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Life without strain: 13 habits to improve your health

Shot from the film "Always say yes"

You don’t have to live the life of a fitness blogger to feel better. These simple tricks can help you take better care of yourself and take the time to do things that make you happy.

  • Place washed fruits and vegetables in a prominent place.

A vase or a plate with fruits and vegetables is not only pleasant interior decoration but also a useful reminder that you need to eat at least 400 g of fruits [ 1 ], vegetables and berries every day. If such a snack is in front of your eyes, it will be easier for you not to forget to eat healthily.

  • Do not bring work papers and laptop to bed.

The bed, and ideally, the entire bedroom, should be associated only with sleep and sex, and not with work [ 2 ]. This approach can help you manage or prevent sleep disturbances if any.

  • In the summer, replace your regular hand cream in your bag with SPF.

Sunscreen should be used every two hours [ 3 ] and renewed additionally after every hand washing, bathing or sweating. Choose a cream in a small package or an SPF stick and regularly apply to your hands and other exposed areas of the body, including the back neck, ears and tops of the feet – these are often overlooked places.

  • Put extra sunglasses in your bag, car, or leave at work.

Leaving your home in the pouring rain, it’s no wonder you forget your sunglasses. And regret it when you have to walk in the bright sun. It’s not just about convenience: glasses protect the sensitive skin around the eyes and can reduce the risk of cataracts [ 4 ].

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  • Walk half an hour a day.

Not necessarily in one go: 15 minutes in the morning and evening or after lunch is also a great option. Any physical activity is better than nothing, even if it only takes 10 minutes [ 5 ]. Half an hour a day will already reduce the risk of several diseases [ 6 ], and increasing this indicator will bring even more benefits.

  • Place the book by your bed and read before bed.

Regular reading before bed will help you tune in to rest and prevent insomnia. Please note that it is better to take just a paper book [7] and when choosing literature, avoid texts that can throw you off balance.

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  •  Do not put your phone and other gadgets on charging next to the bed.

At least an hour before bedtime, it is better to stop using your phone, tablet or laptop [ 8 ]. To avoid the temptation to quickly check the news or social networks before bedtime, put your gadgets away.

  • Keep track of how much you sleep.

Seven hours a day is the norm for an adult [ 9 ]. If you find yourself sleeping less, try to get there. Sleep deprivation has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and depression [ 10 ]. Those who do not get enough sleep even get colds more often [ 11 ].

Photo: Claudia Mañas / Unsplash

Get up and go to bed at the same time on weekdays and weekends.

It will help in the prevention and treatment of sleep disorders [ 12 ]. To establish a habit, you need to adhere to a schedule, without allowing for exceptions always.

  1. Do breathing exercises every day.

It is an excellent way to cope with daily stressful situations, lower blood pressure and slow your heart rate [ 13 ]. It is enough to spend 10-20 minutes on exercise, preferably at the same time, to create a habit.

  1. Make to-do lists for the day, week and month.

This habit will help reduce anxiety and make your accomplishments more visible [ 14 ]. A shopping list before going to the store will save you from unnecessary expenses, a to-do list for tomorrow will relieve your head before bed, and a list of books will show you how much you read.

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  • Ventilate the room at least twice a day.

The air in a home or office is often much dirtier than outside [ 15 ], so ventilation is the easiest way to ensure optimal temperature [16], humidity and fresh air flow into the room.

  • Buy natural air fresheners instead of aerosols.

Research shows that aerosols are more harmful than beneficial [ 17 ]. They can only be used in well-ventilated areas, but even so, it is better to do it less frequently. The optimal home replacement is aromatic oils with natural ingredients. 

Fitness addiction: how to stop and stay healthy

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When it comes to addictions, we usually think of something harmful. It turns out that you can also become addicted to useful things—for example, training in the gym. We will tell you how this can turn out.

Fitness addiction is an obsessive desire to exercise and an obsession with one’s appearance. So, if an addicted person, for some reason, does not exercise for 24-36 hours, he begins to experience irritation, anxiety, fatigue and guilt. It would seem that depending on the sport, there is nothing wrong – instead, on the contrary. However, if the desire to become slimmer and healthier gets out of control, it will become fraught with problems not only with health but also with personal life.

Why fitness is addictive

According to a study by French psychiatrists, about 42% of people are subject to fitness addiction. Moreover, this applies equally to both men and women. It all starts with the desire to improve your body, to make it fitter. A person selects an individual load independently or with the help of an instructor. It’s hard at first. Despite this, he continues to exercise regularly, and at some point, realizes that he no longer gets the desired satisfaction from training. To experience the pleasant sensation of lifting again after exercise, he begins to continually increase the intensity and duration of the activities, spending all his free time in the gym. At the same time, the fitness addict gets hung up on the smallest flaws in his figure.

