The ‘New Year New You’ messages we’re bombarded with at this time of year can be daunting – but what if you could improve your health and happiness with very little effort?
Nutritional consultant MaryRuth Ghiyam insists very small changes, like spending 15 minutes in the sun every day, can make a very big difference.
“When it comes to wellness, I think it’s the small things you do on a daily basis that matter most,” says Ghiyam, who runs a supplements business in the US and has now written a new book – Everyday Wellness: 12 Steps To A Healthier, Happier You.
“Each of these actions will allow you to create a daily routine of micro-actions that connect to macro goals you find important to your life,” explains Ghiyam, who became interested in health and nutrition after the premature deaths of her father and brother, and her mother’s diagnosis with two benign brain tumours.
“A routine is something you can carry out within a 24-hour period to allow you to have the best quality of life you can, and these 12 actions will help you create an amazing routine that works for you.”
Here’s a look at the 12 steps Ghiyam recommends…
1. Liquids ’til lunch
Consume only liquids until lunchtime, and then eat three small meals a day at three main anchor times. Liquids may include options like a green juice, a smoothie, vegetable broth, coffee, or tea.
“Many people find that following liquids ’til lunch gives them more energy and focus, while eating at specific anchor times gives the body the control and certainty it needs,” says Ghiyam.
2. Chew food until it’s liquid
“Chewing your food until it becomes liquid is one way to help your digestion, as digestion actually starts right when you bite into a piece of food,” says Ghiyam.
She points out that chewing well means your body doesn’t have to take energy from your mind to digest your food, which leaves more energy for other things.
3. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water
This one’s all about hydration. Ghiyam says that if, for example, you weigh 120lbs, you’d drink 60oz of water a day. “This action is one of the simplest ways to feel better instantly.
Not being adequately hydrated can affect your mood, exhaustion level, and alertness. Water is essential for many bodily functions.”
4. Portion control
Ghiyam says portion control isn’t as straightforward as we might think, as eating the right amount is different for each person.
“Once you’re aware of what size meal you have and finding what I call your ‘zone’, you’ll probably find that eating smaller meals until satisfaction will increase energy levels,” she explains.
5. Eat healthy foods
Take a few minutes every day to check your fridge and food cupboards, to see what healthy food you have in and what you need to buy.
This is also a great time to plan your healthy meals for the next day, says Ghiyam, who adds that planning meals can help save money too.
“Eating more healthy foods is as easy as taking the time to open the fridge every day,” she says. “It truly comes down to having a good routine, staying organised, and time management.”
6. Get 15 minutes of direct sunshine each day
Ghiyam points out that vitamin D is an essential vitamin that’s crucial for both the mind and body, and the only way to get it is from the sun or supplements (especially during autumn and winter months in the UK and Ireland).
“Just like plants need sunshine to grow, people need it to support their mood and immunity,” she says.
“Sunshine is exceptionally powerful and healing, so I encourage you to spend time every day soaking it in.”
7. Sleep seven to eight hours
It’s important to have a bedtime routine as well as a daytime one, says Ghiyam, who stresses getting seven to eight hours sleep a night should be a priority for everyone.
“Just as creating an entire 24-hour routine is a freeing way to make time to do all of the things you love, getting enough sleep helps your body restore and regenerate to give you energy the next morning.”
8. Do 15 minutes of stretching
If you’re feeling lethargic or tired, taking a quick 15-minute stretching break will promote circulation in your body and may also improve your mood, says Ghiyam. “While this may seem like a small action, it can have monumental effects on your life,” she promises.
9. Do 30 minutes of exercise a day
Dedicating 30 minutes every day to exercise is a great way to help you get into a more healthy daily routine, says Ghiyam.
“Even if you aren’t feeling motivated, having this action as a regular part of your routine will allow you to start the process of doing things that you may not always want to do in the moment, but will help you feel better later on.”
10. Stress less
Help alleviate future stressors by taking control of your schedule and routine, suggests Ghiyam, who says doing simple things like making to-do lists can help you find time to do the tasks that may be causing anxiety.
11. Think positively
Try to take time every day to really check-in and ask yourself how you’re feeling. Ghiyam says: “Positivity is a choice your mind makes. We have control of our thoughts, so you can ask yourself how to have a more positive outlook during those mental check-ins.”
12. Believe in a universal force of goodness
Just as it’s important to proactively have a more positive outlook, it’s also important to be able to let go of the things we can’t control, says Ghiyam.
“Believing in a universal force of goodness – and it doesn’t matter what you call that force – lets you accept that though there are always things out of your control, there’s a world of good energy waiting for you no matter what.”
Everyday Wellness: 12 Steps To A Healthier, Happier You by MaryRuth Ghiyam is published by HQ on January 6, priced £12.99.