Two Birds, One Stone: 4 Healthy Habits with Multiple Benefits

  • By Jennifer Mulder
  • 27 March 2017
  • 3 minute read
Two Birds, One Stone: 4 Healthy Habits with Multiple Benefits | The Health Sessions

Healthy living can feel like a lot of work, especially when you start your wellness journey with full enthusiasm, trying to add every advice to your health repertoire: moving your body regularly, upgrading your food pattern, quitting bad habits like smoking or drinking, adopting natural wellness rituals and a daily meditation practice.

How do you find the time and energy to fit that all into your already busy schedule?

Well, partly it’s a matter of setting priorities of course. We’re all guilty of mindlessly browsing the net, binge-watching series and being busy for busy’s sake. If that’s the case, you could try things like the Power Hour Method to get a healthy head start on your day. But if you lack the necessary ‘spoons’ to do so – or you have little ones running around who make a dedicated morning routine impossible – you can also add multifunctional healthy habits to your day.

A multifunctional habit is a helpful behaviour that serves more than one purpose. In other words, you get multiple health benefits from performing one single routine. 

For example, by doing your groceries on foot, you combine a necessary chore with a brisk walk, fresh air and hopefully some sunshine. Plus, you can’t thoughtlessly throw ‘great discount offers’ of not-so-healthy food items in your shopping cart, because you’ll have to be able to carry everything home eventually.

So which multifunctional habits could help you lead a healthier lifestyle in an effortless way? 

4 Multifunctional Healthy Habits

1. Mindfulness

It’s been the buzzword of the past few years for a reason: mindfulness has multiple benefits for your health and happiness. Being fully present in the moment and paying attention to your inner dialogue and bodily sensations relaxes your body, calms your mind, fosters positivity, improves your immune system and your mental focus.

One of the best things about mindfulness is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. You don’t need any fancy equipment or advanced course to observe non-judgementally whatever you’re thinking, doing and experiencing. Everyday routines such as washing your bowl, drinking tea or brushing your teeth can become recurring moments of mindfulness. Other people find that listening to classical music, keeping a gratitude journal or mindfulness in motion, like tai chi, yoga and walking meditations, works well for them. For a more purposeful practice, you could also perform a mindful body scan or recharge yourself with mindful micro-breaks – whatever ritual helps you to turn your attention inwards and appreciate the moment for what it is.

2. Moving Your Body Outdoors

We all know that sitting down all day – in the car, behind your desk, at the table, on the couch – is hurting our health. Gently moving your body for at least 30 minutes each day is vital for keeping your heart and muscles strong enough to carry oxygenated blood to your tissues, improving your metabolism, reducing inflammation and staying mentally sharp.

But instead of hitting the gym, why not take your workout outside on dry days? Compared to running on the treadmill or using machines, exercising outdoors combines the goodness of breaking a sweat with fresh air, vitamin-D producing sunshine and the mental health benefits of being in natural surroundings. Studies show that a simple walk in the park can ease mental fatigue, reduces stress and improves your mood. Spending time in nature can even improve your immune functioning and lower your blood pressure. Finally, exposing yourself to natural daylight synchronizes your internal body clock, helping you to sleep more soundly at night.

You can do any outdoor activity you enjoy, from a leisurely stroll or bike ride to going for a run, swimming in the sea or having friendly football competitions with your mates. If you’re sporty and adventurous, you could give things like rock climbing, canoeing, iceskating or surfing a try. Bonus points for exercising in green spaces!

Two Birds, One Stone: 4 Healthy Habits with Multiple Benefits | The Health Sessions

3. Getting Enough Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is the foundation of your physical and mental health. Your body needs plenty of refreshing sleep in order to recharge, recover and rebuild. During your sleep, your body may seem dormant, but under the surface it’s busy repairing tissue, healing wounds, strengthening your immune system, renewing cells and storing information into your long-term memory.

What’s more, you need to get plenty of shut-eye to increase your chances of sticking to healthy habits. A lack of sleep makes it hard to resist those French fries calling your name, because your sleep-deprived brain will crave fatty foods to fight off sleepiness – and won’t have enough self-control to stop you from digging in.

So don’t overlook the not-so-sexy aspect of restoration in favour of exercise regimens and diet overhauls when you start rebuilding your health. Cover your bedtime basics – a dark, quiet and well-ventilated bedroom, a consistent sleep schedule, cutting down on caffein – and try these unconventional tips to beat insomnia and get 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.

4. Veggies with Most Meals

Eating vegetables with most meals, instead of trying to consuming 250 grams over dinner, is a good example of ‘crowding out’: if your fridge and belly are filled with colourful, vibrant produce, there’s less room available for unhealthy foods. By focusing on adding nutrient-dense veggies to your meals, you also automatically make healthier food choices – it’s easier to add greens to an omelet or smoothie than a bowl of sugary cereals.

Starting your morning with a veggie-packed breakfast also is a great illustration of a keystone habit – a habit that has a positive domino effect on other decisions you make throughout the day. So eating veggies for breakfast and lunch not only replenishes your body with vitamins, minerals and health-boosting phytonutrients and boosts your happiness, but it also sets the tone for your overall lifestyle.

For inspiration on how you can easily slip more greens into your diet, check out these 40 delicious ideas to eat more vegetables every day.

Do you have any multifunctional healthy habits to effortlessly lead a healthier lifestyle? 

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