7 Healthy Habits

The Holiday season can be a time of chaos, stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Most of us are running on not enough sleep, we are eating like teenagers (whatever is around) when we remember to eat at all, and basically doing anything and everything possible to slowly degrade our own physical and mental health only to try and do a complete 180 as soon as January hits. But why?

Why are we waiting for a designated day on the calendar to start taking better care of ourselves?

So, whether it is the middle of December, the first of January, or a random Tuesday in April, here are a few things you can do NOW to help take better care of yourself.

Ditch The Caffeine

While an extra cup of coffee was helpful for a quick influx of energy, the more cups I consumed, the worse the inevitable crash. It started to take a long term toll on my health.

I’m basically running on caffeine and stubbornness at this point. But as the days and my to-do lists got longer, my two cups a day was rapidly closing in on six. Eventually, I became a walking bag of sleep-deprived delirious jitters being held together at the seams (just barely) by my next fix. That was when I realized I needed to cut back.

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Simple things like switching to a smaller coffee mug in the morning, or ditching the travel mug in exchange for actually having to get up and get a fresh cup in the afternoon, can drastically reduce your overall caffeine intake. Avoiding sugary flavored coffee drinks is also a generally good idea, though for other reasons.

Drink More Water

Most likely, someone has been telling you this already. As a general rule, we rarely drink the amount of water we actually need.

Most people should be drinking about 2 liters (or a half-gallon) of water each and every day. Men a little more than women, and someone who is 6’8″ need more than someone who is 4’9″. But in general, a half-gallon is a good place to start.

The best advice I’ve ever gotten came from a 13 year old.

Get a new cup or travel mug, but like, one that you really really like, so that you’ll remember it and use it more often.

-R (age 13)

Bring a Snack

I am a firm believer that 9 out of 10 problems can be solved, or at least helped, with the addition of a snack. Don’t have time to meal prep? Don’t worry about it. No time to eat in between business meetings? We’ve got you covered. Screaming toddler? Well, I never said you had to eat the snack.

Whether it’s a Multigrain bar, granola, a piece of fresh fruit, a Ziploc of mixed nuts or pretzels, or just an assortment of whatever was in your fridge; veggies, cheese, deli meat, fruit, boiled egg.

The world is a much better and more easily manageable place with the addition of a snack.

Take Ten

Meditation is not for everyone. And while Yoga is great, taking the time for a one hour class isn’t always manageable.

So Take Ten.

Just ten minutes. Set a timer on your phone, start with twelve in the beginning as it will take you longer to relax the first time. In your office, at home, sitting in your car (a personal favorite). Take ten minutes, eyes closed, to just breathe. Think about all the things you’ve managed to get done already. Check-in with yourself. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Need to pee?

What can you check off your to-do list already? Which errands are you stressing out about that really aren’t that important? How do you really want to spend your time that day?

Times up. Open your eyes, turn off your timer, take a deep breath, and go conquer the world.

Blue Light = Bad

Blue Light, which is visible light with a wavelength between 350 and 500 nm, exists all around us. It’s why the sky looks blue, it comes from natural and unnatural sources, and, most notably, computer screens. This is a problem for a couple of reasons. First of all, the eye is not particularly good at blocking out blue or ultraviolet light, which can harm the cornea and cause eye problems after extensive exposure. Additionally, blue light activates certain parts of the brain which essentially tells your body ‘it’s time to be awake now’. This is why it can be so hard to wind down while using electronic screens.

I am by far one of the biggest culprits the world has ever seen. When stressed, I have a tendency to turn to my phone for ‘downtime’.

What started out as ten minutes of games or a casual scroll through Facebook, can easily become an hour or more of screen time. I don’t feel any more rested for it and usually have a headache.

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The Solution? Parental Control yourself.

No, I’m not kidding. These days everything from your smart phone to your laptop to most modern TV has a plethora of parental control options. Check your usage, see what’s sucking up your time, and put down healthy limits.

For me it was two things; social media, which I kind of need for work, and Merge Dragons, which is painfully addictive. I limited myself to two hours per day on total social media, but quickly learned I needed to exclude FB Pages from that ban (which is very easy to do) for work. Merge Dragons on the other hand… in once spent in one week on vacation a grand total of 17 HOURS playing that game. That’s another part time job! I cut myself down to one minute a day for 30 days, just to break myself of the habit. And now that I am (mostly) able to control myself, I have two hours per week.

Parental control are easy to set up and a great resource for breaking bad habits. Because sometimes, the person we need to parent is ourselves.

Plan Ahead

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Proverb

I used to HATE that expression. I thought it was pompous and arrogant and disingenuous… and I especially hated it because it was true.

I would spend hours each week working through my to-do lists, coming up with to-do lists, forgetting/losing those lists, and then having to come up with them all over again. But, beyond giving myself and anxiety headache, I never accomplished much other than actually making the lists. I knew what I needed to do, I just never put any thought into how I was going to do it.

This may sound like a simple step. And for most people, it is. But for me, there was a logical disconnect between knowing that I had to do something, and actually planning out how to do it. But once I did that, I found my to-do lists continuously shrinking rather than growing faster than I could handle.

  • Buy Milk – stop at the store on way home from work Thursday
  • Submit Sample Writing – use draft from ‘Mocking Bird’, edit & submit Friday
  • Christmas Presents – Stop at Super Target Saturday & Envy Sunday.

Once I laid it out so that I knew not just what I had to get done, but also when, how, and where I was going to do it, everything became that much more manageable.

Forgive Yourself

Too often we are ready to forgive others, but hold ourselves to such high standards that they are impossible to meet. We are only human. We are flawed, and we are fragile. We deserve the same kindness we would give to others. If you are struggling, or overwhelmed, or feel like you have failed in some way- please, I beg you, just take a moment, and forgive yourself.

If you’ve forgotten some important form or piece of paperwork – forgive yourself. If you’ve been working hard to eat healthily but fell off the bandwagon when someone brought in donuts – forgive yourself. If you said something careless to someone you care about and hurt them, even if you didn’t mean to – forgive yourself.

The world will keep on turning. We all will keep on trying. And tomorrow, we will try again. Flaws, failures and all.

So put a granola bar in your bag. Grab that cool $15 water bottle that you really liked but held back on. Put the phone down before bed. And give yourself a moment to breathe, be, and be happy.

Because I think you’re doing a darn good job of being a human being.


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