Health There are all kinds of factors in our lives that can seem destined to throw us off course from a solid healthy routine. We lead busy, fast-paced lives that can leave little time for well-planned and home-cooked meals, enough sleep, exercise, and time for all of the little things that count towards a well-rounded lifestyle.When we let things get out of control, we often don’t sleep well, give up on our exercise routine (and promise that we’ll get back on track “at some point”), and swap meals using whole, fresh ingredients for whatever's quick and easy.We don’t make room for relaxation or enjoying the benefits of spending time outside, and our priorities can get a little confused.Some of the statistics are worrying. In the US, only one in three adults do the recommended amount of weekly exercise, the vast majority of people don't eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, and the number of obese adults has doubled since the 1970s. And the health problems aren't confined to the physical. Mental health issues are becoming more prevalent by the year. So what’s a person to do in order to get back on track and put their health and well-being first, and not become just another statistic? How do we put ourselves back into the driver’s seat of our own lives?Being healthy can mean a variety of things, and there are numerous ways to keep your mind, body and spirit in optimal condition. Here a few great ideas to help you take control and improve your overall well-being. 1. Stay Hydrated You’ve heard it time and time again but staying hydrated is a big deal when it comes to keeping fit and keeping organs in good working order.Think of water like a lubricant for your body, in the same way that engine oil keeps engine parts moving smoothly. Our bodies are mostly water. In fact, an adult human body is about 60% water.Water is essential to giving our bodies the ability to remove waste regularly and properly. Getting enough water keeps our body’s largest organ, our skin, looking fresh and smooth.All water isn't created equal. If you’re worried about potential harmful elements in your tap water, or if you don’t enjoy the flavour, there are numerous filters on the market that can give you and your family access to clean, great tasting hydration. 2. You Are What You Eat The items we have that disguise themselves as food but offer zero nutritional value to our meals are mind boggling. Processed foods outnumber our options in grocery stores by incredible amounts, and we instinctively love sweet and salty tastes.We're built to enjoy the taste of fat. Our ancestors had little access to it and the small amounts they found could mean the difference between life and death, and we still adore it. However, a diet high in these “foods” can lead to a whole host of unfortunate conditions including obesity, diabetes and cancer. It can lead to low energy levels and even affect your mood. You'll experience strong highs and lows as your body adjusts to (for example) sugar levels in the products.Wholesome FoodIs fresh food. Buying local, fresh produce is relatively easy. It provides you with the variety and nutritional value that our bodies crave. Visit local farmer's markets and establish good communication and relationships with the people who grow your food. Visit farms if you can, and be aware of the treatment that’s involved if you chose to eat meat. MeatYou should eat meat in much smaller quantities and much less often than fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Our current culture of meat twice a day, every day, is unsustainable and unhealthy. Organic is typically best, but often the red tape that farmers need to cut through for the certification is overwhelming, so choose to buy from those whose values most line up with your own.Do your research, and be mindful of the effect of meat production on the environment. Organic Supplements and VitaminsSupplements can fill in the blanks if you feel that you’re not getting enough of something important, like calcium, protein or Vitamin D. Carve a piece out of each day to research and cook interesting recipes, or experiment with a variety of fresh dishes to keep things exciting. 3. Make Time For People This sounds very simplistic. However, prioritizing your relationships over other things that seem important will go a long way towards increasing your mood and alleviating depression and anxiety. We rush here and there. Often the activities we used to love and even our relationships suffer.If you’re part of a couple, it’s crucial to take the time to appreciate each other. That might mean a monthly cooking or dance class, a weekend away, or even one night a week devoted to trying a new restaurant.It can mean taking an evening stroll for a half hour every day or soaking in a bubble filled tub. Invite friends or family members over to your home for a visit or plan a lunch date.Take 15 minutes a day to focus on your kids with no distractions. This doesn’t mean doing something for them. It means giving them your undivided attention.It often feels as if we simply don’t have the time to spend just being together with our loved ones. The truth is, when we do make time for them, all parties benefit. 