According to Finnish scientists, post-workout wellness is easily explained using biochemistry. During exercise, the brain is actively synthesizing the hormone of happiness – endorphin. In its chemical structure, it resembles strong pain relievers. This hormone dulls muscle pain, improves mood, reduces stress levels, and induces pleasure and unreasonable joy. Thus, the brain’s reward system is activated, and the newly minted athlete becomes a hostage of “euphoric memory.” In other words, he is addicted to fitness, like drugs or alcohol. And when our body adapts to these endorphin releases, the number of receptors that perceive it increases. As a result, the hormone of joy requires more and more.

Photo: Meghan Holmes / Unsplash

Why is fitness addiction dangerous?

The first problems arise when there is an addiction to substances that cause a state of mild euphoria. Since fitness lovers want to experience the pleasant sensations again, they begin to skip rest days and continue to exercise in the gym even after the onset of pain. This is fraught with damage to tendons and joints, sprains and even fractures. Girls also have an increased risk of menstrual irregularities. Also, during exercise, the body actively produces cortisol, a stress hormone. Due to its excess, fat deposits accumulate, water is retained, and appetite increases Are the most common side effects of exhausting exercise. Therefore, instead of a slender body, fitness addicts risk getting precisely the opposite result.

Due to overload and lack of rest, immunity worsens, and organs wear out faster. Another dangerous feature of sports addiction is that it can be easily replaced by chemical addiction. For example, an alcoholic. And in both cases, the body synthesizes almost the same hormones. And since our brains don’t feel much of a difference when switching to alternative sources of pleasure, the avid fitness fanatic can become addicted to drugs as well. In many ways, this explains the high percentage of drinkers and drug addicts among former athletes: in this way, they try to get the dose of neurotransmitters to which they are used. Conversely, most drug treatment programs include intense training to replace one addiction to another, less harmful.

Sports addiction also negatively affects personal relationships. Since physical activity becomes the basic need of a fitness addict, he gradually loses interest in the world around him and communication with people. Such a person skips any social activity: he does not hesitate to cancel romantic dates and scheduled meetings with friends for a couple of extra hours spent on the simulators. For the same reason, he may postpone essential tasks, not go to school or not complete work tasks in the allotted time. Thus, stagnation begins in all areas of his life, except fitness.

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The main symptoms

It is important to distinguish real sports addiction from healthy fitness hobbies. For example, if you exercise primarily to maintain your health, there is no reason to worry. You should be wary if your main goal is the formation of an ideal figure that matches fashion trends. Fitness addicts spend a lot of time in front of a mirror, looking at the relief of their body. At the same time, they cannot refuse training – the very thought of skipping classes becomes unacceptable.

Another striking symptom: addicted to sports increase physical activity and their duration, even despite injuries, illnesses or doctor’s prohibitions. As a rule, they visit the gym every day and do the same exercises in a strictly planned manner.

The time allotted for physical exercise becomes of paramount importance for a person. It shapes his daily routine, and finances are now distributed so that they are enough to buy sports nutrition and maintain a diet. If a person or business meeting intersects with a workout, the fitness addict prefers the latter. Therefore, he lacks not only strength but also time for any other business, except for sports. Exhausting your body with intense exertion and low-calorie nutrition, a person becomes anxious and nervous. He is fixated on burning calories and does not stop exercising even after injury. If for some reason, a fitness addict cannot get into the gym, he withdraws into himself and begins to feel guilty.

Photo: Anastase Maragos / Unsplash

How to avoid addiction

If the training program is drawn up correctly, playing sports improves mood, improves metabolic processes, increases immunity, strengthens the skeleton, makes the body harmonious and enduring. Also, moderate physical activity protects us from various diseases – colds, diabetes, osteoporosis, disorders of the cardiovascular system. If a person abuses fitness, problems will only increase. Therefore, it is so important to listen to your feelings. If you become too intense and increase your workout volume by 10% weekly, start changing your thinking and behaviour. Experts advise to interrupt training and do something pleasant temporarily, and in the future – to limit the duration of classes in the gym and strictly adhere to this regulation.

According to psychologists, fitness addiction is usually formed against a background of various psychological problems. People often try to escape from reality with the help of sports. For example, from some disturbing thoughts, anxiety, longing, loneliness, low self-esteem, stagnant career, or an eating disorder. Try to figure out what training gives you – this will help you find a way out of the situation without violence against yourself. If you did not manage to cope with addiction on your own even after adjusting the program with a trainer, seek help from a psychotherapist.

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