Why You Should Take Care of Your Body and Health

Taking a walk with a friend is a good way to be sure the walk happens. Matt Dutile/ Getty Images

If your health fails, it can overshadow everything else that’s going on in your life. From relatively minor health issues such as aches and pains, lethargy, and indigestion to major health problems that can threaten your existence, health can really affect happiness and stress levels. Making a commitment to taking on healthier habits this year can have a far-reaching payoff: you’ll feel better in everything you do.

Here are a few healthy habits that carry a big impact:

Eat A Healthy Diet For The Right Reasons

Rather than eating right solely for the promise of looking better in your jeans, you should also make a commitment to eating foods that will boost your energy level and keep your system running smoothly. This is because what you eat can not only impact your short-term and long-term health, it can affect your stress levels. If you're hungry ur malnourished, you may be more emotionally reactive to stressors, or may not have the reserves to handle what comes up as efficiently as you would if you were operating on a full stomach of healthy food. Watching what you eat can be a stress management tool as well as a health preserver.

Another reason it's a good idea to maintain a healthy diet for these reasons is that your diet has a more immediate effect on your mood than on the number on your scale. If you eat a poor diet, you may feel lethargic, jittery, or moody in a matter of minutes or hours, while it may take a greater buildup of unhealthy meals to make a difference that can be seen on the scale.

This means that there's a more immediate consequence to a poor diet. Conversely, you may also feel more energized and optimistic when you're eating right, so this is a more constant and immediate reward for eating well than a change in clothing size. If you remind yourself that what you eat now will affect how you feel in the coming hours, it may be easier to stick to a healthy diet.

Make Sleep A Priority

Make a commitment to get enough sleep at night. If you haven't gotten adequate sleep, you may be less productive, less mentally sharp, and otherwise more prone to the effects of stress. Carve out a full eight hours, avoid caffeine after 2pm, and adopt a calming technique such as meditation, and let your body restore itself each night. You may be surprised by how much less stressed you feel when you're not tired if this is an issue for you right now.  And use these proven strategies if you have trouble getting quality sleep when stressed.  You’ll feel better all day.

Find A Fitness Habit That Works For You

We've all heard the advice to "eat right and exercise," but can be difficult to fit in workouts around a busy schedule, particularly when you're feeling exhausted from stress.  One proven strategy for making fitness a regular part of your life is to build an exercise habit around your other habits--either attach a workout to your morning routine, your lunchtime habits, or make it a regular part of your evening--you get the idea.  If you make a morning jog part of your getting-ready-for-work routine, for example, it is much more likely to happen than if you wait until you feel like jogging and happen to have a free half-hour, especially if you lead a busy life like most of us and are tired at the end of the day.

 Another important way to make exercise more easy is to choose an activity that you actually enjoy--walking while listening to an audiobook, for example, or attending a class at your gym where good music drives up your energy level.  Look for something you'd like to do, find a time when you can make it work with your schedule, and go!

Watch What You Put Into Your Body

Avoid putting unhealthy substances into your body; nicotine, excess alcohol, and even excessive caffeine can take a toll on your health in the long run, but also make you feel lousy overall in your day-to-day life. In fact, it helps if you can avoid allowing toxic thinking patterns from exacerbating your stress levels as well.

 Find healthier ways to manage stress, and you'll enjoy double health and stress management benefits!

These are three important ways to take care of your body that you may not naturally think of as stress relievers. However, if you set goals to make these ideas a reality in your life, you'll feel the difference immediately, but will also see results in multiple areas of your life in the coming weeks and months. Few habits come without effort, but these three can make a significant impact on your life, and are well worth the effort.

Here are seven more important tips to know about: Top 10 Self-Care Strategies for Overall Stress Reduction