By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

Time is often cited as a barrier to becoming the best and healthiest version of ourselves.

In America, it’s common to prioritize our work and care of others over our own health. While this is noble, when it makes us unwell, we become less effective in our productivity.

Many of my health-coaching clients are busy professionals with families who struggle to keep their health a priority. It is through small, conscious and deliberate steps made consistently over time that they begin to find lasting success.

 Here are six simple strategies that can help you stay healthy in your busy life:

 1. Choose water over sweetened drinks. This choice requires no extra time, is less expensive and goes a long way to keep diabetes and inflammation at bay. You don’t have to give up your favorite drinks forever. But it’s important to note that it’s usually not what we do some of the time that creates disease in the body, but what we do all or most of the time.

 2. Choose whole foods over processed foods for snacks. No extra time is required and fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber to keep you regular as well as healing properties that help prevent cancer and elevate your mood.

 3. Schedule walking meetings at work, while traveling on business or even when visiting family. If it’s necessary to take notes, bring your phone and record voice memos while you walk.

Taking walks around the block with your family after dinner is a great way to improve digestion and encourage healthy habits in others.

 4. Make a smoothie for breakfast. Smoothies make eating vegetables easy. Greens today often come pre washed and ready to blend. Add a handful of fresh or frozen berries for taste. Half of an avocado will add good fats to create a creamier texture and keep you satisfied until lunch. Want more protein? While protein powder is a processed food, it’s a quick and often delicious addition.

 5. Take a moment whenever possible to take a calm deep inhalation and a full exhalation. Stress management doesn’t have to happen in an ashram in India. This small act of bringing consciousness to the breath has fast and positive effects on heart rate, mood and stress levels. It costs nothing and can be done anytime, anywhere.

 6. Schedule creativity into your week. If you spend a couple of hours on social media or streaming movies, set aside an hour where you will be creative instead. Have a pen and paper handy, dust off your musical instrument, crank up the music and dance, immerse yourself in fly tying—whatever it means for you to be creative. Creativity feeds the soul and helps make life feel more interesting and meaningful.

Which of these six tips are you already doing? Which one would you most like to add to your routine? When it comes to being the best and healthiest version of ourselves, it’s like peeling an onion; we make changes one layer at a time. The 80/20 rule says that if we make healthy choices 80 percent of the time and allow for wiggle room the other 20 percent, we’ll be in good shape.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, culture consultant and public speaker. Contact her at Jackie@corehealthmt.com.