The simple things robbing you of feeling your best

You don’t need to overhaul your life to be healthier. These easy lifestyle swaps can make a huge difference.

With a busy calendar of family, work and social obligations, the idea of anything complicating your life is probably not appealing. The good news is that improving your health and wellbeing can be pretty simple – small adjustments can have a big impact over the long term.

So, what is wellbeing, and why should you make it a priority? It’s broader than most people think; a combination of physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Since those all influence your happiness and quality of life, it’s definitely worth investing time and energy to feel better.

“Often it’s the simple things that can make all the difference in improving how we feel,” confirms accrediting practising dietitian Jaime Rose Chambers.

Here are some of the common, everyday choices that could be getting in the way of you experiencing good health and wellbeing, and simple ways to turn them around.

Swap low-nutrient foods for healthy eating habits

92 per cent of Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegies – which means the vast majority of us are at higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and weight problems. Increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and improve your ability to fight disease. Aim for at least five serves of vegetables (a serve is about half a cup of cooked vegetables) and two pieces of fruit each day.

If you’re struggling to get enough, consider swapping one or two meals a week for vegetarian meals to really boost the family’s vegie intake.

Swap sitting for moving more

Spending too much time sitting can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure as well as mental health and wellbeing conditions such as anxiety and depression. Swap some of your evening couch time for a 30-minute walk or bike ride – or something like dancing, gardening or swimming – ideally five times a week.

“Exercise releases those lovely endorphins or happy hormones that make us feel great,” confirms Chambers.

Swap screen time for green time

Spending too much time indoors isn’t good for mental health and wellbeing, so make sure you’re getting out in the garden, park, bush or beach on a regular basis.

“Being out in nature has been shown in research to lift the mood of people with mood disorders, known as ecotherapy,” says Chambers. “Nature is said to have a soothing effect on the body, calming down the fight or flight response and distracting the mind from negative thinking.”

Swap excess booze for hydrating drinks

Cutting down your booze intake can hugely improve your wellbeing.

“Drinking too much alcohol puts the brakes on production of our happy hormones, affecting our gut environment and disrupting our sleep, often making us feel lower and more tired in the long run,” Chambers explains.

It’s easier to replace a habit with something new rather than cut it out entirely, so why not swap that beer or wine with a hydrating drink for extra health benefits (think: sparkling water, milk, herbal tea). 

Swap FaceTime for real time

Prioritising time with close friends and family is vital for health and wellbeing, supporting your immunity and improving your mental health.

“Connecting with others, creating strong ties with family, friends and the community, having someone to talk to can provide emotional support, a sense of belonging and purpose,” Chambers says.