4. Make Time For You Just as important as making time for other people is making time for you. When it comes to prioritizing, especially for women, we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the never ending list. We never get time to ourselves! Stop feeling guilty and indulge regularly in an activity or a project that you love. 5. Get Enough Exercise Eating healthy and staying hydrated is great, but when combined with regular exercise, you’ve got yourself a home run. Some people shy away at the word exercise. However, any form of activity that increases your heart rate will improve your health.If you’re not a runner or someone that enjoys going to the gym, take a nightly stroll or join an adult dance class. Go swimming, skip rope, join your kids on the trampoline, or join a sports team. Ski, take an aerobics class, or check out that local zumba class!Exercise can be as much fun as you make it, and if you take friends along for the ride it can be much easier to keep each other honest and stick to it. 6. Keep It Natural Many of our household cleaners and products involve a whole host of harmful ingredients. They can include harmful ingredients that we may not even realize are causing us to be ill or have negative side effects.At any rate, many of our trusted household brand names actually pollute both the environment and our bodies. It’s easy to make your own cleaning products using natural ingredients and a quick google will give you a variety to try out. In most cases, you already have everything you need right in your kitchen pantry.Essential oils are often a great addition to many different cleaning products, and many have antiseptic or antibacterial properties that clean your home as well or better than any of the chemicals offered on the market. 7. Your Grooming & Beauty Products Just as with our cleaning products, our grooming and beauty aids can actually have very harmful effects, especially with regards to our skin and other organs. Many of our creams, lotions and soaps contain ingredients that serve as unnecessary fillers. They often have synthetic fragrances to cover the smell of the harsh chemicals whipped into the recipe.It won’t take much digging to come up with a myriad of natural options and recipes that do the job of your store bought products. They just don't have any of the harmful side effects!You probably have most of the ingredients necessary to make your own beauty products and the ones you don’t have are most often easily purchased.Essential oils are again wonderful additions and can provide you with many health benefits. If you’re not into making your own stuff, look for options that use natural, pure ingredients that you can pronounce. Ideally, there should be no added fragrances or fillers.Small, home-based businesses are often good sources. The owners are happy to chat with you about their products. 8. Since I Mentioned It... Essential oils have become more and more popular, and it’s for good reason. Oils can be great for restoring health and to improve our environments, including the air we breathe. There are oils that are perfect for your home or office diffuser, removing allergy triggers. Others improve the condition of our skin and hair.Some oils would do well as additions to your medicine cabinet. They can open airways if you’re stuffy or soothe aches and pains. They can even improve your mood with their energizing or relaxing scents.Use oils to improve the quality of your sleep, improve memory retention, and to prepare you for the day ahead. 9. Enjoy the Outdoors Most of us spend more time in front of a computer than we do enjoying the sounds and sights of nature. You don’t have to fully immerse yourself in a “roughin’ it” camping trip or chew on spruce gum to appreciate your surroundings (although if that appeals to you, fill your boots!)Take a walk through a park or visit a local creek or nature reserve. Often, that's enough of a mental break to make a big impact on the rest of our day.Breathing fresh air and having your mind stimulated by things other than technology can be wonderfully uplifting.Sunshine can certainly improve your mood, but nature provides beauty in other weather as well. Being out in the rain can invoke memories and feelings from childhood. Quiet snowfall can make you feel as if there really is magic in the world. 10. Don’t Forget Our Furry Friends I’m not suggesting you take this decision lightly. However, often a family pet can not only give your life more purpose but can also lead you to get more exercise and invoke feelings of protection and love.Petting a cat or watching fish can significantly reduce stress levels. The company of a beloved dog is incomparable.Pet ownership is a huge responsibility, and there's certainly a lot of work involved. An animal can also cost a lot with regards to proper diet and even vet bills. However, if you know what you’re getting into, a pet can help to give your life meaning and help you to redirect focus from stresses and worries. 11. Drop The Toxins In Your Life I don’t mean the chemical toxins, although this is certainly important as well. Toxic relationships can have a huge impact on the way we feel and the decisions we make.Whether it’s family, “friends” or people at work, try to avoid those that don’t add to your life in a positive way. All relationships have their ups and downs, and your friends need your support during difficult times. However, there are people out there that seem to thrive off consistently causing grief or anxiety in others. Don’t hang on to relationships that don’t provide some benefit and make you feel good. Conclusion The best part of your health, whether it’s your body, mind or spirit, is that you’re in the driver’s seat. Your decisions can have a good or bad impact on your well-being. Even if you haven’t made the best choices up until now, it’s not too late.Whatever level of health you’re experiencing, there are changes you can make to your lifestyle. You don’t have to cut bad habits out completely, or even make all the changes in one clean sweep. A few changes over time and increasingly making decisions that will benefit you will end up having the desired impact.Lean on loved ones for support, and surround yourself with those that will cheer you to the finish line.