Whether working in Corporate America or slaving away as a full-time mom, it is all too easy to fall into an unhealthy lifestyle in this day and age. Do you often find yourself feeling depleted or discouraged? Have you been wanting to change your life for the better, but not sure where to start?
The good news is that just like your daily coffee and binge reruns of Orange is the New Black, cultivating healthy habits is as easy as making a date with your bedroom after doing a lap around the produce section at the grocery store (with your shopping cart, of course). All of us need a little boost of motivation sometimes, so check out the tips below and get ready to create some healthy new habits!
1. Eat Healthy
Eighty percent of the immune system is in the gut, so it’s no surprise that eating poorly can lead to illness, fatigue, and a general unwell feeling. The aisles lining our grocery stores are packed with items full of chemicals and preservatives that can overtax our bodies and wear down our immunity. In addition to wreaking havoc on our digestion, these foods can deplete your vitamin and mineral stores and, believe it or not, leave you malnourished.
Eating healthy is as easy as making the decision to do so. Focus on eating clean, whole foods that aren’t processed or filled with sugar and food additives. Fortunately, for every unhealthy item available, there are just as many healthy alternatives! Instead of cereal, fill your morning bowl with steel cut oatmeal topped with honey and fresh fruit. Instead of eating out for lunch, pack a salad of lean meat and plenty of raw veggies and fruit to snack on throughout the day.
Avoiding an unhealthy binge session is as easy as being prepared for that 3 PM sugar craving so that you reach for a handful of grapes instead of the candy bar button on the vending machine at work.
2. Exercise Regularly
You don’t have to be a cardio junkie to reap the long-lasting benefits of daily exercise. A simple walk or bike ride through the neighborhood can do the trick, as long as you make sure you’re active for at least thirty minutes a day. Need motivation? Sign up for a 5K race and print off a training plan. Whether planning to run or walk it, knowing how many miles you need to cover each day will help keep you on track. Get a friend to join you and schedule your training runs in your calendar. You will find that you’re much less likely to skip out on a run if someone’s out there waiting for you!
Building muscle can also help strengthen your bones and heart and can make you stronger all over, so doctors often recommend some kind of strength training program when talking about an exercise routine. In addition to cardio, be sure to hit the gym a couple days a week for a light session with the weights.
Not sure where to begin? Hire a trainer for a month to show you the ropes. Don’t belong to a gym? Many workout programs are available free online, and you can either use body weight (push-ups, squats, lunges, etc.) or invest in a set of barbells for home.
3. Get More Rest
There may be so much to do and so little time to do it in, but sacrificing precious zzz’s to fit more into your day will only cause harm in the long run. Scientists and doctors alike have been advising people for years to take the amount of sleep they get seriously. Sometimes it can seem hard to fit in 8 hours of sleep a night, especially in the “go get ‘em” society we live in, but it is essential to give your body the necessary time it needs to recoup.
Luckily, adding more sleep to your day is surprisingly easy. Make bedtime a priority — just like you would a meeting or date with a friend. Set an alarm if necessary. Turn off all devices an hour before bed and do something calming, whether it be bathing, reading, meditating, or stretching. Your body will quickly adapt to getting 8 hours of night and you can bet it will thank you!
4. Be Kind
Believe it or not, kindness is more than a virtue, it’s a habit that can add countless benefits to your life. By purposely adding kindness into every facet of your day, you will be astonished by how much better you will feel about yourself.
No matter if you approach a person you don’t know or interact with your friends, people will react to and treat you better. Your attitude, as well as theirs, will be better for it. Being kind doesn’t have to mean volunteering at a soup kitchen each weekend (though if that’s your desire, go for it!). Kindness is often most appreciated when it comes in the form of a compliment to a friend or co-worker. Hold the door for the person behind you even if it takes them a while to catch up. Each day is full of opportunities to cultivate kindness and positivity.
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to lose touch with our inner selves and lose our peace and footing. Meditation is an easy and effective way to center yourself before heading out into the day or regroup once back home. Transcendental Medidation is just one of many types of meditation which aims to help you achieve inner peace, mindfulness, and overall wellbeing.
Pick a time in the morning or evening each day to just sit and be. Turn off your phone and tune out all noise except for that of your breathing. Get in touch with yourself so that you can approach the rest of the world as a peaceful, confident being.
Whether it be an online blog or a bedside journal, put your pen to the page and let your words flow. With the rise of social media, we spend less time face-to-face these days and more time trying to paint a picture-perfect portrait of what our lives are. Where are all of your thoughts, fears, and worries hiding? Keeping them inside can lead to anger and mood issues and even the need for counseling later down the road. Writing down your thoughts, dreams, and fears is an easy, yet incredibly effective, way to share an intimate piece of yourself — whether it’s with the entire web or just the lines on a paper.
7. Create a Routine
Last, but definitely not least, combine all of your healthy habits and daily demands and plug them into a daily routine. The consistency of repeating firmly rooted habits will help you stay focused on your priorities so that you are less likely to be distracted by the unimportant things in life. Beginning a daily routine is as simple as jotting down a schedule of the day or plugging it into your Google calendar. Just as children thrive on routines, so do we as adults! As your mother used to say, “Come up with a plan and stick to it!” You’ll be glad you did.