Make the best out of your time on this earth! I’ve assembled my top 10 habits that will make a difference to your health and wellbeing.
- Waking Up
- Face & Skin Care
- Physical Activity
- Do Nothing
The fuel that you put into your body affects how much energy you have and your long-term health. Learn a few go-to strategies to take your eating from “okay” to crisp, clean fuel. When planning your plate fill half with vegetables, then use the remaining space to portion meat and carbs/starch. If you’re an omnivore, that is. Portions in traditional American food put more weight towards proteins and bread in a meal. Another rule of thumb for clean eating is to create structures for decision making—for instance if presented with fish as an option for a meal decide to always say yes to fish. Some fish are high in mercury, like tuna and shark, but overall fish have quality nutrients and are high in good fats, omega fatty acids. Another idea is to limit processed sugars by putting a cap on grams-per-serving. Anything over 10grams is a “no,” anything under is a “yes.” The fun of this is to think up mantras that will help you to put the highest quality fuel in your body that is available to you.
Get good quality sleep.
Nap, if you must.
It is easy to cut sleep when you are in a busy season of life. But you will be more productive at a high quality of performance if you get enough sleep. Medical Research has concluded that getting enough sleep is linked to better brain function, among many other benefits. If you have been feeling friend, think about your sleep. Tracking your sleep can help you monitor your rest—most smartwatches will track your sleep if you wear them to bed. You can set goal bedtimes and wakeup times and length of sleep as well. Having a good bedtime routine will help you get the rest you need.
3) Wake. Up.
Without snoozing multiple times.
Out of bed, moving around.
Waking up is one of those elusive secrets of adulthood that I am still working to master. Getting out of bed has always been my least favorite time of day. Getting enough sleep makes this so much easier. Know yourself by knowing what your best night of sleep looks like, for me, that’s 7-9 hours. What you do within the first 30 minutes of being awake is key. Make sure it’s something that you are looking forward to and it will be a cinch to pop up and get going in the morning. If you’re looking for ideas, check out Robin Sharma’s 5AM Club for tips on how to structure your best morning.
If I had to choose between times I’ve been dehydrated and the few moments in my life I’ve been truly hydrated…. It’ not rocket science to conclude that getting enough water leads to better physical performance. The go-to advice to drink 8-cups of water is a decent goal, more and less are also good. I aim to drink two 32-ounce bottles of water each day when my job is very active. I feel a difference if I get busy and forget to drink one, in my joints, my mouth, and my brain function. Learn more about water intake and the human body from Mayo Clinic.
5) Value your Relationships.
Believe it or not, a sense of belonging is important to mental health. Feeling connected and valued by others is something humans will do just about anything for. Tend the garden of your relationships carefully. Some say this is the meaning of life. Make time to call, send a card, or even a text to just say hello and how are you to the people in your life. They cannot feel your love if you don’t show it to them. When you reach out you can sometimes change someone’s course in this journey of life. Humans are incredibly social creatures, and it is one of our biggest strengths.
6) Face & Skin Care.
Wash your face.
Don’t touch your face. Leave it alone.
I didn’t get a normal skincare routine together until I turned 30 last year. Locked down in the pandemic I had nothing but time to rein in my habits. I’ve always had some acne here and there, so I dabbled at products containing medicated ingredients. My long nights of internet research and months of testing have told me that to protect my skin and treat occasional acne all I need was 3 things. 1) salicylic acid face wash. I use 0.2%. 2) Occasional use of benzoyl peroxide for blemishes. I use Clearasil which is 10%. 3) A non-comedogenic (pore-clogging) moisturizer with SPF 15+. And—just wash your face. Especially if you wear makeup, just washing your face with a little soap and water goes a long way towards clearer, happier skin.
7) Physical Activity.
Anything is better than nothing.
You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health.
Taking a walk, doing some yoga, gardening, playing with the dog—all activity is activity, it all counts. The best kind of workout is one that you enjoy doing and look forward to doing. Sometimes that could be going for hikes with the dog. Sometimes it’s YouTube dance classes. Maybe it’s physical therapy exercises right now.
Yes, this is separate from physical activity. The goal of activity is to get your blood pumping and your muscles moving, maybe even do some impact to build your bone density. Stretching is for your ligaments and tissues. There are tons of great, quick, stretch routines online, check out this 10 minute morning stretch. Everyone’s body is different, and you know yourself best. Wherever you feel the most stiffness or lack of mobility is where you should focus. My hips and back are always my problem area, I try to stretch out the front of my hips with this stretch (9:50) and my back with this stretch. You can do a stretch routine when you first wake up, or while watching TV or listening to the news. If you want to go deeper, try Yin Yoga, which focuses on extended holds of deep stretches. If you’ve never tried Yin, you will be surprised how that long hold releases deep tension. I highly recommend Boho Beautiful’s Yin classes, they have a ton of free offerings on Youtube.
Just do it.
It took me 30 years and pandemic lockdown to get a good flossing schedule up and running. This may not be as high stakes for some, but for me it is. I have terrible enamel and get cavities easily. Flossing every day and using ACT has been a game-changer for me. I use floss picks that are disposable, so I don’t have to put my whole fists in my mouth, even though it means I am using more plastic. I have seen some great reusable pick options but haven’t tried them yet. I keep my picks right where I can see them by the sink. Anything that is part of my morning routine I can see laid out. That’s just how my mind works.
0) Do nothing.
Decompression is necessary for life, especially in the modern world of noise and short attention spans. Make time to do nothing. When I need rest, I find myself anxiously doing chores, or anxiously avoiding my thoughts with TV or scrolling on my phone. However, these activities don’t fill me or empty me, they merely distract me. There is nothing quite like sitting on the porch and staring blankly out into the grass. I am such a do-er that this is quite uncomfortable for the first few minutes as my hands and busy brain try to come up with things for me to do. I let my mind go crazy for a few minutes and then it calm. I often get my best ideas from this place of calm non-action. If nothing else, I feel rejuvenated and filled by reaching this state of mind rest.
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