Easy life hacks you can still practice in 2020.

Your time and your health are undeniably two of the most precious resources you’ll ever have in your life, which becomes the most obvious when your life is full. When life gets busy with work and family, you may feel like your self-care gets dropped by the wayside.

A trendy buzzword, “self-care” can really live up to the hype when practiced regularly. Though it tends to get the most attention during periods of stress (which is a good thing!), self-care is also a form of preventative health care that can help you maintain your health, energy, and focus every single day.

When you’re living a full life or juggling an array of demands, keeping it simple and saving time are key. While big self-care actions, like a vacation or spa day, may not routinely fit into your life, a handful of simple health hacks can help you reap the benefits taking care of yourself brings. Here are 5 quick life hacks you can still practice in 2020 to support your physical, psychological, and social well being.

1. Tune in to what your body needs.

Have you ever forgotten to eat because you were so busy or ignored your need to pause what you’re doing to go pee? Though your efforts to give the task at hand all you’ve got shows an admirable work ethic, overriding your body’s natural needs can exacerbate stress, cause undesirable health consequences, and require medical intervention. For instance, routinely overriding the urge to empty your bladder can cause a urinary tract infection or incontinence due to bladder atrophy.

Health Hack: Make it a point to check in with how your body is feeling multiple times a day, listen with compassion, and respond to what it needs. Are you hungry? Do you need a bathroom break? Is your body asking you to stand up and stretch, take a walk to get fresh air, or close your eyes and be quiet for 10 minutes? If you tend to get deeply immersed in what you’re doing, consider setting a time once an hour to remind you to attend to your body’s needs, so it can continue showing up for you in the ways that you need.

2. Turn the lights down low.

If you’ve ever missed even one night of sleep, you know how difficult it can be to function and feel focused the next day. Losing sleep clouds our cognitive abilities and can make us feel short-tempered or edgy. On a cellular level, that good night of sleep is essential to help your body produce the proteins it needs to repair itself from damage and ward off serious health issues, like heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

Health Hack: To improve the quality of your sleep, experts recommend you nurture your circadian rhythms by becoming more mindful about your light exposure throughout the day. While bright light is recommended in the early morning and throughout the day to give you energy, reducing artificial light and screen exposure at night can help you enjoy a better night’s sleep. Try reducing light and screen exposure at least an hour before sleep, and creating a sleeping area that’s dark, comfortable, cool, and distraction-free.

3. Take fresh air breaks.

If you’re feeling cooped up, it’s time to listen. While spending too much time indoors is associated with increased stress, insomnia, and anxiety, spending time in nature or your city’s greenspaces is correlated with improved mental health and clarity and a reduced risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm labor, stress, and high blood pressure.

Health Hack: Whether you’re going for a walk or finally getting around to taking your trash out, step outside as often as you can to get fresh air and change the scenery around you, even if the weather isn’t so great. While you’re outside, you might pause, take a few deep breaths, add in some light stretching, or get an extra satisfaction boost by tackling a super small task, like pulling a few weeds or hanging the hose back up.

4. Never run out of healthy snacks.

What’s the first food you reach for when you’re stressed? While some of us may get so overwhelmed we forget to eat entirely, some of us get the “stress munchies” and snack on whatever’s within reach, even if we’re not feeling hungry. While taking a late lunch or reaching for a bag of chips instead of an apple won’t likely cause long-term effects, consistently missing out on healthy meals can take its toll on your energy levels and weight. Stress slows your metabolism, and blood sugar spikes from missed meals or a high-sugar diet can rob you of the energy you need to function optimally.

Health Hack: If stress tends to show up in your eating habits, the first thing is to be kind to yourself and then stock up on healthy meals or snacks that are easy to prepare and satisfying. As eating mindfully is associated with better digestion and healthier eating habits, you might also practice walking away from the task at hand and sitting down for regular meal and snack times.

5. Prioritize prevention.

When it comes to your best health, prevention is the best time saver to have up your sleeve. While bowing out of preventative self-care can feel like a time saver in the beginning, it can cost you more time (and money) in the end. Oral health issues, like cavities and periodontal disease, are largely preventable with at-home care and twice-annual dental visits, and can be easily nipped in the bud if caught early. On the other hand, the longer a dental issue is left untreated, the more time you’re likely to spend in discomfort and in the dentist’s chair to correct the damage.

Life Hack: Look for opportunities to sneak oral health into your daily life and routine. You can stash floss in your purse or desk drawer to floss between meetings, rinse your mouth with water after drinking wine or coffee, and block off your calendar to enjoy an hour of uninterrupted you-time during your twice-annual cleanings at your nearest Duvall dentist.

Self-care may feel elusive some days, but with a bit of willpower and creativity, you can sprinkle in actions that support your health, goals, and needs. To get the most out of your time, and support your best oral and overall well-being, contact our office to schedule your next dental visit today.