10 Easy Health Decisions That You Probably Aren't Doing But You 100% Should Be

10 Easy Health Decisions That You Probably Aren't Doing But You 100% Should Be

Simple changes in your lifestyle can give you the biggest results!

As of 2017, the health and wellness industry is estimated to be worth about 167 billion U.S. dollars, and a four million dollar increase can be expected by the end of the year. 21st century America loves to overcomplicate health and mooch off of insecurity created by years of toxic, unrealistic expectations seen in media. I truly believe that in our deepest of hearts, most people know what they need to do to be the healthiest version of themselves, but don't because the allure of the newest diet or detox overpowers the small voice of reason.

As a very active person myself, I have been around the block and back with many of these health fads, and am here to educate you on what small, everyday decisions you should make if you want to be healthy. Not skinny, not ripped, but truly healthy in body and soul.

1. Make your water bottle your new best friend

There is a huge debate going on in the health community right now about how much water one should drink in a day. Should you drink only when you're thirsty? Should you drink before you get thirsty? 10 cups? A gallon? The numbers and statistics are all over the board right now, but the truth is that the numbers will fluctuate based on the person's height/weight, dietary needs, and lifestyle!

For instance, the recommended amount of daily water intake for adult men is 13 cups, but for women, only 9 cups. Obviously, these numbers will be higher for people with active lifestyles or certain illnesses. But generally, most people can drink enough water to meet their personal needs by drinking when thirsty. Any way you measure it, proper hydration is vital to good health.

2. Balance your food, and enjoy it too

When you think of healthy eating, what comes to mind? Diet plans? Restricting and counting calories? All green everything? Well, put those ideas aside and educate yourself on what a balanced diet really means! Keeping tabs on your macros (carbs, proteins, and fats) and micros (vitamins and minerals) is really all that healthy eating boils down to. Most people know the 2,000 daily calorie intake recommendation and can stick to it, but where they fall short is what those calories consist of.

Some people get the most energy from a 40% protein, 30% carbs, 30% fats diet, while others prefer a more even spread. Either way, you must supplement your macros with vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies. Find healthy, balanced foods you like and stock up, but don't forget to include those "treat foods" you like from time to time! A healthy diet does not mean a completely restricted one!

3. Exercise the way you want to

Crossfit, PureBarre, extreme yoga and P90X are all really popular exercise regimens. While they look cool and can often build insane amounts of muscle and strength if done correctly, not everyone enjoys or has time for a vigorous workout that requires wholehearted devotion. But, I have great news, you can exercise however you'd like! Take a stroll in the park, dance around your room, rollerblade, go for a swim, play some soccer, clean your house!

Exercise comes in many forms and levels, and there is something out there for everyone! As long as you are getting in some form of activity every day, you'll be good to go and your heart, body, and mind will thank you for all the endorphins!

4. Check in with your emotional and spiritual self

Health is not just about your physical body! The parts of us that cannot be seen are the hardest to maintain. We can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives that we forget to address the part of us that manages emotions and spirit. No matter how busy you get or how stable you feel your emotions are, it is imperative that you take time out of your day to pray, meditate, and reflect on the most personal parts of you! For people struggling with mental illness, this is often the single most important health tip to follow.

5. Get enough sleep, but not too much

Hardly anyone gets enough sleep these days, but especially college students like myself. We stay up late doing homework and studying for tests and get up early for classes and other extracurriculars. Trying to find enough hours to sleep is almost impossible, and yet, it must be done. You might as well be drunk if you haven't had enough sleep. Your perception is impaired, your thought processes become foggy, and everything is just harder to do.

When you know you need the extra shut-eye, you may just have to put a project down for the night in order to function the next day. If you are on the opposite end of the spectrum and sleep like a bear in hibernation, it is important to keep track of how many hours you are sleeping and check in to see if this is a healthy amount for you. There are many illnesses that can cause drowsiness, so it is important to check in with your doctor about your sleep habits.

6. Get your gut some good bacteria

A probiotic is something that is often seen as a health fad product but is actually very important for your gut (especially if you are taking antibiotics). Probiotics help boost your immune system, keeping you protected from many different common illnesses! They are also known for aiding in weight loss. These helpful bacteria can come in pill form or in a powder mix, so they're super convenient and easy to take!

