20 Surprising Little Things You Can Do to Start Feeling Better Today
Making changes in your life to improve your health can often feel daunting – especially when you are juggling work and family obligations. Take a little time every day to focus on YOU. These little tips are simple and manageable things that you can do every day to make you feel good.
1. Laugh! Positive emotions do more than make you smile. They can help your health.
2. Avoid heavy meals – weighing yourself down with too much food doesn’t boost your mood. Aim to eat your meals on time to avoid over-eating due to being famished.
3. Adjust your schedule so you have time to do something for yourself each day – it can be 10 minutes of reading your favorite magazine in the morning, 10 minutes of stretching to your favorite news program, or 10 minutes of reading and reflecting on a daily meditation.
4. Watch the caffeine intake. Avoid more than 300 mg of coffee a day, which is equivalent of one grande Starbucks coffee (16 oz). Although it may give you a boost of energy in the moment, it may make you more tired in the end by interfering with sleep. Make sure to evaluate if it’s impacting your sleep. It’s hard to feel good when you are exhausted!
5. Get a good night’s sleep. Make sleep a priority by setting a regular time to go to bed and get up. Remember to turn off electrical devices and the TV at least 30 minutes before your set bed time. On days where you’re really tired and you have the time for a 30 minute cat nap in the early afternoon, take it. For some people this is the secret to their longevity!
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – we all need a little sometimes! Try placing an add in your church, synagogue, mosque or community center for a few hours a week of help, or there may be a retired person or stay at home mom in your neighborhood whose kids are in school and is looking for some flexible hours. A couple of hours a week of help may take a big load off.
7. Stay hydrated. Don’t be a wilted flower – drink enough water throughout the day. Invest in a reusable water bottle you can refill as you go. Add fruit, mint or cucumber slices to your water to entice you to drink more. Not getting enough water can zap your energy levels and make you moody.
8. Get some fresh air. Whether you go for a walk or just sit outside and admire the sunset, 10 minutes of connecting with nature in some small way can help clear your head and ready you for the next task.
9. Try taking a gentle yoga class that works with specific populations, like people with arthritis or fibromyalgia. People often remark that they feel like they have had a massage after yoga. In addition to helping you stay centered and helping you remember to breathe properly, yoga may also help you make friends who share their health success stories with you.
10. Take a hot shower. Simple as that.
11. Eat 4-5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. You are what you eat – filling up with fresh whole foods will truly impact your energy, health and general well-being. Make a commitment to aim for at least 4 different colors of fruit, vegetables, spices or herbs a day. For example, if you have a mango blueberry smoothie with baby spinach, you’ve already got in 3 colors! Each color provides different phyotchemicals to your body, which help fight off different diseases.
12. Reach out to a friend or family member that can lend an ear. Sometimes just voicing frustrations and doing a little venting can make a world of difference. But remember: you can be your own best friend or worst enemy when it comes to feelings. Be sure not to defeat yourself with negative talk – focus on what is going well and what you can do to make things better. You have great ideas because you know your body, mind, and spirit the best!
13. Exercise regularly – stretching and staying active releases endorphins, gives you energy, helps you sleep and makes you feel great. Remember that your exercise doesn’t have to be all at once. 15 minutes of walking the dog + 15 minutes of a yoga DVD + 15 minutes of floor exercises like leg raises = 45 minutes! Break it up in increments if you’re just starting to exercise or when your days are super busy to make it realistic and achievable.
14. Evaluate what purchases make life easier for you! It could be something as simple as an electric can opener, or something more extravagant like a towel warmer which makes you feel relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep after a bath or evening shower.
15. Kick the smoking habit and cut down on alcohol – nothing about smoking is good for you. Too much alcohol not only increases your risk of several types of cancer but for some people can interfere with sleep and can contribute to excess calories or gastric reflux.
16. Keep a food and feelings diary. Writing in a journal can be very therapeutic. It is also a great way to see if certain foods are triggering joint pain or if certain times of the day are associated with less positive feelings leading to unhealthful behaviors like skipping meals, stress eating or anxiety.
17. Lose weight if necessary – less weight on you is less stress on your joints. Make an appointment with a registered dietitian nutritionist (known as RD or RDN). Ask your doctor for a referral and find out how many appointments your insurance plan covers. If you can work with a RDN who specializes in RA and/or wellness coaching you could be on your way to losing extra pounds and learning about foods that may help improve your overall health and symptoms.
18. Take breaks – even if it is just closing your eyes and doing some deep breathing for one minute. Taking breaks throughout the day helps you keep perspective and stay calm – try breathing in for 6 seconds and exhaling slowly for 7 seconds. Or take a break by making it a habit to get up and walk to the rest room once every hour or 90 minutes. Use this as a cue to tighten and relax each muscle in your body – this will help let go of tension and stress.
19. Talk to your doctor – if you have a concern, don’t just sit and think about it – or worse, over-Google it. Use trusted sites like rehumatoidarthirtis.net and talk to your doctor to put your mind at ease.
20. Attend a RA support group for more good ideas. You’re not alone. Talking to others will give you even more great tips for feeling great.
It’s often the little things that make the biggest difference. Start making small strides toward big rewards today!