Many of us are really feeling the pinch right now as a result of hours reduced, jobs lost or businesses closed. Even if you are still fully employed there might be a degree of uncertainty with regard to the future and that can make many of us extra cautious in our decision-making and perhaps pull back on health-related expenditure (and other expenditure too).
But even if we weren’t in our current economic situation spending money on your health might be difficult to prioritise.
Of course, there are also those who see this as the perfect time to dig deep on their health because they have the luxury of extra time and fewer distractions.
So, if you are in the position where you need to hang on to your dollars you may be thinking that you have no choice but to let your health suffer; that you can’t afford the fee for a naturopathic consultation or that supplements are too costly or that gyms are expensive (especially if you don’t go). But I am here to tell you that just because dollars are tight, there are still a heap of things you can do that are great for your heath and they don’t have to cost you a cent.
5 ways to improve your health without spending a dollar
Go to bed
A good night’s sleep is definitely right up there in terms of things you can do that help optimise your health.
It might be tempting in this time of isolation to binge on movies or stay up playing video games or read until the wee hours but this is not conducive to good sleep or good health.
Your goal is to get to sleep at a consistent time every night and get up at the same time every morning (aiming for a one hour window).
Good sleep is vital for recovery from the day’s activities, cellular repair, energy, detoxification and more. Everyone has different needs but aim for 7-9 hours a night.
If you aren’t sleeping well, make sure you are doing these things as starting points.
Move your body
You don’t need any fancy equipment or expensive runners or gym memberships. You just need a pair of flat, comfortable shoes. That’s it!
Just put your shoes on and go for a walk. There are no goals with regard to speed or distance, just start somewhere and make it a daily habit. If you want to go a bit further each week, that’s great. If you don’t, doesn’t matter. If you prefer to run, then do that. If you own a bike, then go for a bike ride. It’s really that simple. Do what you can do but do it often.
If you can’t get out of the house, try one of the millions of online videos for everything from yoga to cardio to tai chi and home workouts using things you already have in the house.
Moving your body is vital for the circulation of your life-giving oxygenated blood. It’s also how your lymphatic system works. (Your lymphatic system is responsible for carrying all the waste by-products of your metabolism back to your blood stream so they can be eliminated via the liver and kidneys. This happens under the influence of muscles squeezing and releasing and that happens when you are moving).
Movement is also important for maintaining flexibility and stability as we age so move your body often.
Eat your vegies
Do I really need to remind you of this? It seems so, because less than 10% of the adult population get the recommended 5+ serves per day.
So, instead of spending your hard-earned money on fast food, packaged food or home-delivery, put it into fresh food. Buy what’s on sale and learn how to batch cook and freeze or preserve.
Fruit and vegetables are the fuel for your gut microbiome (which is vital for good digestion). They are the source of essential vitamins and minerals as well as anti-oxidants and polyphenols.
Whatever your food budget is, prioritise fruit and veg first.
Water is life as they say! We are roughly 60% water so the first thing I think of when a client says they are tired, flat or foggy is how much water are they drinking.
Water is vital for flushing out toxins, lubricating our joints, muscles and spine, producing energy, regulating body temperature, digestion and excretion of waste.
So if you want to improve your health, swap the coffee or wine or soft drink or juice for water. Not only will you save money but you’ll be doing your body a huge favour.
There’s been a lot of talk lately around the importance of connection for our mental health. Human beings have an innate need to feel like we belong and that someone cares about us. In this time of physical distancing we can feel quite lonely even if there are others in your house.
But connection is cheap (and probably already included in your phone plan) so make the most of it. Use the apps to have face to face chats with friends and relatives on a daily basis. It’s not the same as the real thing but it still does us good to see that smiling, familiar face. In some ways, I think we are making more of an effort to stay in touch at the moment and I really hope that becomes a permanent part of our culture. It’s all too easy to say “I’ll make time for them later” but now we are being reminded that “later” is tenuous.
Maybe you could start a book club or movie group or gardening group. Personally, I prefer one on one or two rather than a big group because I feel like I can make a more meaningful connection, but that’s just me. Whatever floats your boat!
And a bonus….
I know it can feel like there is not a lot to laugh about at the moment but if you are feeling weighed down then a good laugh can make a big difference. You can pretty much guarantee that your favourite comedian has videos on YouTube or Instagram right now and that your favourite comedies, that you watched growing up, are on high rotation on free-to-air TV so turn off the news and give yourself permission to indulge in a good laugh.
So, do those 5 (+1) things consistently for a few weeks and I am confident you will feel healthier and happier without raiding your bank account.