Up Your Game This Year With These Health-Focused Ideas

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Every year comes with new commitments to health and innovative ways to get and stay healthy — though many of these tactics are often falsely hyped. We promise to improve ourselves at the start of each year and look for ways to pull that off that fit our longings. That might be changing how you eat or finally getting serious about meditation or focusing on financial stability and savings. There are a lot of ways to approach well-being is what we’re getting at.

Spring feels like a fresh chance to level up after the doldrums of winter. Especially with tax returns rolling in. But ideally, you want to spend most of that cash on a trip. So here are some tips for how to make a positive change in your life, without breaking the bank.

Clear Your Mind, Not Your Account

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Gym memberships that promise results are banking on new members who aren’t fully committed — leaving people stuck in a contract they don’t use but still pay for. Gyms are great if you are 100 percent dedicated to making a positive change. If you’re just at the starting gates though, there are other options. Try taking leisurely walks. Plug in your headphones and simply take a walk around your neighborhood. Although you are challenging your body with physical exercise, you’re also giving your mind a bit of a rest. Use this time to clear your head and each day, add an extra block to your route. Eventually, your body will begin to crave the daily exercise and then, if you believe you can keep up with the commitment of a monthly gym membership, go ahead and sign up for one.

Try Cooking Vegan

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Plant-based everything is a huge leap for those who are new to the lifestyle. Instead, try integrating vegan meals into your diet. It’s fun, affordable, and healthy. In my home, we typically pick something that one of us is craving — beef stew or tacos or a pasta dish — and then we comb through the mazes of online vegan recipes for a plant-based version of whatever we decided on. Then we make it. Simple as that. Try adding “quick meals” to your search to help weed out the tougher recipes.

The goal here is to veganize your cravings using all plant-based ingredients. Cooking is a way to relieve your stress and keep your mind occupied. Plus, the result should be tasty, depending on your cooking skills.

Become a Plant Parent

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Are you ready to add some responsibility to your life? Consider adopting a plant from your local flower shop. There are lots of plants that are very easy to take care of that can quickly impact the way you feel at home. Plants also help recycle air in your home, producing more oxygen for your brain, in turn, creating a healthier environment to exist in.

They’re also beautiful and rather inexpensive, and once you become attached and form a routine with your plant, you’ll soon find yourself wanting to grow a family of greenery. I personally started off with cacti and have since graduated to larger indoor house plants. I find the more greenery I have in my home, the calmer and more grounded I feel when at home. And plants are — bar none — the cheapest design tweak you can ever make to your home.

Give Stoner Yoga A Whirl

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Yoga may not be for everyone. Personally, I’m only motivated to try it when it’s paired with something to help make it more enjoyable. At first, I thought I had found my place within aerial yoga because I enjoyed stretching while hanging upside down. And of course, I dabbled in wine and yoga classes — a great pairing, if you kept to that one glass during class. Otherwise, it just becomes a bit sloppy. Then, of course, there was hot naked yoga which was probably the most stressful class of my life, which led me to my favorite combination of quirky-while-beneficial; stoner yoga.

Depending on where you live and state laws, some yoga studios offer what some refer to as stoner yoga. Most of these classes encourage participants to arrive to class half-baked as consuming cannabis while practicing yoga isn’t always legal (again, depending on where you live). Loosening up with some bud before stretching your way into downward dog is fun. Even if you only go twice a month for financial reasons, it’s a great way to de-stress.

Best of all, this is an easy to take the practice home with you. You can do it for free in your living room — just queue up a yoga class on YouTube and spark the leaf.

Commit to One App That Does It All

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There are probably thousands of fitness apps available to choose from, but if you’re not on the Noom train, you’re doing it wrong. Noom is an app sometimes referred to as “Weight Watchers for Millennials.” The app is part meal-planning, part fitness-tracker, and 100 percent motivational life coach.

The interface is simple: Every day, you’re presented with a list of tasks to complete, starting with logging your meals, weight, and exercise hours. After some short reads and a potential quiz, the app asks you to rate your motivation on a scale of one to five. But you’re also connected with a personal coach who you can exchange messages with any time as well as a group chat where fellow users share accomplishments, frustrations, and questions.

Text Your Therapist

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We’ve all heard it before and know that talking to someone neutral about all your problems is beneficial. But, who has the kind of money to pay for a therapist, let alone the time to visit one? “Two out of three people cannot access mental health care,” Roni Frank, Talkspace co-founder and Head of Clinical Services, told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move last week. “In the last few years, there’s been a cultural shift in our society. Millennials are more open about their mental health struggles … the stigma has decreased, and demand has increased, and millions of people were left without treatment.” TalkSpace is a great alternative for folks needing therapy on the go. Therapy generally ranges from $65 to $250 or more, with some therapists offering sliding fees depending on financial need and psychiatrists in larger cities charge upwards of $350 for a 45-minute session.

Talkspace costs approximately $65 per week, depending on the plan, with the most popular plan being messaging therapy, where you’re messaging your therapist five days a week, and the therapist is going to respond up to three times a day based on your needs. I’m the kind of person that constantly has things running through my mind. So when I get an urge to remember something that I want to tell my therapist, I just send over a quick text within the app and then go on with my day.

Embrace a Water Routine

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We are all aware that we should stay properly hydrated every day but most of us fail to drink enough water as we are too busy juggling hectic work schedules. Each time I see someone drinking water, I always am reminded that I should also be drinking water, but then I move on with my day and forget to drink water.

Thankfully in a world filled with smart devices, there are now smart water bottles that help motivate you to keep drinking so that optimum hydration is reached. Some of the bottles light up when users have not taken a drink in a while, while others are connected to a smartphone app that can help analyze your water intake. Drinking lots of water has an endless benefit. We know it’s good for us but often we choose to neglect our bodies out of laziness. Drop some dime on a tech-friendly water bottle and keep your body hydrated. Once you have the bottle, water will become the most affordable “health hack” around.

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What’s the point? Feeling, looking, and being better, ideally. But with the techniques listed above, you can improve your life significantly without spending a ton of money. Leaving more on the table for your next trip.

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