Five health hacks for busy people

At the start of the New Year, millions of Australians vow to pay more attention to their health, but most give up on their resolutions by the month. If you want to buck that trend, maybe it’s time to try a new approach?

Here are five ways you can automate some healthy habits, giving you a better chance of sticking to your New Year health resolutions.

Want a New Year health resolution you can stick to? Try these health hacks for busy people. Click To Tweet

1. Set a bedtime alarm to get more sleep

Sleep is something you can’t ignore. Lack of sleep can seriously affect your concentration and mood. It’s also been linked to a range of health conditions, like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

But with so many things vying for attention during our waking hours, it’s often hard to get enough quality shut-eye to keep us functioning at our best.

These days you can take your pick from dozens of products and apps designed to improve your slumber. But, while it sounds obvious, one of the simplest ways to get more sleep is to go to bed earlier.

Smart phones allow you to set alarms for all kinds of things, and the Apple iPhone has a “bedtime feature” that reminds you when it’s time to hit the hay.

This feature allows you to set the wake-up time and the number of hours you’d like to sleep, the nights you’d like reminders, and when the phone should send them. So, if you have to get up each morning at 6:30am and want a solid eight hours of slumber – your bedtime is 10:30pm. It’s that simple.

However, if you are one of those people who really struggles to get to sleep (and stay asleep), you could go a step further and try an online program like SHUTi. SHUTi is designed to help retrain your body and mind for sleep through cognitive behavioural therapy.

2. Use a slow cooker and pack your portions before you eat

When life gets busy, it’s easy to reach for fast food – which can derail the best health intentions.

If you’d prefer to come home to a healthy, homemade meal and keep your New Year’s resolutions on track, why not put the trusty slow cooker to work instead of heading to the drive through?

Plan a few slow-cooker meals a week, then chop and measure the meal ingredients on the weekend and keep them in the freezer or fridge until they’re needed. Then, before you head out in the morning, put everything in the slow cooker and leave it to cook.

If you’re stuck for ideas on what to cook, check out this great list of slow cooker recipes from the Australian Healthy Food Guide. Always remember to check cooking times and make sure you’ve defrosted any frozen meat before it goes in the cooker.

Once your meal is ready, divide it into healthy portions – giving yourself one serve for now and packing the rest into portions you can save in the fridge or freezer for tomorrow’s lunch or another dinner.

Get motivated to exercise by counting your steps

3. Count your steps and join a challenge

Studies have shown that people who walk more are healthier and happier than those who don’t. And, unlike other forms of exercise, walking is free and you don’t need any special training. But if you want to strengthen this healthy habit, you can invest in a pedometer, app or device to count your steps.

Pedometers and devices like the FitBit measure electronic pulses each time you take a step, and multiply those by your pre-programmed stride or step length. As well as counting steps, some devices and apps also count distance covered, floors climbed and calories burned. This means you can use it to measure your movement throughout a day and compare it to other days or to set goals and targets. The best part is, tracking your movement usually motivates you to move more.

If you think you’ll need extra motivation to get moving, consider joining a walking challenge like Steptember, where you commit to taking 10,000 steps a day for 28 days and ask your friends and family to sponsor you. You can train and work up to it over the course of the year. The money you raise will help people with cerebral palsy.

Busy life getting in the way of your health goals? Here are 5 ways to get on top of your #health in 2019. Click To Tweet

4. Try a blood test subscription to keep tabs on your health

One health resolution many people make is an annual health check to monitor for risk factors such as heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.

However, this often gets pushed to the bottom of the pile when life gets hectic, given you need a series of appointments and visits – to the GP, pathology centre and, sometimes, back to the GP again.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia say another reason people put off health checks is because they don’t know how common some health conditions are, or what they should be tested for.

“There is a lot of burden of disease out there that is unknown,” he said.  “We know probably one in four diabetics are undiagnosed, and we want to get to those people,” Dr Harrison added. – extract from article in Medical Republic

To make health checks easier, you can now order a range of blood tests, including diabetes and thyroid online and collect fingerprick blood samples at home.

In addition to single order tests, MyHealthTest also offers a subscription service, which means you’ll save money on the cost of individual tests and receive an automatic test kit every few months, so you’ll never miss your next health check.

When you send back your fingerprick blood sample, you receive your results securely via an online results portal, which you can share with your doctor. This puts you in control of your health and means you can track your progress over time.

5. Integrate a meditation habit into your day

Stress has a big impact on many of us with about one in four reporting moderate to severe levels of distress. Stress can affect physical as well as mental health so it’s important to develop strategies and habits to keep stress levels under control.

Meditation is often recommended by psychologists to help manage stress, but sometimes it’s hard to find the time to fit it in.

So, instead of thinking about when you can make time for meditation, why not incorporate it into your daily activities? For example, in the moments before bed, sit upright, close your eyes and focus on taking a few deep, full breaths. Or you can listen to a guided meditation as you fall asleep.

You can also incorporate a quick meditation into your morning routine or even while you’re on the train or bus to work.

For more tips on how to manage stress visit the Australian Psychological Society or Beyond Blue.

In summary: keep it simple

New Year resolutions don’t have to slip away unaccomplished. Think about how some simple health hacks can help you reach your goals for next year and let us know how you go.

Comment below if you have some other strategies or if any of these tips have helped you.

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