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7 Easy-to-Cultivate Habits for a Healthier Day

7 Easy-to-Cultivate Habits for a Healthier Day

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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5. Meditate

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.

6. Journal

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.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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