Some people build healthy habits that promote a higher sense of wellbeing daily while others lean towards lifestyle habits that take away from their overall wellbeing. Where do you fall in these categories?
Are you building and honouring healthy habits that boost your mental, emotional and physical health or have automatic bad habits taken over?
If you are looking to develop more happiness and greater health, maybe it's time to focus on the little habits in your life that have become so automatic, they likely go unnoticed for the most part.
The truth is, few realise it is the little things in life that we do on a day to day basis that are empowered to change us in a profound way. Most often, it's the smallest of changes that result in the largest of benefits, empowered to change our entire level of happiness or health.
Let's look at a few of these daily habits and how we can work to improve ourselves, and thus our health.
Nutritional habits - these are your food shopping habits
Purchasing the right foods is mandatory towards good mental and physical health. Your food habits impact every single element of your life – your risk for disease, your energy levels, your weight and self-confidence all get a boost with the right foods but take a real hit when you choose the wrong ones.
Developing conscious eating habits
Simple things like slowing down to eat. If you find you automatically start ploughing through your food without much thought, put your fork down in between bites to slow down the process.
Other important small habits that will help with conscious eating is to sit rather than stand when enjoying your meal and to avoid any distractions during meals (don't be reading, watching TV, looking at your cell phone, talking to your pets, or working on a computer). This allows you to focus on your food. When you do this, you'll even notice the taste and texture of the food you eat, and you will be much more aware of the amount of food eaten as well.
Be aware, the minute you remove your attention from the food you are eating, is the moment you reduce the psychologically satiety that comes with eating. That automatically puts you in danger of over-eating, which results in excess calories and weight gain.
Once your nutritional habits are in check, you need to focus on activity habits – those that will ensure you are staying fit, active and healthy. Exercise is not optional. It is a vital component towards improving your overall wellbeing and is something that must be incorporated into your life one way or another.
If you struggle with exercise motivation you can create a daily, weekly and monthly goals calendar. You can also take progress pictures on a bi-weekly basis. This allows you to see the small changes taking place, gives you direction and inspires you to keep on keeping on.
It also helps if you take note of how you feel after exercising. Notice your energy levels and mental clarity so that on days you just don't feel like exercising, you can draw upon this feeling and use it as a motivating factor to get going.
Lifestyle habits are many. Here are some of the main ones you should concern yourself with.
Believe it or not, but most adults are not getting the required amount of sleep that their bodies require. However, there are habits you can develop that will help you to sleep better.
Set regular bed and wake times, sleep in a cool room, use a stress journal (putting your thoughts on paper releases you from having to think about them for hours on end).
Electronic devices emit light that simulates the brains and makes it harder to fall asleep so make sure you turn off the TV and leave your smart phone and computer alone.
Snack wisely before bed. Eating heavily can cause you to wake due to heartburn or indigestion. Be sure to curb your caffeine consumption as well at least six hours prior (longer for some people) to retiring. And, be aware, it isn't just coffee that has caffeine in it.
People with high stress levels are prone to developing depression, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. To make matters even worse, stress can even pack on added body fat.
Stress is often the result of not honouring ourselves and our own needs and putting others in front. We must learn to delegate tasks to others and to say "no" when we feel "no" to others without feeling guilty. Our personal happiness should always be our number one concern. After all, how do we expect to make others happy if we do not own this feeling for ourselves?
The mind is a powerful tool. The most powerful tool we own. The more good habits we build, the better our chances of leading a healthy, happy life. We need to focus on positive thinking.
Affirmations are great confidence builders. Use them daily to reinforce the good about you and your life. It's time to embrace who you are, what you stand for and what you have to offer. Use your powers of visualisation. Close your eyes and picture in your mind the positive results you are after. Convince your mind of something and it soon becomes your reality.
Read more to expand your perspective. Reading also helps to build the tools and resources you need to use that help get you through the tough times in life.
Create a gratitude journal. Gratitude is the great attitude. Stop taking things for granted and realise how lucky you are to be alive and breathing, that you have a roof over your head and a meal to eat.
Spend 5-10 minutes a day focusing on what you are truly grateful for. Too often, what we take for granted each day others are praying for.
The most important thing towards shifting your life and your daily habits to healthier ones is to be patient with yourself as you go through the process.
Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to master more than one or two new habits at once. You need focused energy, not energy split in a hundred directions. Splitting your energy this way only dilutes its power.
Remember, there is only one you and no one is going to care for this "you" the way you do. You are responsible for your happiness and state of mind. If you don't like something about your life, it's time to change it. The real power begins by accepting responsibility for your position in life. This acceptance is what empowers you to change it.
• Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.