21 Healthy Habits for a Better Life
21 Daily Habits for A Better Life
There’s no doubt about it, how you start your day off sets the tone for the remainder of your day. You can begin your day by hitting the snooze button a few times, dragging yourself out of bed at the last minute, rushing to get ready, running out the door with a cup of coffee and a stale doughnut, completely disregarding the speed limit signs on your drive to work, and then arrive late, or with only minutes to spare. Or, you can begin your day with this list of great morning habits to ensure that your day starts off on the right note. My suggestion? Go with the latter.
In this blog, we’ll analyze some ideas that literally only require 5-10-minutes of your morning. First, though, let’s discuss the benefits of having a morning routine. To begin with, most people are the most productive when they wake up, and having a routine in place ensures that they can perpetuate that level of productivity for longer periods of time. Following a morning routine will lessen the typical commotion we’re faced with, whether it’s simply getting ready for work or preparing the kids for their day at school. It gives you the opportunity to be methodical and better organized for the rest of the day; and, most importantly, incorporating some of these daily habits will help you to create sustainable energy and the proper “mentality” to undertake the challenges of the busy day ahead. Nearly all the Fortune 500 leaders follow a morning routine, which goes to further prove the benefits of having one yourself.
Below, you’ll find a list of routine habits for nearly every aspect in your life – We’re talking career-wise, health-wise, and even relationship and spirituality-wise. Believe it or not, everything on the list below can be accomplished in mere minutes. And, no, you needn’t wake at 4:00 am every morning; just determine which of these positive habits make the most sense for you and set aside some time in the morning to integrate them. You can even set aside 20-30-minutes and bundle them together to get the most out of your morning.
1. Create a Daily Schedule – Est. Time: 5 Min.
Without a schedule, it’s easy to make it through the day and realize that you didn’t accomplish anything worthwhile. Try making a list of the tasks you’d like to complete by the end of the day and then prioritize it. Make sure that you’re realistic about the duties you’ve set forth, both in the amount of time it takes to complete and your rate of efficiency. I’d suggest using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to rate each task appropriately.
2. Manage a Food Journal – Est. Time: 5 Min.
This is an especially good idea for those who are trying to lose weight, or those who just want to live a healthier lifestyle. Maintaining a food journal helps you keep track of what you’re putting into your body and how much you’re consuming over the course of your day. Food journals hold you accountable, encourage you to snack less or snack more smartly, aid you to meet your health goals, and provide a physical representation of chronic habits that may be unhealthy for you. Need some help? Start with The Benefits of Keeping a Food Journal.
3. Drink Lemon Water – Est. Time: 2 Min.
Begin your day by drinking a glass of lemon water; 16 ounces with just a few drops of lemon. (Ensure that your water is safe and clean by using a water purifier or filter). Incorporating this routine assists you in waking up faster; provides your body with essential vitamins and nutrients; aids your digestive system and allows your organs to function properly; reduces feelings of hunger; and it also helps freshen your breath.
4. Weigh Yourself Daily – Est. Time: 1 Min.
I’ve no doubt that most readers will dislike this tip. However, weighing yourself regularly can help you establish concise fitness and health goals. Remember to keep in mind that your weight fluctuates throughout the day, so try not to get too depressed if your weight goes up, or even down, a bit. Also, be sure to weigh yourself at the same time each day to guarantee the accuracy of the results.
5. Take Your Vitamins – Est. Time: 2 Min.
Daily vitamins are fundamental for nearly everyone, and taking them consistently will make you feel better overall. Vitamins can give your body the support it needs to get started and help you to stay focused throughout your day. Remember to read the directions to ensure that you’re taking them properly (i.e. some vitamins suggest taking with food to encourage their absorption). Vitamins are essential because they increase your awareness and mental capabilities; support the building and maintaining of your immune system; promote strength in your muscles and bones; and ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
6. Read a Personal Finance Article – Est. Time: 5 Min.
There’s no such thing as “overeducation”, especially when it comes to your personal finances. Whether you’re a homeowner or are hoping to be one, are responsible for putting your kid(s) through college, or just looking to purchase a new car, knowing how your money is spent and/or how it’s invested, is invaluable (no pun intended) to your future financial goals. Some websites I’ve come across are Money Crashers, Wise Bread, and Budgets Are Sexy (a bit unexpected). If you’d like to keep it simple by scanning these websites, you can sign up for a Feedly account free of charge, add these sites to your feed, and simply scroll through them.
