This post is sponsored by Aflac. I was compensated for writing it, but all opinions are 100% mine.
In the midst of college, first jobs, social lives, and really being out in the world independently for the first time, it can be hard to start thinking and prioritizing the future as a young person.
The thing is, thinking about your future in the present is important! Every decision and choice you make now is going to affect you in the long run. It can be appealing to choose things that feel, look, or sound good in the moment, but if you don’t keep in mind the long-term consequences and results of your actions, you could be setting your future self up for disaster. Loving and taking care of yourself involves the current moment and who you’ll be when you’re older.
This is especially important when it comes to health and happiness! And the thing is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just making a few actionable choices and smart decisions as a millennial can ensure that you stay healthy and happy at any age.
Today I’m sharing The 5 Best Choices Millennials Can Make for Long Term Health & Happiness. But these healthy habits don’t just apply to millennials! Any one can implement them at any age and reap the benefits. 🙂
Let’s get to it!
1. Get Adequate Sleep
You’ve heard it time and time again how important sleep is. In fact, experts say it’s more important than exercise or even diet related choices! Sleep is when our bodies recharge, rejuvenate, and revitalize themselves. All of our important growth and repair takes place during sleep, so it is vital throughout ALL stages of our life that we keep a consistent, restful sleep pattern. The ideal amount for millennials (or really people of any age!) is to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Too little and you’re not giving your body adequate rest, too much and you could actually cause a number of other health complications. Make sleep a priority and don’t wear your body down before its time.
2. Drink Up!
Drop the pop and diet pop! Water is truly the nectar of the gods. Not only do we need it to live, but the more hydrated you are the more smoothly your metabolic processes run, the more regular you are, the more soft your skin is, the more energy you have, the better you’re able to perform athletically, and the more you’re helping your kidneys function properly. We need water to live and drinking more in general is good for overall health. A lot of people out there are unknowingly chronically dehydrated. Simply by upping their water intake and ingesting more water based foods, they would be incredibly surprised at how good they can really feel! Maximize your day and really feel like you’re living life in color by giving your body everything it needs to feel its best at every age.
We are a generation of sitters. With all the technology and tech based jobs out in the world now, more people are sitting and less active than ever before. You don’t have to do anything crazy, but make it a point to move your body everyday. Don’t force it, just choose something you enjoy and get moving! Whether it’s walking, running, doing yoga, or even dancing…finding a form of activity you like is key to sustain an active lifestyle for years to come. Getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes a few times a week will help improve your cardiovascular health and keep your heart strong. Strength training is also important for bone health as you age. Little bouts of movement make a difference. Get up a stretch during work, take your dog out for a little longer of a walk, and park farther away at shopping centers!
4. Cook at Home
Cooking at home, whether you’re cooking gourmet, organic, ‘clean food’ or not, is bound to make you healthier! Going out to eat often is not only rough on your budget, but it can be rough on your body if done to excess. No matter what dish you’re making, the simple act of cooking from scratch is more beneficial in itself simple because you’re choosing the ingredients, the amounts, and the foods that you and your family will be eating. A study found that people who cook most of their meals at home live longer on average than those that don’t. Even if you don’t like to cook, simple ingredients thrown together with easy recipes can be incredibly nourishing. Not only that, but cooking with your partner, friends, or family can be a fun bonding experience! You’ll build self-confidence and self-esteem as well from creating something from start to finish and being able to then enjoy it.
5. Spend Time with Loved Ones
Romantic relationships come and go through out life, but your family is forever. One of the greatest regrets that people report having at the end of their life is not spending more time with their family and friends. We get so caught up in our jobs, in our hobbies, in constantly rising up the ladder and raising the bar, that we lose sight of what is truly important in life. The best memories you can make and the most meaningful experiences you can have are those with your loved ones. Research shows that people with strong support system and deep connections with others experience longer, happier, healthier, and more fulfilled lives than those who go it alone. And on a less scientific level, love and friendship are just the best. We are humans, we’re made for connection, community, and interactions with one another. You don’t know how much you’ll value these important relationships as you age.
