Black Man Reading Book at Park

Welcome to your ultimate guide on what’s in and what’s out when it comes to your health. Making an “in and out” list is a great tool for improving habit changes and overall health. Set yourself up for success and start small. Pick three of the following recommendations for a healthier and happier you!

In: Good sleep 
Out: Stress and sleep deprivation 

Sleep plays a pivotal role in so many aspects of our health, from keeping our minds strong to warding off illness and disease. Unfortunately, many people fail to get the sleep they need, and an estimated 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. have a sleep disorder. Adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night — and the quality of that sleep is crucial. Here are three relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep! 

In: Pleasure Reading 
Out: Binge-watching and doom-scrolling 

In a sea of streaming video and ever-present screens, doom-scrolling and binge-watching are often the entertainment of choice above the more old-school option of reading a book. But research says reading can provide a healthy distraction from life’s day-to-day worries and pressures while also making us smarter, happier, and even more empathetic toward others. Audiobooks are an excellent way to read while engaging in physical activities like walking or exercising. There are free audiobook resources available, such as Librivox, OverDrive, and Audible‘s free trial, which offer a wide range of titles to choose from without any cost.

In: Homemade meals 
Out: Eating out and ordering in 

People are looking for fast and tasty foods to fit busy lifestyles. But whether you’re eating carryout or sit-down restaurant cuisine, researchers say you’ll consume about 200 more calories a day and more saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium than if you made your meals. Cooking at home, however, helps you avoid these pitfalls and is an opportunity for creativity, togetherness, and cost-cutting. 

Looking to improve your cooking skills? Need recipe ideas that are not only healthy but also affordable and simple to make? The VEBA Resource Center offers free in-person and virtual cooking classes to learn how to cook meals from our extensive recipe library.  

In: Saying no 
Out: Always hustling 

Sometimes, your body, mind, or heart sends a message that it needs time off. It’s important to heed that call, especially if it’s coming from all three at once. Occasionally saying no to an invite, request or assignment is a true form of self-care, which can lead to reduced stress; improved mood, immunity, and self-esteem; and a variety of other physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. 

In: Sober curiosity 
Out: Regularly drinking 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, drinking can take a serious toll on your body. Limiting how much you drink or taking a complete break from drinking, what some refer to as being “sober curious,” can help boost your immunity, limit your risk of disease, lead to weight loss, and improve your sleep, concentration, energy, performance, skin health, and even your relationships. 

In: Hygge 
Out: FOMO 

Everyone occasionally experiences FOMO, or the fear of missing out, but going to every social event can be exhausting and expensive and can lead to overindulgence in food and alcohol. Instead, consider enjoying more “hygge,” a concept originating in Denmark and Norway, which means to take time away from the daily rush to be together with people you care about — or even by yourself — to relax and enjoy life’s quieter pleasures.” 

VEBA’s Self-Regulation Toolkit is a great starting point with daily 5-minute activities that will help you use your time more mindfully!  

In: Digital detox 
Out: Endless screen time 

On average, Americans spend more than seven hours looking at a screen. And most use their smartphones for over three and a half hours every day — not counting when they’re talking to someone. All this screen time can have negative effects on your health, both physical and mental, which is why experts recommend no more than two hours of screen time per day. Here are some tips to regulate phone use more healthily. 

In: Authentic friendships 
Out: Accumulating social media “friends” 

Friendship is good for your health. When you’re with friends, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which combats stress and creates calm. And the more time spent with friends, the less likely you are to develop health issues and dementia. But creating and sustaining friendships takes commitment far beyond “liking” the occasional post. One study found it takes hundreds of hours — all worth it — to become true friends. 

In: Movement every day 
Out: Overexercising 

The CDC recommends adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity activity each week. However, you don’t need to spend hours in the gym to meet this goal. Thirty minutes a day, just five days a week will do the trick. Pushing your limits can lead to poor performance and health problems, including overuse and stress injuries, too much weight loss, and decreased immune performance. 

VEBA members can sign up for live classes, in-person and virtually, available seven days a week! There’s also a video library of on-demand classes you can access anytime, anywhere. 

In: Water 
Out: Caffeine-laden energy drinks 

Water is an ideal choice for hydration. While some people prefer sports drinks over water because of the taste and added electrolytes, the standard sports drink contains 140 calories, 34 grams of added sugar, and 270 milligrams of sodium. Additionally, excess caffeine can be harmful, causing changes in heart rate, increased blood pressure, anxiety, sleep and digestive issues, headaches, and dehydration. 

Now it’s your turn: What’s on your “in and out” list? If you’re unsure where to start, California Schools VEBA has developed a library of downloadable resources to equip you with the support you need to navigate your health and well-being journey. As they say, out with the old, in with the new!

Thank you to our content partners at Sharp HealthCare.