7 Simple Ways to Increase Your Health

Did you know that the very act of smiling can benefit your mental health? So often people think that good health and happiness require great effort. They buy the most expensive vitamins. They think they have to engage in strenuous exercise every day to stay healthy. They seek out the “guru of the month” to help them navigate their way through life.

While all of these things, of course, can benefit you, the fact is, sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that can give us the greatest benefits. Here, then, are 7 simple ways to increase your mood and your health.

1. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Admit it, mother was right. Fruits and vegetables are good for you. They contain nutrients which help fight illness and disease. They also give you energy to confront the stressors in life. Remember to eat fruits and vegetables from all color groups (tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries, etc.); as the different color groups contain nutrients with many different benefits. And, if eating the required daily amount is too daunting, you might try juicing, which is a convenient way to consume the required amount of fruits and vegetables.

2. Sleep. That’s right, sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep helps the body to rejuvenate and allows one to work through their everyday problems through dreaming. How much sleep is enough sleep? Experts say the average adult needs between 7 to 8 hours a night (uninterrupted sleep being ideal). Teenagers need more sleep, about 9 hours on average. Can you function on just a few hours of sleep a night? Sure, but sooner or later the sleep deficit will catch up with you. And, consider this: research has shown people who sleep very little or too much tend to die earlier. Again, the right amount of sleep is important.

3. Get some sunlight. Not only can sunlight add to your mood, but it supplies necessary vitamin D. The body converts sunshine to vitamin D, which promotes the absorption of calcium, which in turn is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Of course, take precautions not to stay out long enough to get burned. Start out slow, about 5-10 minutes a day. Some experts recommend 10-15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week.

4. Practice some form of relaxation exercises daily. This could be in the form of meditation, self-hypnosis, imagery, or just simply sitting quietly with your eyes closed and taking three deep breaths. Sitting outside and just looking at the clouds is a good idea, too. The point is to slow down.

5. Before going to bed at night write down all the good things that happened to you that day, or perhaps all the things you’re grateful for in your life. Yes, you may have to really search for something good that happened, but take notice of anything, no matter how small. Even if it’s just a good parking space you snagged at the grocery store. Sometimes the act of noticing the small things gives way to bigger, more wonderful things happening in our lives.

6. Take a walk. Walking can have a calming effect, as well as giving you needed exercise.

7. Remember to smile, even if you have to force it at first. If you need help smiling, pick up the comics section of the newspaper, or turn on the comedy channel on tv. Smiling and laughing can have enormous benefits on your health and well being.

Now, of course, these are just simple things, but sometimes simple things can have great benefits. However, if you have serious depression or a medical condition, you should consult a professional mental health expert or physician.