Healthy habits are hard to start and even harder to maintain. They take discipline–the not-as-fun and party-pooper cousin to motivation. Motivation can help you get started, but what gets you out of bed at 6am on a frigid December day to go jog or gym will be Discipline. However, that is not the focus of this article. It will help, but first there are easier steps to take to cultivate discipline from a tiny seedling into a magnificent tree. These healthy habits will help motivate you to practice discipline, but more importantly, to begin the process of feeling your best every day. When you feel your best, you’re ready to tackle your problems. Here’s a few easy ways to start feeling better daily.
Scheduling Big and Small
The first step in your healthful, amazing journey is starting a schedule. Humans are creatures of habit. We like our homes just so, our food just so, and our lives a steady stream of improvements rather than a flood of change all at once. With this in mind, how do you build a schedule? Write down the most important parts of your day and how long they take. Then, loosely order them for the desired time of day to work them in.
My schedule looks something like this:
- 6am-7:30am: wakeup/gym
- 8am-9am: walk the dogs/breakfast/make lunch/shower
- 10am-6pm: work/lunch
- 6pm-7pm: cook dinner/clean up from the day
- 7pm-9pm: eat/free fun time/get ready for bed
- 9pm-10pm: bed time
I’ve had a lot of time to develop this schedule and I really like it. I am a creature of habit and I know what I want most. This schedule allows me time for fitness and cooking for a healthy body and work and reading for a healthy mind with a sprinkle of fun stuff on top. Your schedule may be different. You may hate cooking and prefer to eat out. That’s totally ok, as long as you allow yourself time for the event. Having a schedule gives you peace of mind that you have enough time to do everything in a day and takes away the chaos of unordered, anxious thoughts. If creating a schedule every day is overwhelming – good news! You can write out tentative schedules for every day of the week on Sunday, leaving yourself wiggle room for unexpected chaos. Creating a daily schedule – regardless of the level of detail – is an important step in helping yourself become more healthful and happy.
There’s a reason to eat your veggies!
This second point addresses an internal rather than external problem: Are you eating enough vegetables? Vegetables, in general, are a good source of many vitamins and minerals you may be missing especially if you follow the traditional American diet of “Oh god what’s for dinner I guess we’re getting pizza again.” You don’t even have to cook the veggies yourself. You can get them as sides in most restaurants or buy them frozen “steam-in-bag.” Vegetables give your body plenty of healthy, slow-burn fuel to use throughout the day, and they really do help to regulate bathroom breaks. They come in a variety of tastes and colors, as anyone who has been to a grocery store can tell you. And you don’t have to eat them raw if you don’t want. You can dress them up with all kinds of herbs and spices and sauces or find your favorite raw veggies for a snack. Try creating a rainbow plate of your favorites or try a vegetable bowl a few nights a week with color and your favorite chill-out beverage.
Go at your own pace
Another easy way to help yourself feel better is getting sunlight. If you live in Texas like I do, this probably isn’t something you even consider in your daily life. If you live in Texas you should also buy stock in a sunscreen company, but that’s advice for another article. For people living in cloudy or cold climates, there is a real need to get enough sunlight every day. Sunlight is the primary source for Vitamin D via ultraviolet rays. Vitamin D helps your body absorb and maintain levels of calcium and phosphate, two nutrients vital to the growth and maintenance of healthy bones. You can then use your healthy bones to walk around outside or go for a run or garden. Being outside in fresh air with sunlight around you is a great and free way to improve your daily mood. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Wake up with the “sun”
This point continues the theme of sunlight and brightness with a recommendation for a sunrise alarm clock. These are alarm clocks that, much like the sun, wake you up naturally with gradual light over a period of time. You can find also models that play sounds; the one I like plays bird calls for me every morning. This prevents what I like to call “sleep hangovers” – that time when your alarm clock jolts you out of a really great dream and you can still feel the tendrils of it pulling you back to sleep and the choice between waking up for the gym and getting back to that vacation in the Seychelles seems extremely easy because you’re already 90% back to sleep. But what else is a benefit of this kind of alarm clock, other than a gentle wake up? They help keep your circadian rhythm intact or at least close to the ideal. Waking up and going to sleep with the sun is something humans have done for millennia unless you had the means to burn oil, candles, or wood. Keeping a natural rhythm of wake up and bed times helps keep you from being tired and groggy, which gives you more energy for the day. When you have more energy, you have more determination to continue with your healthy habits, creating a positive feedback loop for yourself.
The Bottom Line
Simple, easy, and effective healthy habits are essential to a happier life. When you hold yourself accountable to the things you want to do, such as keep to a schedule or eat more veggies, you lay the foundation for healthy habits.
I hope you can follow this advice and please be kind to yourself, those you love, and those you encounter in day-to-day interactions. Every life is a journey and everyone is on their own path at their own pace. These are my suggestions for starting or helping you down a more positive, healthful direction. Please comment or send an email with any questions. I would love to help you and hear from you!
Katherine Reynolds is the Business Solutions Coordinator for Bardwrite N.A. and the Social Media Coordinator for Docforce. She has a passion for helping people and organization and enjoys working closely with others. If she isn’t in the office or at home reading and playing with her dogs, she’s out in the boonies hiking.