In addition to these helpful tips, I also reached out to some friends to see what advice they would give their younger selves if they had the chance. Check out these words of wisdom…
Make time for YOU. The world is busy, it never stops being busy. Make time to eat real meals, to exercise, to do something that replenishes you emotionally and mentally. You will be able to give more in all that other busy-ness if you’ve nourished your body, mind, and soul first. | Sasha
Put yourself out there, great things happen when you do. | Kris
Stay active even if you go away to college. It is so easy to get lost in the “fun” parts, and so hard to get back into it later on! | Michelle
Educate yourself now! Know what is healthy and what isn’t. You aren’t fat now, you just think you are. Start watching what you eat now. If not, you will regret it in 10, 15, 20 years! | Denise
How you fuel your both in terms of food and sleep is important. Stress less! | Brittany
You’re never as young as you are right now. Learn to like yourself as you are – warts and all. Don’t wait until you reach some milestone. Be good to yourself in word and deed (which includes food and exercise) RIGHT NOW, it will help you feel and look good. RIGHT NOW. | Melissa
Never let anyone else determine your worth! | Amanda
Don’t worry about what other people/society tells you is necessary in life, find what makes you smile and do that. The little details will work themselves out. | Heidi
Trust in the process… | Katrina
Experiences and adventures are better than possessions. So go out there and explore! | Polly
Learn to relax. There’s too much pressure to accomplish certain things, act a certain way, and go go go until you make yourself sick. | Amanda
You can do hard things and you’ll prove it to yourself and everyone around you. Put yourself first sometimes and you’ll do awesome things! | Cassie
It’s all going to work out and be ok. Don’t let yourself get worked up over something because in a few years when you look back on that, how much is it going to mean? | Kristin
Stop comparing and competing with others. Focus on improving yourself and live a life that you’re proud of. Don’t be ashamed to be geeky because by the time you hit 30, everyone’s trying to show off their “nerd cred.” | Karen
Get rid of processed food and processed friends. Fake things aren’t good for you. Not only do they hurt, they put weight on you that takes years to unload. All natural and real is the only way to go. | Carleeh
Don’t smoke!! Ever. Not out on the weekends, not at the clubs. It’s not cool. | Jennifer
Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. And your worth does not lie in whether or not you have a boyfriend. And brush your hair please. | Libby
Enjoy your freedom! Life gets busy and hard when you finish your degree, get a “real” job and get the house, car and kids. | Carey
Diets DON’T work. STOP depriving yourself. Eat what you want…in moderation. | Safari
Your health is your greatest asset. That means you need fitness and a healthy diet. Eat to workout; think about what kind of fuel you need to put in the tank to keep your engine running smoothly. | Cynthia
Just keep moving. | Wendy
Don’t get caught up in the chase for fitness perfection. Life is so much more than ripped abs and counting calories and/or macros. Be you. Unplug. Love life. | Whitney
Being young doesn’t make you invincible .Start working on yourself now and your future self-will thank you later. | Patricia
This was only a small portion of all the amazing advice I received! So thank you to everyone who contributed.
I think the overall message is plan now and be prepared for the future.
To end this post I want to leave you with one more way you can make sure you’re healthy and happy for many years to come. Did you know that the fall season marks open enrollment time for health insurance in the US? This is a crucial time for people to be able to review the health benefits that their employers provide and decide which ones best fit their financial and personal needs. A lot of people (especially millennials!) don’t take the time to thoroughly look through and research their options before deciding on a plan. Without knowing, people are choosing plans that are costing them a lot more than necessary. High deductible health plans are becoming more popular but they are leaving millennials with little protection and few benefits overall. Aflac suggests that a great option for this age demographic are voluntary insurance plans. With these plans (which include insurance policies such as accident, critical illness, and hospital stays) help to protect millennials from high out-of-pocket costs that major medical insurance was never designed to cover.
I can honestly say I am pretty out of the loop when it comes to health insurance, so having some guidance from a reputable company like Aflac is really helpful! Hopefully this information can help you in your own decision-making process, too! Health care is a part of overall health and wellness after all. 🙂
Does thinking about the future affect your personal decisions in the present?
What’s one thing you would go back and tell your younger self if you could?
Do you believe health and happiness are dependent on one another?
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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Sway Group, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.