We’ve all experienced those times when one family member returns home sick and, despite our best efforts, we end up catching it ourselves. Before long, the whole household is coughing and sneezing. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we have deemed the winter months “flu season.” But what if there was an affordable way to prevent your family from catching the flu and avoid the inconveniences of the common cold?
Having a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent illness, and the best place to start creating healthier habits is in your home. It’s easier to stay on track when your family members are on the same page as you, and if you have kids, being a good role-model for them is essential. Since children learn by example, the earlier you commit to making your home the healthiest on the block, the better!
Here are some tips to get you started.
Stick To a Routine
Getting into the habit of exercising and making healthier lifestyle choices isn’t simple for most people. The best way to change your lifestyle and stay on track is to stick to a routine. Your transition will be much easier if you include your family members and do things as a group whenever possible.
For example, you can get together with your family to cook a healthy meal or exercise at a specific time every day. For young children, this could be difficult at first, and you should explain the benefits of exercising and eating well so that they’ll have a better understanding of why you’re changing their usual routine.
Find activities and recipes that will interest your whole family so that any changes to their usual habits and routines won’t be as complicated for them. Overall, a routine isn’t very different from a plan at first, until you set it into action, and from there, it quickly becomes a habit.
By having an idea of what you can do on a regular basis to improve the health of your family and by setting goals, you’ll be able to implement a routine that works for the whole household and with the support of everyone involved.
Replace the Old with the New
To make your home the healthiest on the block, you’re going to have to replace the old with the new! That means replacing your old recipes, habits and even household cleaners and personal hygiene products. If you don’t exercise already, start small by having your family walk around the block with you a few times a week, or check YouTube for instructional videos that will allow your family to exercise at home.
To replace your old recipes, think of whether or not you can substitute some of the ingredients for healthier alternatives. Most importantly, pay attention to the foods you and your family are eating. The majority of your diet should consist of whole foods, meaning items that are not typically boxed and/or pre-prepared.
When grocery shopping, try to avoid going down the center aisles of the store as much as possible, since most of the processed foods are in those aisles. If you think of the store as resembling the shape of a “U” or horseshoe, you’ll notice all the fresh foods are kept along the outer edge. Shopping along this outer edge, or horseshoe, will ensure you aren’t purchasing many processed foods and will give you an idea of what your recipes should include.
For household cleaners and personal hygiene products, avoid ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Read the ingredients on the back of the label of everything you purchase, no matter if it is a food, household cleaner or personal care item.
If you’re uncertain about a specific personal care product, you may be able to find information about it on the Environmental Working Group’s database, which ranks products based on the safety of their ingredients.
Get Enough Rest
There’s no doubt that sleep is important for your health, but not everyone is aware of how to create a good environment for sleeping. Setting your thermostat to a comfortable temperature at night can help you get a restful sleep, but most of all, you should avoid exposure to light near bedtime.
Bright light can actually affect your metabolism, and exposure to blue-enriched light at night can be bad for your health. A recent study found that exposure to bright light during both the morning and evening can increase your risk for insulin resistance. At night, the exposure has somewhat worsened effects, as it can spike your peak blood glucose levels.
Not using electronics and having bright lights on before bed can be hard, so start by avoiding them during the night a few times a week at first. Finding different activities to do before bed can help. Taking a walk, reading a book or playing board games with your family might be a good alternative to using electronics.
If you aren’t sleeping well on most occasions, purchasing a new mattress or trying relaxation techniques before bed is a good idea. You can track your sleep patterns if you use a smartwatch, such as Pebble, or a Sleep Number mattress. The Sleep Number mattresses are linked to an app called SleepIQ, which will show you how well you’ve been sleeping every night, and you can track how certain activities (such as caffeine) might interfere with your sleep.
Take a Moment
Slowing down for a bit and relaxing is essential if you want to maintain good health, so allow yourself to have some time to relax during the day and, most importantly, at night before bed. Meditation is a great way to relax, and you can find a variety of guided meditation videos on YouTube that can assist you if you haven’t meditated before, and starting with videos can make it much easier for you to include your family in the activity.
If you have children, you can also introduce them to meditation with books, such as “Meditation, My Friend: Meditation for Kids and Beginners of all Ages” by Betsy Thomson. Meditating can be difficult for some people at first, but the more you practice, the better you become at quieting your mind, and the easier it is to include meditation in your daily routine. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, you can always meditate briefly or use breathing techniques that will help you relax and provide stress relief.
Stress can take a toll on our health and affect us in a huge way, so make sure you are not only using stress-relieving techniques, but also voicing your concerns and communicating effectively with those around you. If that’s not particularly easy for you to do, speak to a therapist or psychologist who can help you sort through issues you may be facing and involve your family when appropriate.
Purify Your Space
You’re likely to spend a fairly large amount of your time in your home, so it’s important to ensure your home has good air quality. Indoor air pollution and even the tap water in your home can affect your health in a variety of ways. Children are typically more affected than adults, but even if you don’t have kids, you should purify your space as much as possible.
Test your home for mold, radon, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde. Contact local professionals in your area who can perform these sorts of tests for you. To test for mold, consider using a kit through Mycometrics, as air quality tests are not always enough to detect a problem.
Other ways you can improve the air quality in your home is to clean on a regular basis or invest in an air purifier. Dusting and vacuuming should be done at least once a week and more often if anyone living in the home has allergies or asthma. Once you have addressed the air quality of your home, test your tap water for contaminants, and install the proper filtration system if any are present.
Even if you do not drink water from the tap, you and your family members can be affected by it when you bathe or wash your hands. Having a whole house catalytic carbon filter installed is a somewhat affordable option that will filter out chloramines, chlorine, pesticides, herbicides and more. If you aren’t able to install one because you’re renting your home or are living in an apartment, use faucet and shower head filters that have activated carbon in them.
Break Old Habits
To make your home the healthiest on the block, you’re going to have to be consistent and continue to break any unhealthy habits more so than anything else. You can use apps to help you stay on track, as well as dry erase boards with goals or schedules written on them that can be displayed in your kitchen or another area where all of your family will see them every day. Plan ahead and collaborate with your family to create a new, healthier way of life that will work for everyone in your home.
By sticking to a routine, replacing your usual cleaners, cleaning up your diet, getting enough rest, using relaxation techniques and purifying both the air and water in your home, you’ll quickly have the healthiest home on the block! Having all of your family members on board will make the transition much easier as well.
Now that we’ve shared our tips with you, we’d like to know what you’ve currently been doing to improve the health of your family and whether or not you have any suggestions for our readers. Let us know in the comments section below.