7. Unplug before bed

Power off your phone, close your laptop, and turn off the TV! The artificial light from these devices can mess with your circadian rhythms and disrupt your sleep patterns! Try an electronics-free activity before bed like reading, journaling, or just listening to music.

8. Have fun in the sun

Exposure to sunlight is so important for everyone, and yet so many of us spend our days in dark, cold buildings! You get Vitamin D from spending time in the sun, so go soak it up! Vitamin D is said to lower cancer risk as well as improve bone health and overall mood! If you can't find the time to catch a few rays, a Vitamin D supplement might be right for you.

9. Drink responsibly

If alcohol is a part of your lifestyle, it can absolutely be enjoyed in moderation. But, when drinking becomes daily and excessive, you increase your risk of liver and heart disease, brain/nervous system damage, stroke, and numerous cancers. Red wines are the best option for your body since they are relatively low-calorie and have been proven to promote heart health.

10. Use your spice rack

Not only will herbs and spices bring out the flavors in your food, but many of them also have great health benefits! Cinnamon lowers blood sugar, peppermint relieves pain in the digestive tract and nausea, and turmeric is an anti-inflammatory! A simple Google search will give you dozens of new natural remedies to try with things you have in your cabinets!

Health and wellness does not have to be scary, complicated or extreme! Simple changes in your lifestyle can give you the biggest results! It is so important to remember that health is not defined by rippling muscles, how much you can bench or how far you run. Health is individual to each person and is a comprehensive measure of how smoothly and efficiently the body, head, and heart function together. Keep these things in mind, and you'll be well on your way to the healthiest, happiest, most productive you that you can be!

Cover Image Credit: Ella Pitman

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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The Path To Self Love

It's a beautiful and hard journey but the reward is so worth it


Like many of us, I tend to rely on other people and their opinions way more than my own. Stopping that? It's easier said than done but it's possible. You'll never fully be able to stop caring about what other people think but you can care a little less. How?

Building up your self-worth and confidence. That task is probably one of the hardest ones that I've ever had to tackle and am still figuring out.

Loving yourself can mean so many different things but at the end of the day it really means just being able to be your own happiness. So many people rely on others for happiness instead of themselves. That's just not it. We do this to ourselves but what happens when that person or group of people leave us? Then our happiness that was revolved around being with them is all gone. I've learned this life lesson the hard way and while it hurt like hell, I needed that. I had to learn that if I can't be happy by myself then I'll never fully be happy.

Sydney Mergler

Now, I know body positivity is becoming a thing right now but that doesn't change the fact that people still don't always feel one-hundred percent confident in their body. I personally have been struggling with my body image for years and finally have started to work on it for me. Not because I hate my body now, but because I want to get fit for me. It's been a struggle figuring this out and it's taken me years but I finally know what my end goal is and am working towards that. I know it's going to take me a while to reach it but at least I'm working towards a goal now and loving it at the same time. In fact, I feel so much more confident because of it.

Toxic friendships? Just break them. Do yourself a favor and don't dread on it, just drop them. You don't need the extra headache or drama. Life is hard enough as it is but having friends who are negative, disrespectful or just only look out for themselves makes it ten times harder. I'm not sorry for the friends I've dropped because if they really had wanted to keep the friendship, they would've treated me better.

Sydney Mergler

Over-apologizing? Just no. Let's not do that. For what? If you don't mean it, don't say it. There is no reason to apologize for something you either don't think needs to be apologized or you don't feel bad for. In the past, I used to apologize for every little thing and it drove me crazy.

On my path to self love, I've learned so much about myself already and I can't wait to learn more. I've learned I missed music, missed writing, enjoy yoga and other forms of exercise and so many other things. I've stopped holding on to things and people that aren't good for me and have started to let go of the past. Loving yourself can be a real challenge but at the end of the day it's the best thing you can do for yourself. You can't ever expect anyone to love you either in a romantic way or friend way without loving yourself. If you can't see the beauty in yourself how can you expect others to?

Sydney Mergler

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