7. Save $ on Your Utilities – Est. Time: 5 Min.
Turning off the lights and appliances in your home prior to heading out to work, or whatever it is that you fill your days with, can save you a considerable amount of money on a monthly, and yearly, basis. Bonus: it also helps the environment. Include a series of all or some of these short and simply actions: Turn off the lights when you leave a room; open windows or utilize fans to cool down your place during the summertime instead of running the AC; use cold water for your laundry (this simple change costs around 40 cents per load when compared to washing with hot water); turn off electronics when not in use; and if you’re leaving your home for a few days, try turning off your water heater to conserve still more energy.
8. Open Your Blinds – Est. Time: 1 Min.
Exposure to natural light has been proven to aid your mood, mental state, and your perception; it regulates your body’s Circadian Rhythm (or sleep/wake cycle); and enables more efficiency when completing common tasks. Want to learn more about the benefits of natural light exposure? Check out the Advantages of Exposure to Natural Light.
9. Complete a Short Workout – Est. Time: 7 Min.
Want to be healthier and fitter, but can’t afford a gym membership? Try an app like 7 Minute Workout, which acts as a personal trainer to guide you through a 12-exercise total body workout. Just pull up the app and complete the recommended trainings. Exercising in the morning guarantees that any unexpected outings like an impromptu business dinner or overtime of your son’s football game, doesn’t obstruct your health/fitness goals; plus, because exercising boosts your energy, it’ll help you to maintain that energy throughout your day.
10. Create, and Maintain, A “Wish List” – Est. Time: 5 Min.
Keep an ongoing list of things that you would like to do - specifically, fun things. Not to be confused with your list of goals, this list offers a promise of recreational or relaxation activities, both for solo activities or activities you’d like to do with others. Some examples are: sleeping in until noon on a day off, playing catch with your son or teaching your daughter the ins and out of riding a bike, or perhaps a date night with your SO. Next, make the time to do these things. It’ll give you something to look forward at the end of a long week full of back-to-back meetings at the office, or yet another parley with the PTA at your child(rens) school.
11. Make Your Bed – Est. Time: 2 Min.
Sometimes the simplest of actions can have a powerful impact on your daily achievements. During a commencement speech at Univ. of Texas, US Navy Admiral William H. McCraven said this to the graduation class:
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
12. Meditate – Est. Time: 5 Min.
Meditation requires you to maintain focus on one single happening (such as your breathing, or the ticking of a clock) and teaches you to block out all other surrounding stimuli. There are countless benefits of meditation, for example: less overall stress, increased memory and comprehension, improvement of concentration, boosts in energy and creativity; and feelings of happiness. Some people can meditate for hours, while others can only manage a few minutes. Regardless of how much time you can commit, incorporating meditation into your morning routine will help you to begin your day with a clean slate, and a clear mind. Don’t know where to begin? Check out Meditation for Beginners.
13. Create a Routine for Preparing to Leave the House – Est. Time: 5 Min.
From a psychological standpoint, being disorganized and rushed in the morning can create unnecessary stress that can easily bleed into the entirety of your day. My suggestion? Set aside some time the evening before to compile all the items you will need for the following day and place them near your front door, or even in your car. When you awaken, everything you need for a successful day will be prepared. Such items may include: schoolbooks, homework, your purse or briefcase, and your lunch or some snacks. Committing to the habit of preparing these things in the evening will help to eliminate the stresses you may feel in the morning.
14. Explore a Fun Activity – Est. Time: 10 Min.
Make some time each week to research a few intriguing events that you can participate in with family and/or friends. With apps and websites like Meetup.com, Only In Your State, Geocaching, and Eventful, it’s easier than ever to find exciting things to do in your free time. After an arduous week of work, kids, and errands, having something to look forward to will make it all seem worthwhile.
