Simple daily habits that boost your health and especially those non-diet efforts seem like a far fetched dream? It is and it isn’t. Let’s break this down to help you understand why I say both.
It doesn’t always mean easy and I think we forget that. Simple means it’s easy to understand. Having an understanding of something usually breaks down some of the barriers that have kept us from doing them. Easy is another thing altogether. Simple is most of the time pretty universal.
But the ease of doing something will vary by person. What is easy for me may be hard for you. So don’t beat yourself up if you read some of these, or maybe even try some of them, and you have a harder time getting them to stick. So I challenge you to truly understand the concepts behind each of these habits. It may help you find your own unique way to make them easier for you.
Daily. This part may scare you. Especially if you have tried to incorporate similar things before on a daily basis and haven’t been able to make them long term habits. But just because I suggest you create a daily habit of each of these (and I’ve kept them small enough to help you find room for them), doesn’t mean you have to start out doing them every day. Maybe you start by just doing it once. See how it feels. If you liked it, try it again the next day. Or maybe try it again next week. Work up to daily at your own pace.
And there’s that word habit. It might be the most written about word in self-care. But what does it really mean? It just means to have a behavior that you do regularly. They are usually triggered by an event and they result in a reward of some sort for yourself. The reward is what keeps you coming back.
The triggering behavior can be a bit trickier to nail down, but as you’re developing these new habits, I encourage you to choose triggering behaviors that fit with the habit you’re trying to create. Maybe it fits because of the timing (ie. morning routines). Maybe it fits because of the location (ie. in the kitchen). Or perhaps it fits because of convenience (ie. playing your favorite music while you prepare dinner, and maybe even breaking out into your very own dance party!).
Whatever you do, the rewards are usually inherent, but if you’re struggling to find or notice the reward because it isn’t timely enough (ie. improving blood sugars takes time but is still a reward, but a sticker chart to fill up showing you drank another glass of water is an immediate reward for your brain).
Alright, enough about why I think these simple daily habits are both far-fetched and achievable at the same time. Let’s get on to those habits!
Meditation should be kept simple
Meditate for 60 seconds before every meal or snack. Nobody has to know you’re doing it. You can sit at your desk or the lunch table or sneak away to the bathroom…and for that matter…do it when you’re peeing too. You don’t need special music, although if you can pop in some ocean waves or nature sounds while you do this, all the better.
There are lots of free apps like Calm and Headspace, or you can find some on audible or any of the music streaming apps. Just be sure to avoid any sleep or deep relaxation-inducing music right before a big presentation or if you need to be alert like driving a car (meditation and driving don’t mix). No, I haven’t lost my marbles. Think about it. Meditation is focusing on one thing, like your breathing or a picture or the movement of your stomach as you breathe. It’s an opportunity to tune out everything else.
And that makes room for things like noticing those body signals about hunger and fullness and when you’re so tense your shoulders have tightened all the way up to your ears without you realizing it. (You just relaxed your shoulders didn’t you?)
Don’t forget about your breathing
Take 2 minutes a day to purposefully slow your breathing. Do something like a count of 4 or 5 on the inhale and then double it for your exhale. Breathing like this does wonders to clear brain clutter, help lower blower pressure, improves your immune system by relaxing that fight or flight response for a bit and giving those adrenal glands a much needed break. How will this help you with your non-diet efforts?
Remember that fight or flight I just mentioned? When the body is in a state of stress and that response is active, nerves divert attention away from non-urgent things like digesting your breakfast. This lack of attention to the gut from your nervous system can eventually lead to things like bloat, indigestion, and other tummy troubles. It can make you feel like crap. How did you eat the last time you felt like crap? How willing were you to tune in to and listen to hunger and fullness signals?
You weren’t. You just wanted the discomfort to go away. Some people live every day all day like this. It’s impossible to hear those body signals about hunger when the only gut sensations you know are that of pain and irritation.
Journaling is a simple daily habit that has loads of benefits
Journal for 5 minutes a day. There’s magic that happens when you write out your thoughts and emotions. These thoughts can be about anything. Which can feel daunting to some of you I know. If that’s you, then grab your phone and Google some journal questions to ask yourself. Start simple and easy though. If you’ve never journalled before, I wouldn’t start the first day trying to answer the meaning of life or anything. . Just practicing noticing your thoughts and writing them down
We can’t forget the fun!
Fun.. Do one thing every day that brings you true joy. When you feel joy and are having fun, the hormones dopamine and serotonin levels rise. These hormones are your feel good hormones and they have memory and mood stability boosting benefits too. So take some time to read a good book, call a friend, or watch funny cat videos. Or maybe break out into that dance party in the kitchen we talked about earlier!
Sleep habits may not be so simple, but at least you’re already doing it daily
Sleep is possibly the most important part of your day. Getting enough sleep is important to hormonal balance and emotional stability which plays a huge role in your ability to make wise decisions. But not all sleep is created equal and if you struggle to get a “good night’s sleep”, you know this better than anyone. While there are lots of recommendations about how to improve your sleep, I think the first place I’d start is getting to bed at similar times each night.
Keep movement enjoyable to make it a daily habit
Move. I know you feel like you move all day every day. Especially if you have littles to keep up with. But BEFORE all that starts, take a few minutes to do a little stretching before you even get out of bed. Start by wiggling your fingers and toes, then pointing and flexing your feet at the ankles. Then pull your legs up to your chest one at a time (or as far as you can comfortably go). Pull your arms across your chest one at a time. Move your head from side to side and up and down to stretch those neck muscles. Do what feels good and move slow enough to not jar anything awake. This gets the blood flowing to all parts of your body and helps wake you up and energize you for the day.
Water is vital to the healthy functioning of your body. Now, I’m not here to tell you how much to drink and this is not some crazy “drink a gallon of water a day” challenge, but there are a couple things to keep in mind to help you know if your body is getting enough. First, do you feel thirsty? If you haven’t slowed down long enough to recognize your thirst, that mediation habit we talked about way up at the top should help with this. Drink (water) for your thirst.
Second, what color is your pee. Yep, I said it. The goal is to keep your urine a light yellow color. If it appears dark or concentrated (you may notice a stronger odor too), you probably need to be drinking more water. Try to keep a glass by your bedside at night to help you develop a habit of taking a drink of water first thing in the morning.
Practicing a thankful attitude is a simple daily habit that brings health benefits
Gratitude might be the second most written about topic in self-care (second to habits as a whole). While that’s just my opinion (so don’t go looking for a source for that), it’s simply an indicator of how important it really is. Gratitude is a way for you to reset and refocus your attention onto the things that are valuable and impactful in your life. Gratitude is also a mindset and creating a habit of thinking of (and writing down) the top 1 to 3 things you are grateful for each day, right before you go to bed, can help you sleep more soundly and wake with a better mindset.
Whittle down your to-do list
If you were to look at your to do list, how many of the items on it are there because you couldn’t say no? Taking on too much creates overwhelm. Feeling compelled to “do it all” sets you up for feelings of failure. Take some time today to review your to do list and begin finding ways to minimize or remove things that you’d really rather not do or that you are only doing because you feel some sort of surface level obligation. You’ll notice that when you begin saying no and protecting those boundaries of your to do list, the work you are able to do on the items that remain on your list will increase exponentially. Try developing a habit of saying no at least once every day to really work that muscle.
What you have here is a simple list of daily habits you can begin creating that will, when done regularly, have a ripple effect of benefiting your health. It’s always great to get new ideas, but be sure to add each one in at a pace that works for you instead of against you.
I’d love to hear from you, what simple daily habits do you do that have made a huge difference in your health?