Four steps to staying healthy when you live alone

Whatever your reasons for living alone, many can find it tough to stay healthy and motivated. It can be hard to cook nutritious meals for just one person, or to find the time or energy to exercise.

In this blog post, we will share five tips for staying healthy when living alone, based on maintaining four key pillars of health: Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep and Relaxation.

Exercise

Living alone means there’s nobody in your home to hold you accountable but you and if your motivation slides, nobody is there to cheer you on. Don’t let this stop you from looking after your health and wellbeing.

If you’re having difficulty staying on track, you could ask a friend or family member to help keep you accountable with your goals and support you.

Make movement part of your daily routine. It can be hard to make new habits but it’s much easier when we attach new habits to existing ones. For example, if you normally make a cup of tea or coffee in the morning, while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, or your tea to brew, take a few minutes to stretch, or do some simple strengthening exercises like sit-ups while you wait. If you’re struggling with balance, maybe practice standing on one leg at a time while you wait.

Start by looking at what things are already a daily habit/routine and then see where you could add on a new habit of movement. Small changes soon add up.

If you’re new to exercise and not sure where to start, maybe there’s an app that can help? We’ve listed our favourites here: The best apps to start an exercise routine.

Nutrition

Preparing meals for one can be a challenge, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs. Ready-made meals are usually highly processed with extra fat, sugar, salt and preservatives so it’s always best to prepare from scratch with whole ingredients if you can.

Ensuring you have healthy, nutritious meals can be made easier with a little bit of organisation. For example:

  • Plan your meals in advance that have cross-over ingredients so that you will not end up wasting food that cannot be used in other recipes. It’s also good to freeze leftover ingredients where possible, even fresh herbs can be frozen and used in sauces so they don’t go to waste.
  • Find recipes and cookbooks aimed at single person portions.
  • Batch-cook food that can be frozen in individual meals. By cooking a full recipe that may serve 4 people then portioning up for the freezer you will have a selection of healthy, homemade meals ready to be defrosted and heated up when you don’t want to cook.
  • If you really don’t enjoy cooking for yourself alone, try inviting a friend over for a meal.
  • Prep a selection of foods that can be stored in the fridge for a few days and added in different combinations to salads or buddha bowls. Things like roasted vegetables, sweet potato cubes and grains can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge and make for really quick meals.

If you’re not really sure where to start with nutrition and what your body needs, a Nutritional Therapy Plan will test your current vitamin and nutrient status, and give advice on what you can do about any deficiencies with support from our Registered Nutritionists and Dietitians.

Compare Nutritional Therapy Plans

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and wellbeing and maintaining a regular sleep pattern (even on weekends) will help regulate your circadian rhythm. Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night but a 2021 study showed that 36% of UK adults struggle to get to sleep at least once a week and the average time

If you’re finding it hard to get to sleep, or staying asleep for the entire night, there are a few things you can do.

  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake before bed. Both of these substances can disrupt your sleep pattern and many health professionals advise against consuming caffeine after midday.
  • Create an environment that promotes relaxation before bedtime. Switch off all electronics screens (phones, laptops etc.) a minimum of 30 minutes before bedtime.
    have a relaxing bath with aromatherapy oils or read a book.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, your body thrives on routine when it comes to your sleep patterns.
  • Take some time outside in the morning light at soon as you get up, or as soon as the sun rises if that is later. Exposure to natural daylight early in the morning helps to set your body’s daily circadian rhythm.

Relaxation

If you live alone you may find it harder to deal with any stress and anxiety that crops up without having someone on hand to talk it through with or support you. In addition to having a supportive network of friends and family on hand, having tools to help yourself to relax and destress will be really helpful.

You could try some mindful movement like yoga, tai chi or walking to boost endorphins and calm your nervous system or maybe start a daily mindfulness or meditation practice to build resilience.

If you’ve heard great things about the benefits of meditation but struggled to make it a habit, we have some tips that may help: 10 tips to improve your meditation practice.