15. Tackle the "Little Things" – Est. Time: 2 Min.
If you’re like me, you probably have a number of little things around your home that haven’t been accomplished, simply because they just aren’t that important when compared to the multitude of other things we need to do over the course of your day – And I bet that list is never-ending. Some common “little things” are: unmade beds, unsorted laundry, mail that has accumulated, and a clean, but unloaded, dishwasher. Most of these tasks can be completed in a matter of moments, but most of us choose to ignore them and push them to the back burner. Take care of these things and you’ll see an undeniable decrease in your stress levels.
16. Drink a Cup o’ Tea – Est. Time: 5 Min.
Drinking a warm, calming beverage, like a cup of tea, has both mental and physical benefits. Concerning your health, drinking tea (more specifically, green tea) has numerous detoxifying effects on your body. Not only can it help lower your blood pressure, it can also help with hydration (despite the caffeine), and helps to reduce your stress. Mentally, a tea break provides some much needed “down time”, allowing for reflection and relaxation. My suggestion? Heat up a teakettle first thing in the morning and make it a part of your day on a regular basis. Here’s a bonus: When the water is heating, you’ll have time to complete and check off a couple of other habits on your list.
17. Shower Meditation – Est. Time: 10 Min.
For most of us, a shower is already a part of our morning routine. Showers, and other seemingly mindless tasks (like driving, washing dishes, and the like), allow your mind the freedom to wander, making it the perfect time for some meditation. Begin by following these steps: first, allow the warm water to wash over your body, imagining the stressful, worrisome, and anxiety ridden feelings as tangible; next, visualize the water and soap washing those feelings off; thirdly, envision all these wretched feelings – fears, anxiety, anger, frustration, etc., being washed away and swirling down the drain; and lastly, imagine that you are refreshed, clean, and prepared to start your day.
18. Take Deep Breaths – Est. Time: 5 Min.
Breathing deeply is a quick habit that takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Just follow these 9 steps: first, ensure that you won’t be interrupted by turning off your phone, laptop, or anything that might invade your peace of mind; second, choose a specific amount of time that you can use to practice deep breathing; third, set an alarm for the allotted time (for example, 3-5 minutes); fourth, find a comfortable place to sit (maybe on a pillow, your couch, or even your floor if you prefer; fifth, inhale slowly filling your lungs to their capacity; sixth, once your lungs are full, hold your breath for a full two seconds; seventh, slowly exhale, making sure that your breath is even and steady (try imagining that you’re exhaling all of your troubles out and away from your body); eight, take a couple seconds to pause, allowing yourself to revel in the feeling of release of your negative or stressful emotions; and lastly, return to step 5 performing the cycle until your alarm has sounded.
19. Watch a Short Video That Inspires You – Est. Time: 10 Min.
Like far too many things in life, motivation is fleeting. Transitioning from excitement to sadness can sometimes literally only take a matter of moments. One habit that you can incorporate into your day to “reset” your mood and your mind is watching an inspirational, or even funny, video. Some great places to look are Upworthy and YouTube; simply search for inspirational or funny videos and enjoy! I recommend limiting your time, though, as it’s easy to lose track of it; believe me, 5 minutes can all too easily turn into 5 hours.
20. Make a Delicious Smoothie – Est. Time: 3 Min.
If you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up, might I suggest a smoothie? Not only do smoothies taste well, smooth, but they’re also yummy, and they can help you get the nutrients and vitamins your body needs to run at its peak. Another awesome thing about smoothies is the plethora of ingredients you can use. Check out this site for tips and recipes, you’re sure to find a smoothie you’ll love.
21. Eat a Nutritious Breakfast– Est. Time: 5 Min.
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but did you know that the word “breakfast” literally comes from “breaking a fast”? Yep, eating after an extended period of time (say, while sleeping overnight), is you directly "breaking the fast" that your body has gone through during the downtime. Just remember when you’re breakfasting to make sure that you’re eating healthy foods. Some great suggestions are: fresh blueberries or raspberries (you can throw them into plain yogurt), a breakfast bar with protein, or simply topping off a high-fiber English muffin with an egg. Remember, keep your breakfast healthy, and don't be afraid add some variety to the menu.
The hardest part of starting a morning routine is actually starting a routine. But I know that you can do it!
*If you enjoyed this week's blog, check in next week to learn about more healthful habits to better your life. Thanks for reading!