Not every step towards a healthier lifestyle needs to be a huge one. Here we offer five challenges that will help to improve your Whole Health.
Give two hours back to the community
Not only does volunteering help the cause you’re working for, but it also helps make you happy – a 2020 study by the Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who started to volunteer became happier over time1 – filling you with a sense of fulfilment and contentment. Depending on what you choose to do, it can provide an outlet for physical activity, and it can also help fight loneliness, as you’re joining a strong community that surrounds every charity or not-for-profit. But we’ve all got busy lives and family and work commitments can make it hard, so don’t over commit to begin with, so this month, make a start by giving just two hours back to your community. This could be anything from helping with a community garden, a shift at a local youth club or even helping to coach sport at a club in your area.
Get back to nature
Call a friend or family member you’ve not spoken to for a while and plan a walk in the countryside or a green space you’ve not visited before. Studies have found that spending a minimum of two hours a week outside in nature is good for you2 and, again, combined with the exercise and social interaction, it hits the spot for several Whole Health goals. You can also turn it into a family activity by challenging everyone to spot five things: a specific type of bird, tree or insect perhaps.
Have a non-tech day
Technology helps our daily lives in so many ways, but it can have a negative impact, including being detrimental to a good night’s sleep3 and over-use of social media platforms has also been linked with social isolation4 and depression5, so this month down digital tools completely for a day. No computers, no mobile devices or tablets, and no television. Go back to basics, get out in the great outdoors, spend time doing activities at home that engage and de-stress, re-connect with friends and family, while you disconnect from the internet.
Commit to two no-spend days
We all have spending habits that are almost sub-conscious: grabbing a coffee on the way to work, picking up lunch, or buying snacks at the train station. So, to try and get to grips with your outgoings – and indeed to reduce them a bit too – this month aim to have two ‘no-spend’ days, literally don’t spend anything online or in-person. Cut out the commuting coffee – (bring it from home in a reusable cup); take a healthy lunch into work; don’t visit your favourite online shopping site. Trying this exercise twice in a month will give you some idea of where and how you spend your money and put you in a good position to begin reassessing your financial situation.
Put pen to paper
Journaling has become increasingly popular in recent years, seen as a positive outlet that helps reduce stress and also gives people focus in achieving their goals. Studies – including this one from the Journal of Clinical Psychology6 – have proven that it helps with your mental well-being. It does this by being an outlet for you to order and consider your thoughts. It’s not about poetry, although it can be, if that suits, it’s about sharing your thoughts on paper, and being able to consider everything from starting and achieving goals to solving problems. Writing down what you’ve achieved in a day, or what you’d like to achieve, can boost your mood, and make you self-aware in a positive way. If you’re not sure where to start when faced with a blank page, you can even get journals with certain structures and prompts to help you on your way to decluttering your mind and making positive changes to your life.
1 - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-020-00242-8
2 - https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3
3 - https://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1232
5 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5143470/