facebook pixel

7 Healthy Habits for Life (And a Few to Reevaluate)

The power of habits is life changing. Maintaining habits can transform your physical and mental health in ways no pill or formula can hope to do. Most advice is well-intentioned. Some is downright dangerous. Here are our top 7 healthy habits that could extend your lifespan and some commonly accepted advice that needs a second look.

Plan your day

A disorganised day is a stressful day. Even tiny amounts of disorganisation and doubt can make us feel overwhelmed. A great way to combat this is to plan your day. Spending 5 minutes the night before planning out your priorities for the following day will help you focus on the most important things.

By putting your tasks down on paper or electronically, you also free your mind from the burden of remembering them. This is especially helpful in the evenings when we need to let our minds relax and prepare for sleep. Going to bed with the thoughts of all the things you have to do, or might need to do, is a recipe for insomnia.

Drink lots of water

It’s been said before, but we’ll say it again because it’s so important. Water is essential for life and is the most important nutrient. That should tell us all we need to know. Drink more of this life-giving elixir and be healthy!

Here’s what happens when you don’t drink enough water.

  • Your blood becomes thicker making it harder for your heart to push it around the body.
  • You become moody, irritable, and find it hard to concentrate. This happens even with very mild levels of dehydration. Most of the time we attribute the symptoms to other causes. A simple glass of water can change our mood.
  • Cognitive and physical performance decrease with increases in dehydration.

Eat Breakfast (or Don’t)!

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, is it really that important? What happens when you skip breakfast?

There are two ways to look at the meal that traditional breaks a state of fasting.

1. Skipping breakfast means you’ll pile on the calories for lunch, dinner, and during the day as snacks.

2. Skipping breakfast means your body is in a fasting state for 12 or more hours. This can have benefits for your health.

The popular notion is that not eating the first meal of the day leads to obesity and other health-related problems. But not so fast, there’s plenty of research to show that this isn’t as clear cut as we think.

A number of studies in the last 20 years have shown the exact opposite: breakfast-skippers had a lower incidence of all diseases (including metabolic diseases) as compared to breakfast-eaters.

Another myth is that people who go “hungry” till lunch time expend less energy and have lower resting metabolic rates. But studies are debunking this widely held belief too. “it was shown that skipping BF did not affect 24-hr energy expenditure, resting metabolic level, or food-induced thermogenesis” ~ Asian Oceanian Association for the Study of Obesity

Fasting has seen a resurgence in the last few years. And we’re not going to jump on the bandwagon and tell you to start doing 24-hours fasts or skipping meals just because it’s fashionable. However, the science is there to show that for many people, fasting is an effective way of helping the body clear out dead and diseased cells (autophagy)  and lower levels of insulin.

If you decide to do intermittent fasting, it’s very important to make sure that you meet your nutritional needs. You should also have a goal in mind. Talk to a nutritionist and tell them your goals and how you would like to structure your meals.

But if there’s one point you should take from this over any other is that, if you choose to eat breakfast make sure it’s a high-quality meal. Eating a low-quality breakfast is clearly worse than not eating anything or eating a nutritious meal.

The point is, there’s no perfect diet for everyone and if you’re not closely monitoring changes in your diet and nutritional choices, you’re fishing in the dark.


The importance of sleep can’t be understated. If there was a healthy habit that is more important than all the rest (combined) it’s this one. Sleep well and live well. Many of the problems associated with modern living and the diseases of the elderly are associated with a lack of proper sleep habits. In his book Why We Sleep, the prominent sleep expert Matthew Walker PhD explains the reasons why you should never compromise your sleep patterns.

Here’s what even a few hours missed slumber will do to you.

  • Affects your hunger levels, making you more likely to consume sugary foods the following day
  • Impairs your judgment leading to accidents and bad decisions. The decision-making areas of the brain are one of the first places to be affected by even a 10% loss in adequate sleep time
  • Increases your chances of catching colds and flu.
  • Increases your chances of developing dementia, diabetes, and cancer and experiencing heart attacks and stroke.

Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is not a luxury. It should be prescribed by doctors as the most important medication.

Read more about getting a good night’s rest.

Take your sun with a hat

Get some sun exposure whenever you can! Before you shout “skin cancer!”, let’s be clear here. We’re not saying you should sunbathe or walk around in the hot sun for hours. However, the sun’s rays are beneficial, in small doses.

Even in gloomy Ireland, cases of cancers of the skin are the rise. This is partly due to the increase in overseas trips by Irish people. We all know about the risks.  

But exposure to light from the sun can also benefit our health. The sun gives life to the world and without it, nothing would survive. So there must be some good in that.

Here’s why small amounts of sunlight exposure are a good thing:

  • Increases serotonin, the mood boosting chemical and one that helps regulate sleeping patterns (in a kind of push-pull relationship with melatonin) https://www.thebodywiseclinic.ie/how-sleep-better/
  • Helps prevent Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Boosts your body’s levels of vitamin D. Sunlight exposure is the most effective/natural way of getting vitamin D.

On the other hand, overexposure to the sun’s rays comes with an increased risk of cancer. Most people know that sun cream is a good line of defence against the burning rays of the sun. In 2018, the soaring temperatures of that unusually hot Irish summer increased the sales of sun cream by almost 150pc.

But sun cream has its own set of problems. Liberally applying sunscreen can mean that your body is unable to get the vitamin D-boosting sunlight it needs. And another potential problem with sun cream is one that has come to “light” in recent years. Toxins in sun protector can be more carcinogenic worse for you than the sun’s rays themselves. Studies on animals have shown that adverse effects induced by UV-filters in include reproductive and developmental toxicity and disturbance of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid function.

The neurotoxic effect of the chemicals in sunscreen on us, our environment, and animal life is another cause for concern.

The environmental damage posed by sunscreen is making people think twice about using the product. The chemical Benzophenone-3 in sunscreen lotions damages coral reefs and other marine life. In Ireland, we don’t have access to coral reefs but we do have direct access to the oceans. And many of us travel to places where the stuff we put on our skin can potentially damage the local environment. But one thing we should be considering is that if the chemical is so powerful that it can destroy reefs, what is it doing to our bodies? Worth a second look.

Use a hat and a long-sleeved shirt if you’re concerned about sun exposure.

Stop Working

We don’t mean quit your job or anything like that but taking a break from work is very important for your mental health. More and more evidence points to the fact that working long hours does not result in more productive workers. Entrepreneurs and freelancers are often guilty of working themselves into a state of burnout. This is obviously not a healthy practise. But even working beyond the 8 hours a day that most of us do, is not only unproductive, it saps our brains of energy and makes us depressed.

In fact, some of the greatest minds of our time preferred to work for only half the working day in full concentration mode. The other half was either spent doing less intense administration tasks, or abandoned altogether for activities that refreshed the mind, like meeting friends, art and music, and one very powerful activity, walking.

Walk for 30 to 60 continuous minutes.

Walking is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Don’t believe us? You’re probably not used to it. All it takes is that first step. Not only is walking a healthy, non-impact way of getting exercise, it can help you think and even meditate. Our bodies are built for movement our evolutionary processes changed us from quadrupedal to bipedal animals for a reason.

It would be a shame to waste millions of years of evolution.

Healthy Habits for Life

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *