Simple Tips and Life Hacks for Health
Healthy Living in HK recently celebrated its inaugural One-Day Blog-a-thon. Ten local health and wellness bloggers wrote about Healthy Living’s topic, “One small thing that has changed your life for the better.” We had an amazing range of entries from self-acceptance to the benefits of coconut oil.
In our busy lives, you have to start somewhere when lighting the spark to better health and wellness. Last week I mentioned sitting up straight at your computer desk, and here are my Top Ten Tips for small improvements you can implement right away.
1. Grab a green juice!
It’s easy to make your own, but even easier to click a few buttons online and watch your fresh juice arrive at your doorstep or at work. Several companies have popped up recently throughout Hong Kong bringing you fresh, raw, cold-pressed tastiness straight to you.
Mr. Green Juice has a lovely array of organic vegetable and fruit juices to boost your energy and get you going wherever you are in your day. The most savoury item on the menu is Doctor Green with kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, apple and parsley bottled up in a glass jar. Need something with a bit of sweetness to get by? Try the Choco Therapy or the fruity watermelon-based Skinny Me. No matter what you choose, you will be getting a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. As a bonus, you can keep the glass at your desk for when you need to fill up on some water.
Other notable juicers include Punch Detox, which now has a new concept vending machine on the first floor of the LHT tower on Queen’s Road Central.
Both companies offer delivery. If you really want to go for it, several juicing companies offer complete cleanses. See The HK HUB’s summary on juice detoxes for more information here.
2. Having a bad day? Reframe!
The art of reframing is gaining traction and aims to help you get out of negative thinking patterns. The idea is to step outside the box and see a problem from a new perspective allowing you to focus on solving the issue rather than dwelling on the feelings around it. For example, take the negative phrase, “I always get things wrong.” By analyzing the meaning behind your feelings you can focus on what you can learn from the experience. This is an especially good strategy for children and adults who tend towards less optimistic viewpoints. Soon you will be saying to yourself, “I may not have done this correctly, but I know a lot more than I did, and next time I will do better. This project allowed me to learn and grow. And, in fact, I did get a compliment on that one section.” Taking a step back and putting some distance between yourself and the problem can help you see the issue in a new light, leaving you with confidence, the ability to solve problems and a positive attitude.
3. Step up to the challenge!
When we enter a building or hop off the MTR, it’s easy to jump on the escalator whilst we are transported without moving to our next destination. Next time consider taking the steps. It’s no surprise that taking the stairs burns calories, pumps up your metabolism, boosts your energy, and saves the environment! What’s not to love about that?
4. Skip the sugars and sweeteners one time this week!
Not only is sugar highly addictive, but it can result in wild energy swings and hunger cravings, amongst many other unsavory effects. Artificial sweeteners have just as many downsides as sugar.
With temperatures remaining high, it’s easy to grab the first cold drink at the shops, which usually means fruit juices or frozen coffee drinks. For instance, a tall Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino has 9 teaspoons of sugar and a pasteurized orange juice has upwards of 6 teaspoons! Switching your sweet drink for ice water will save you from those awful rollercoaster energy swings during the day and help you realize when you are truly hungry for more sustenance. If you don’t find plain water palatable, try using a fresh squeeze of lemon, a slice of cucumber, or pinch of fresh basil to add a sophisticated layer of flavour. If you can’t do without the sweet try using whole food sweeteners including raw honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup. Stay away from highly processed chemically produced artificial sweeteners.
5. Go to bed early!
With our schedules full, sleep is generally last on our list. The number of hours you need per night varies on your age and other individual circumstances, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s important to take into consideration two major factors. Firstly, what is your body’s basic sleep need, and secondly, what is your sleep debt? If you are constantly over extending your long days, your need will be greater to make up missed sleep. For adults, the general range is seven to eight hours per night. The younger you are, the more sleep you need. For babies that can mean 12- 16 hours, primary school age children need approximately 9-12 hours, and then 8.5-9.5 hours for teenagers.
More important, however, is whatever amount of sleep you get, get it consistently. Go to bed at the same hour and get up at the same hour every day. Creating a pattern with your body will help regulate body function, decrease mood fluctuations and improve energy levels throughout the day. For power naps, turning on some relaxing music and resting with your legs raised can give you a boost if you are short on time. Your brain will work more efficiently and effectively for you when it has time to recharge.
6. Say NO!
Our time is precious, and Hong Kongers are particularly short on all things to do with time. We feel it necessary to work, volunteer, take care of our home and families, and then the rest (if there is any left) is for us to take care of ourselves. Saying no is an empowering experience that gives you confidence and time to reconnect with yourself.
So next time you before you say ‘yes’ to that new project, volunteer opportunity or lunch date, take time to consider what you are being asked to do, how it will affect you and what consequences there are to your time, energy and well-being. After contemplating those issues and making a decision, talk to the person directly either face-to-face or over the phone within a reasonable amount of time. E-mails and text messages are notorious for creating friction due to mixed communications.
Furthermore, a ‘no’ doesn’t always have to be black and white or constitute a rejection of the person requesting you to do something. Can you help in a smaller capacity or in a different manner? Would another alternative using your expertise serve the person more effectively? If you feel you must accept the task, ask for help! Prioritize what needs to be done and create a timeline. Consider a schedule of measurable smaller goals rather than getting anxious over tackling a large project all at once. If scheduling is an issue, there are some great time management apps.
At the end of the day, right before you go to sleep, think of three things that you are grateful and/or thankful for in your day or in your life. Positive thinking is powerful and contagious. Thinking about what is good in your life also leads to more satisfying and restful sleep. You can also be grateful if your life is facing difficulties. Why? These are opportunities to learn and reflect on how things can change for the positive. Formulate a plan and see what happens – perseverance only happens when you get tested, and it is one of the most important qualities to a successful person.
If you still haven’t found a small thing to improve your day, take a few minutes to connect. Connect with your friends, your family, a pet, yourself, your journal, anything that brings you satisfaction. You will spread happiness to others and increase your own wellbeing just by taking some time to ground yourself with the outside world. If you want to take it a step further, do a kindness. This doesn’t necessarily need to be for a stranger or giving money, but even small acts of spreading an extra smile or making eye contact while shaking hands creates positive results. Studies have shown kindness reduces stress, decreases negative feelings and is proven to help us live longer!
9. Create and Educate
Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Maybe there’s a hobby you used to enjoy as a child that gave you a lot of fulfillment? According to owner Michelle Abbott at Harp Services, a large number of her clients are adults who always wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument. If you can’t manage the time for lessons, try online. Free courses with Ivy League professors are now available from several sources like Coursera, Academic Earth, Udacity and CreativeLive. All have a range of classes from classical studies to brushing up on your business and creative skills. There are also several options for adult short courses through several universities and organisations. If you want something even less formal, pick up a hobby like knitting, sewing, painting, or model building. Not only do you produce something, but all of these options have the bonus of being done in a social atmosphere.
10. Get Outside!
Stepping outside in sunshine is an immediate mood booster, and the most effective way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D can affect mood and contribute to your risk of heart disease and cancer. Take stepping outside a bit further by connecting with friends for a walk on the beach or a hike. Join a group like Hong Kong Hiking Meetup for motivation, accountability and new like-minded friends interested in socializing, exercise and the outdoors!
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