As the world is progressing—with long working hours and businesses moving online, it is becoming difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, now more than ever, people need to put an extra focus on their quality of life because of the nature of our jobs.
Improving your quality of life is not a one-day job; it takes months and sometimes even years. But, big changes happen by taking baby steps. So, here is a list of 5 habits you can include in your lifestyle as the first baby step toward a better life:
Get Proper Sleep
Sleep is the first thing that gets affected when you are going through any problem in your life, which in turn creates more problems. Even a lack of sleep for one day can affect how we function the next day. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide range of chronic diseases like diabetes.
According to Dr. Andrew E. Budson, lack of sleep, especially in midlife, can cause dementia in old age. It is because lack of sleep can lead to an increase in the toxic protein in the brain called beta-amyloid. It is a protein that groups together to form Alzheimer’s plaque. While you are sleeping, your brain flushes out this toxic protein from your brain. Hence, it is necessary that you build good sleep habits.
A good night’s sleep also increases concentration and memory, which is why students should get proper sleep before an important exam. Studies also show the importance of sleep for athletic performance and recovery. Coaches and athletes should focus on sleep quality and quantity for improved performance, not just on exercise and diet.
(Sleeping Woman; Photo by Polina Kovaleva, Source)
Be More Active
From fighting off diseases to making you feel good, moving your body is beneficial for you both—physically and mentally. You don’t need to go to a gym and lift heavy weights. Just walking and moving your body in ways you like is proven to be beneficial.
Dancing, swimming, hiking or playing a sport are activities that can improve your overall health. Physical movement helps you lose weight, maintain heart health, and contribute to skin and hair health.
Exercise not only has an impact on your physical health but also on your mental health. When you move your body, it releases a hormone called Serotonin, which is also referred to as the feel-good hormone. This is why people who have depression or anxiety are advised to include any physical activity in their lifestyle.
(Swimming; Photo by Kindel Media, Source)
Social Media Breaks
How many times have you caught yourself in a never-ending loop of social media feed, only to come out as more insecure, frustrated and unhappy?
In the last few years, the number of social media users has grown exponentially.
Technology, on one hand, brings people together, it has never been easier to stay in contact with people than now, but on the flip side, social media tends to create a faulty narrative about how life is supposed to be. You constantly compare your life with others.
With more and more businesses moving online, it is not possible to completely cut off from all social media channels. However, it is important to cut down on the number of hours by setting time limits, turning off unnecessary notifications and putting your phone during meal times. You can also take a social media break 1-2 days every week.
(A girl using Instagram; Photo by Erik Mclean, Source)
People are either living in the past and regretting their mistakes or thinking and worrying about their future. In doing so, you forget to live and enjoy the present. With the ever-growing to-do list, multitasking for most of us has become non-negotiable. This is why attention and concentration are becoming unachievable.
Practising mindfulness is difficult but can help you reach heights in whatever you wish to achieve. While sitting down for meals, switch off all the devices and be mindful of the food you eat. Enjoy and savour the taste, smell and texture. Be aware of what your body tells you and eat accordingly.
Some ways you can practice mindfulness are—being aware of what you speak, taking time for conscious breathing, concentrating on muscle movements when exercising, and identifying your bad habits and what triggers them.
Mindfulness helps you improve your attention and memory. It makes you calm and makes you feel closer to yourself than ever before.
If you are just starting, be a little patient with yourself. Mindfulness is a skill that you can’t master in a day. Keep doing it even if you mess up in between, and don’t give up.
(A monk meditating; Photo by truthseeker08, Source)
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. The phrase: You are what you eat, is not wrong. Your skin, hair, body and overall health expose the quality of your diet. The word diet doesn’t mean trying extreme diets where you eat only fruit one day and vegetables the next. The word diet here means a sustainable way of eating that you can follow for years.
A well-balanced and healthy diet helps in regulating and treating diseases but also preventing them. Food also helps to make your immune system stronger. There are many shreds of evidence that suggest the role of healthy eating in the prevention of Alzheimer's. There is no treatment available for Alzheimer’s yet. However, research shows that this disease can be prevented if measures are taken early in life. A diet rich in saturated fats can promote dementia, whereas a diet rich in antioxidants, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to minimize the development.
A healthy diet includes more whole foods and less ultra-processed foods. Just like everything else, it is not one size fits all. You need to figure out what works for you and your body and what makes you feel good mentally and physically.
(Veggie Salad; Photo by Ella Olsson, Source)
How To Build Habits
Experts say it takes 21 days for a person to build a new habit. While this can be true for some people but not for everyone. It might take you 1 month or 1 year to build a habit. It depends on you and also on what habit you are trying to build because some habits can be easier to form than others. For example: A habit of making your bed every morning will be easier to form than going to the gym 5 times a week.
Here are some tips you can use to build habits:
Trying to build 6 habits within a month sounds good but is not realistic. So, start small. Take up 1 new habit and commit to it till the time you become comfortable with it and add the next habit.
Keep stacking up new habits when you become comfortable with the previous ones. But, also make sure to lose the previous ones in the process of adding more.
Don’t break the chain
Maybe you couldn’t get a night of proper sleep because you slept late or you couldn’t exercise for a week because you were on holiday. It is ok to take a break sometimes when necessary.
But don’t fall back into your bad habits because of one slipup. Instantly get back into your routine because habits will only stick if you do them consistently. Discard the all-or-nothing mentality and get on track immediately.
Design the environment
You can’t become a healthier person if you only have unhealthy sugary snacks in your house because when you get hungry those are the only things you will reach to. Your environment plays an important role in habit formation.
Whatever habit you are trying to build, make sure to align your environment to it. If you want to start journaling every day, keep your journal diary on your desk so that you don’t forget about it. If you want to develop a habit of reading every night, keep a book at your bedside table to serve as a reminder.
We have given you 5 habits that you can include in your lifestyle to live a healthier and happier life, but this list is not exhaustive. You can replace these with any other healthy habit you want to build. You can use the tips on habit building while forming them.
Stack up good habits and replace them with the bad ones. Keep in mind to go slow and not overwhelm your brain and body because that will eventually backfire.
We wish you good luck on this journey of building a healthy lifestyle.