateful shouldn't diminish your feelings; if things aren't going well, grieve, move on, and find gratefulness.
5. Be Kind.
It's not an easy journey to live healthier and happier. Be kind to your body. It's doing its best, and so are you!