September 21 - 29 2020
Feeling the academic stress fast approaching? Fear not, we’ve compiled a 7 Day Healthy Habits Challenge to get you started on the path to self-care just in time for midterm season. It takes time to build habits, so we suggest trying each habit one day this week. Put the ones that work best for you on repeat for the next few weeks, and before you know it you’ll be reaping the benefits of a more energized and relaxed you!
Day 1: Take a break and walk
Long hours studying? Instead of reaching for that caffeine boost, get up, stretch, and walk around. Physical activity is not only great for your body, but it enhances cognitive performance, learning and memory. Take time out of your day to do some dynamic exercises or walk around for 10-15 minutes. Your body and your mind will thank you later.
Day 2: Stop screen time 1 hour before bed
Electronics like your phone and computer emit blue light that can disrupt your sleep schedule and have adverse effects on your eye health. Studies show that blue light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. Instead of scrolling through your feed, put down the phone and take some time for yourself. Read a book, plan out your day, meditate, or do some stretches.
Day 3: Go for Plant Power
Try eating plant based for a day. Eating more plants is good for your health and can help reduce your carbon footprint. Try boosting your energy with some fibre and nutrient packed options like greens, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. If you’re already eating plant based, challenge yourself to try a new vegetable or fruit (Trust us, there’s lots of cool fruit and vegetable options to try) Not sure where to start? Try replacing the meat in your meal with ½ or all legumes, like this lentil and beef bolognese or this super easy bean burrito.
Day 4: Eat a Balanced Breakfast
Eating first thing in the morning helps increase energy levels throughout the day, and curb cravings (it’ll also prevent that embarrassing grumble from your stomach in public). Getting a balanced start to the day is easier than you might think. Aim for protein and fibre for lasting energy to kickstart your morning. Try a make ahead overnight oats, or an easy breakfast sandwich for a quick and filling weekday breakfast. Not super hungry in the morning? Try a snack like fruit and handful of nuts, or a slice of wholegrain toast with cheese to start off the day.
Day 5: Do the stairs
You heard right! You don’t need to go on the treadmill to get your heart rate up. Improving your cardiovascular health will reduce the chances of developing diseases later on in your life. Include some cardio in your daily life by skipping the elevators and escalators and taking the stairs. If you’re at home, try running the stairs in your house or building a few times a day.
Day 6: Make water your drink of choice
Drinking more water helps with temperature regulation, energy levels and can reduce headaches. Not a fan of plain H2O? Check out our blog on healthy hydration for some great ideas on how to jazz up that water! Invest in a funky reusable bottle, and keep it with you. Having a bottle of water ready to go will encourage you to take more sips throughout the day.
Day 7: Plan a meal or two!
Even planning 1-2 meals or snacks a couple days a week can go a long way to building nutritious habits. Many people think that in order to meal plan you have to go all in with 3 meals a day, 5 days a week -- not true at all! Start small and be realistic. Try plan out a few weekday breakfasts or lunches, and prep a snack or two.
Even if you’re eating meals at home, portioning out and prepping ahead of time can help avoid the ‘empty stare’ into the fridge.
Here’s an easy example of a 2 day meal plan (that takes about 15 minutes on Sunday night):
Breakfast: Overnight Oats
To do: Make overnight oats after dinner Sunday for breakfast Monday and Tuesday
Lunch: Tuna sandwich with carrots and hummus
To do: Make tuna salad mix to keep on hand in the fridge, pre-portion hummus and carrots on Sunday night for an easy to grab lunch addition.
Snacks: Apples and trail mix
To do: Wash apples and portion out trail mix into reusable containers.
To end off a week of healthy habits, don’t forget to thank yourself for making wellness a priority all week long! And no, this doesn’t have to cost a lot of money (or any money at all!). Make a little time to do something you enjoy; take a long bubble bath, enjoy a specialty tea or coffee, read a book or magazine you’re interested in, watch a fun movie.
Habits take time to develop and become part of your daily routine. While not all of these habits may be right for you, but we hope that you enjoyed this week of small changes, and maybe you’ve found one or two worth sticking to!
Ratini, Melinda (2018). 12 habits of super healthy people. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ss/twelve-habits-super-healthy-people
Blue light has a dark side (2018). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side