How to (Realistically) Stay Happy and Healthy

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How to (Realistically) Stay Happy and Healthy

Staying realistically healthy and happy in a can be achieved in seven simple ways (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

Staying realistically healthy and happy in a can be achieved in seven simple ways (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

Ashlyn Athey

Staying realistically healthy and happy in a can be achieved in seven simple ways (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

Ashlyn Athey

Ashlyn Athey

Staying realistically healthy and happy in a can be achieved in seven simple ways (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

Let’s be real here. Being a teenager sucks. You’re trying to figure what to do with the rest of your life at a time when your brain is mainly focused on short-term results, such as that test tomorrow or what you’re going to eat when you get home. But that does not always have to be the case. Living an actual happy and healthy life can be a realistic and achievable goal that you can reach right now (unlike graduating college debt-free). So what are you waiting for? Start reading for seven simple tips on how to become the best you.

Eating a quick breakfast in the morning helps give your body the nutrients to power through the morning and start your metabolism (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

     1. Eat Breakfast!

I can never say this one enough. Eat breakfast, eat breakfast, eat breakfast! Now, I know I may sound like your grandma, but eating a nutritious meal in the morning actually stimulates your metabolism to help burn those calories throughout the day. While some people may not feel hungry after waking up, grabbing at least a banana before you run out the door will help sustain you through those dreaded morning classes and jog your brain. Can I get a cheer for breakfast?

Drinking water helps your vital organs stay hydrated and also provides numerous other benefits (Photo courtesy of Jasmyne Michaels).

      2. Stay Hydrated

Did you know that the average adult human body is made up of about 60% water? That’s a lot of water! Water helps hydrate the organs in your body, aids with digestion, helps the brain produce hormones, and basically keep you alive. I’m not suggesting that you carry an entire gallon of water around, but at least try to keep a reusable water bottle to fill up during classes in that endless abyss of a backpack. Remember, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Sleeping allows your body to replenish its energy levels and restore itself, preventing you from becoming sick (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

       3. Sleep

The recommended amount of sleep teenagers need is nine hours. All right, before you roll your eyes at this article and throw your Apple across the room, hear me out. Let me just be honest: I never sleep a full nine hours during weekdays. I know we’re all insanely busy between endless mounds of homework, band practice, long hours at work, soccer tryouts, and your brother’s birthday party you forgot. But putting your health on the back burner, especially as a teenager, can really cost you more than that Starbucks latte in the long run. Believe or not, we are in a vital developmental stage that will shape who we become as we mature. Setting good habits while you still have that constellation of acne on your forehead can benefit you in so many ways too. I recommend thirty minute power naps right when you come home from school to help you feel refreshed and ready to get to work the minute you wake up. And if you haven’t set a bedtime alarm on your phone, set one up now to get at least 8 hours of rest during the night. Everyone needs their beauty sleep!

Choosing healthy snacks can help you keep steady energy levels throughout the day while giving your body key nutrients (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

     4. Snack Prep

While it’s not ideal to survive off of snacks during the day, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s because lab class ran over or we simply didn’t have time to sit down and eat a meal, snacks are an easy and simple way to pump nutrition into our bodies. However, choosing your snacks wisely is a key step in the process to higher energy levels, clearer skin, lean muscle, and overall good health. Eating a Little Debbie cake once a month probably won’t hurt you that much, but try as much as possible to avoid sugary, high calorie, fatty processed foods (or basically everything in school vending machines). Instead, store nutritious foods in your car and backpack that are easy to eat on-the-go, such as packs of unsalted nuts, beef jerky, applesauce pouches, and carrots. Remember, abs start in the kitchen, not the gym!

Reducing your screen brightness at night and eventually turning off all blue lights when you jump in bed promotes healthy sleeping habits (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

    5. Turn Off Those Blue Lights

Don’t get me wrong, I basically live with my phone, but sleep really is more important. While scrolling through memes and lamenting over old vines on YouTube seems like a great way to spend those first few minutes in bed, the blue light that your phone emits lowers your melatonin levels and disrupts the circadian rhythm, or your body’s biological clock. Going off your phone cold turkey at night probably won’t solve this problem in the long run as withdrawals may get the better of your good intentions. I suggest dimming the light on your phone or using the nighttime feature when you get in bed for the first week. Next week, lay your phone on the nightstand for three non consecutive days. As you keep progressing and build your self-confidence by keeping small personal commitments, it will become easier to sleep without your phone. And before you know it, you’ll be living in prehistoric times!

Writing down all of the things you have to accomplish tomorrow helps relieve stress (Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

     6. Write Down Your Thoughts

Sometimes, we have these wonderful things called thoughts. However, thoughts become a problem when they keep us up at night wondering about that Spanish midterm or that you forgot to put gas in your car. Don’t worry though! Here’s a simple tip to help rid yourself of those pesky thoughts and get to bed quicker: write them down. That’s right! Keeping a list of what you have to do the next day allows you to actually not remember something for once and relieve stress. Then, when you wake up the next morning, you will be reminded of all of the things to accomplish that day and will not have to worry over whether or not you’re forgetting something.

If I can survive a HIIT workout, so can you! Exercise is absolutely necessary to keep your body in the best possible shape and reduce your risk of many preventable diseases (Photo Courtesy of Ashlyn Athey).

      7. Get Those Steps

If you’re a nerd like me, exercise is something that only the sporty kids do. However, exercise doesn’t always have to include team sports and really is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Working your muscles and getting your heart pumping can help lower your risk for several diseases such as heart failure, diabetes, and obesity. I aim to break a sweat for at least three days out of the week and have found that exercising actually applies to my academic life. To put this in perspective, I always hit the gym before a presentation or audition because exercising helps clear my mind and releases nerves and excess energy. Now, I understand we all have busy lives, and sometimes travelling to the gym is simply out of the question. But there are a variety of fun, quick workouts you can still do at home. Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which are intense spurts of exercise followed by short rest periods that only take about twenty minutes. One HIIT routine that I created is to do ten jumping jacks, ten lunges, ten sit-ups, three push-ups, and ten burpees. I take a minute of rest in between each round and repeat this four times. Also, yoga is a great way for deep tissue stretching. Or if you have a furry companion, take them out for walks around the neighborhood. Trust me, your body will definitely thank you for this one.

Thanks so much for reading. You are one step closer to becoming a better you! If you have a tip that works for you or a question, please drop them in the comment box below.

 

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