There are many shapes and sizes of 30-day health challenges. Some health challenges can require a major life overhaul, which is not realistic for most people. However, small changes you can implement a bit everyday can be transformative over time.
By participating in the proven 30-day health challenges below you can change your habits for good and improve your health and happiness.
Ready? Let's dive in...
1. Limit Screen Time
Spending too much time staring at a screen can cause eyestrain. This eyestrain has its own name: computer vision syndrome. The symptoms of this syndrome are eye fatigue, burning or itchy eyes, blurred vision, and sensitivity to bright light. While looking at a screen, we blink less, which causes less tears to be distributed over our eyes.
Screen time also affects the way you sleep. The blue light from the screen suppresses levels of melatonin in your body. This hormone helps to control your sleep and wake cycle. The reduced levels of melatonin make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
We spend more time staring at a computer, smart phone, or tablet than ever before, and we have come to rely on them for work and play. The best way to limit your screen time is to set a daily goal for yourself. Determine how much screen time you need (or want), and factor in the time you spend looking at screens for work. During work, adjust the brightness of your screen and take regular breaks. If you go over your allotted time, don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, note what caused you to go over so you can avoid it in the future.
Some people think meditation is a religious or spiritual experience, when really it is more focused on learning how to be more present for your life.
Scientific studies suggest meditation has real benefits. When done on a regular basis, meditation can increase focus, improve emotional well-being, reduce blood pressure, and improve stress-related gut issues.
Setting aside 10 to 20 minutes of your day for meditation can make a positive impact on your well-being. There are many resources on the internet that provide guided meditation to get the process started. You will see the benefits once you find a program that works for you.
3. Ditch the Sugar and Cream
It’s easy to forget how many added sugars and fats are in your daily coffee. Natural sweeteners, such as cinnamon, nut milk, coconut milk, or cocoa powder can add a touch of sweetness to your coffee without the added sugar.
Eliminating sugar from your diet can have an enormous impact on your health. Sugars add a lot of calories to your food without any nutritional benefit. Sugar intake also contributes to the development of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Removing added sugars can help fight against these diseases. Sugar also has a negative impact on your dental health. Too much sugar causes cavities and gum disease.
Start removing sugars by first eliminating it from your coffee. After that first step, gradually reduce your sugar intake in other areas. Find baked goods with reduced or no added sugars, read food labels, and go for items with low sugar levels. When you are snacking, opt for natural fruits and veggies.
4. Get Outside
Spending time outside is good for your body and your mind. Getting fresh air outdoors has shown to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, decrease heart rate, and relieve stress. Nature is a great place to unplug and center yourself, and it offers the chance for you to gain some mental and physical benefits.
Set aside at least 30 minutes each day to go outside. Find a local park or trail, or take a walk in your neighborhood. Always remember to put on organic sunscreen made with natural ingredients.
5. Commit to a Morning Routine
Setting a morning routine for yourself allows you to start your day on the right foot. Without a routine, you will spend your morning rushed, potentially causing you to be stressed for the rest of the day. Setting aside some time every morning before you start your day can help jump start your metabolism and increase your concentration and energy for the rest of the day.
When developing your morning routine, consider the following:
- Wake up with your alarm and avoid snoozing. This will get your body into a routine and let your internal clock know what time to wake up.
- Eat a balanced breakfast for energy to start your day.
- Wash you face and moisturize.
- Include at least 15 minutes for exercise.
6. Go Organic
Replace your food with organic alternatives whenever possible. Organic farms do not use any synthetic fertilizers, are GMO-free, and provide richer nutrients. Organic foods are made using whole ingredients, giving you confidence in what you are putting in your body.
Most grocery stores offer an organic produce section. Check labels on product packages for the organic symbol and read ingredients. Educate yourself about chemicals you want to avoid putting in your body and watch out for them.
7. Ditch the Car
As often as you can, walk or bike instead of driving. Depending on the mileage, you may be able to find a great bike route to work. Set aside time during your day to walk around the office or outdoors if you have to drive to work.
Walking or biking when you means more exercise and more time outside. You are also reducing the wear and tear on your car and saving money on fuel. Plus, walking instead of driving is environmentally-friendly.
8. Eliminate Late-Night Snacks
Give yourself a cut-off time for eating and stick to it. Late-night snacking usually involves foods without nutritional value and can contribute to weight gain. Eating after a certain time can also affect your sleep cycle, and can cause acid reflux if you lay down too soon after eating.
9. Strengthen Your Core
Strengthening your abdominals can help with your core strength, posture, and flexibility. Setting aside time each day to work on your core will benefit other strength-training goals.
A modified plank is an effective core exercise; it strengthens the abdominals, back muscles, shoulders, and chest. Abdominal crunches work great as well, just be sure not to pull up on your neck as you lift your head.
Core training also strengthens your back muscles, creating muscle balance. You will notice poor posture, restricted flexibility, and pain if your muscles are unbalanced.
Science has shown that our bodies run at optimal condition when we drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. Staying hydrated can improve your cardiovascular health, help muscle and join function, cleanse toxins, and keep your skin healthy.
Carry a water bottle with you at all times so you have a reminder to drink. Set a timer for when your bottle should be refilled, or write the times on the bottle so you stay on track with your daily intake.
11. Cut Out the Alcohol
The 30-day challenge is supposed to promote habits that you continue past the 30 days. Cutting out alcohol may not be necessary forever, but cutting it out for 30 days can have many benefits. You will notice you are sleeping better and have more energy.
Going alcohol-free can help you save money and break a bad habit if you drink in excess. Learn how to enjoy yourself without alcohol and reap the health benefits.
If you want to incorporate alcohol into your routine after the 30-day challenge is over, be sure to do it slowly. Your tolerance has lowered, so you may not be able to drink as much as before.
12. Write It Down
Writing down your goals helps you to keep track of progress and keeps you accountable to your challenge. Log information about your food intake and make note of things you notice effecting your body. Recording your actions each day will give you information to analyze at the end of the month, showing which aspects of the challenge impacted you the most.
These twelve 30-day health challenges are designed to help you incorporate small changes into your lifestyle. Make small, achievable goals, and don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a goal. Pick yourself up the next day and try again.
After the first month, you will be able to add more changes and improve your overall health and happiness. Don’t forget to keep a log of your changes and, most important, have fun!