A nutritionist shares 4 easy health hacks to improve your life

We all want to be healthier – because a healthy person is a happy person. But who really has the time to be focused on health all the time? It can turn into a full-time job if you let it! The good news is, you can get a little bit healthier each day by using tiny health hacks.

1. Sip small amounts of water throughout the day

Drinking water seems so simple, but so many struggle to do it. It’s somehow a lot easier to drink two bottles of wine than two liters of water – not that I would know, of course!

The thing is, drinking huge amounts of water in one go isn’t actually that great for the body. Most of it gets flushed straight through, so you lose the benefits. You’re much better off sipping small amounts of water regularly.

Try: Drinking about 150-200ml of water every hour that you’re at work. This will get you to 1.2-1.6L of water over a standard work day without even trying. 

2. Take a deep breath

When was the last time you stopped and actually noticed your breathing pattern? You might know that you breathe rapidly when you’re exercising. But when you’re stressed out, you will be breathing shallow and rapid breaths.

The problem with shallow breathing is that it encourages our nervous systems to stay on high alert. So it actually feeds into your stress.

The best way to prevent this is to notice your breathing pattern, and take a few moments to reverse it. This will switch your nervous system from its ’fight or flight’ stress mode into ‘rest and digest’ calm mode.

Try: taking a few deep breaths right down into your belly when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Pop your hand on your tummy, and breathe as deeply as you can until your belly rises. Then slowly exhale. Repeat for at least 3 breaths – the longer you do it, the more calm your body will become.

3. Move your body

I get it — exercise takes up time. But does it have to take up hours every week to benefit you? Not necessarily. If you’re short on time, high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, may be the answer. 

HIIT has many of the benefits of normal exercise – building muscle, burning off excess energy, supporting cardiovascular wellbeing – but in a much shorter time-frame. In fact, a lot of research suggests that it may be more effective than slogging it out on the treadmill for long periods of time.

The key here is that it has to be intense to work. If you’re not working hard, you need to up the intensity. Breaks are very short, but so are the exercises. So there’s no time for taking gym selfie during the session!

Try: Short bursts of intense bodyweight exercises, one after another. Here’s a sample HIIT plan you might like to try:

30 seconds: Jumping jacks

30 seconds: Squats

30 seconds: Pushups

30 seconds: Lunges

30 seconds: Burpees

1-minute rest

Repeat twice

Total time: 9.5 minutes

4. Green your caffeine

Some nutritionists might advise that you give up caffeine. But if you ask, that’s not very realistic. Instead, switch over to green tea as your main caffeine source throughout the week.

Why green tea? Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly, it contains an amino acid, L-theanine, that works with caffeine to boost your focus and memory. It also contains another compound, EGCG, that deactivates your stress hormone cortisol. So it chills you out instead of making you feel anxious and jittery like other caffeinated drinks.  Finally, it’s packed full of powerful antioxidants that have all sorts of beneficial properties, like anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer.

Tip: Find green tea too bitter? Try adding 1/4 cup cold water to your mug before adding in the boiling water. This will reduce the bitter flavour.

This article originally appeared on A Girl in Progress.