What easy healthy habits can I implement now that will have a positive impact on my life? Someone recently asked me to give them a list of easy to implement ideas that would have an impact on their health, success and improving their thought life. Here's what I came up with. There are so many good thing, honestly I could probably make a Top 100 list.
Top 12 easy to implement habits to change my life now:
1 Pray daily
I didn't make this up, my psychologist confirms that prayer has physical as well as psychological benefits. Prayer increases trust, builds self-control, makes you more forgiving of others, helps you cope and makes you an overall nicer person.
Often life doesn't go the way we expected or someone hurts us and we just don't know how to react. Anger, bitterness and grief can cause physical illness if not kept in check. Prayer helps us to deal with life and keeps stress levels lower. Research even shows that individuals who pray for others are less affected by stress.
People who suffer from chronic stress report that praying is beneficial for improving thought patterns.
2 Kick the sugar habit (at the very least, kick the soda habit)
When a person quits sugar the body changes quickly for the better. No one can deny that sugar consumption causes obesity and can lead to diabetes, but sugar intake actually ages you faster, too. When you quit consuming sugar your brain functions better. Giving up sugar means more energy (after the initial withdrawal period), better sleep, less acne, lower cholesterol, a healthier heart and overall improved appearance.
Empty calories from soda is the number one way that people consume sugar on a daily basis. Soda has been referred to as the “new tobacco” and for good reason. The soda industry definitely targets children in marketing, with 80% of schools in America having contracts with Coke or Pepsi. Soda is beyond a shadow of a doubt unhealthy and disease-causing. Soda has become the symbol for a “poor diet” in America.
While sodas are still the number one source of non nutritive calories kids consume on a daily basis, sports drinks are running a close second. Learn to read your labels! Many sports drinks are full of sugar and food colorings!
3 Drink Water consistently
Not surprisingly, dehydration can cause a myriad of problems including some most people wouldn't even make a connection with lack of adequate water consumption. For example, if you have mild dehydration you can become irritable and unable to focus. Often fatigue can be contributed to low intake of water. Some other unpleasant symptoms include muscle cramps, constipation, dry skin, dry mouth, headaches and migraines, hollow looking eyes and dull looking skin.
I used to have a really bad habit of “forgetting to drink water” just because I got so busy I wouldn't want to stop what I was doing to get up for a glass of water. Now I have a habit of drinking water when I do certain activities so the “trigger” of the activity helps me to remember. There are also plenty of apps to help you remember to drink water.
4 Start getting the sleep your body needs
When I counsel people on improving their health the number one complaint I hear is lack of sleep. Insomnia negatively affects an estimated 50% of the general population with just over 10% of those affected having chronic insomnia.
Getting a good night of sleep will help you rack up benefits like increased memory, creativity, attention span and focus, increased libido and life span. It also causes a decrease in inflammation, fat, dependence on stimulants, risk of accidents, risk of depression, slows down aging and improves memory plus LOTS MORE.
By the way, “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is not just a fun thing to say. There are researched benefits such as being healthier, getting better quality sleep, having a more optimistic outlook on life and being better at planning life in general.
That's because waking up early sets you up to be more proactive about your day and allows you to work more efficiently which leads to a higher likelihood of success. Success gives you a boost in endorphins which reduces our perception of bad feelings that pop up from daily stressors.
5 Eat protein throughout the day, especially for breakfast, preferably within 30 minutes of waking
Eating protein throughout the day not only keeps you full longer than other foods, it also decreases your cravings for empty carbs.
Eating a high carb breakfast is basically creating metabolic disasters all day. In turn these metabolic disasters create excess body fat and diseases related to obesity. While many experts have started to stress the need for more protein, they often forget to warn folks of eating too many carbs.
Eating protein improves performance. Research has shown that starting the day with high quality protein sources can even improve anxiety disorders.
Protein and the amino acids they provide are the primary building blocks of your muscles, bones, enzymes and many hormones. You simply cannot live without protein.
If you need to lose weight, this is essential as protein not only keeps the blood sugar levels on a steady even keel, but it also keeps you fuller longer as they take longer to leave the stomach.
Eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken, protein shakes, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds are all good sources of protein. I always add collagen powder to my coffee in the morning for a protein boost and often make protein poppers to go with it.
6 Floss daily
I guarantee your dentist asks you this question every time you go for a cleaning: “Have you been flossing regularly?” My dentist is always so happy when I say YES! While I believe most adults tend to brush their teeth at least once or twice per day, far fewer actually follow their dentists recommendation to floss daily.
Maybe if more dentists explained that it's not just about preventing cavities more people would actually take the two minutes it takes to floss daily. If you don't have two minutes then you are way too busy my friend.
Flossing not only keeps your teeth healthy it also helps to prevent heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illnesses according to the CDC. So get flossing those pearly whites!
7 Say “Thank you”, Say “I love you” and Say “no”
You heard me right. When you look someone in the eye and say “thank you” from a genuine place of gratitude it has a powerful impact. Saying thank you is more than just etiquette, they benefit your own sense of well-being, strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotions in both the thanker and the thankee and helps us cope better with stress. Just say thank you. Often.
Make it a point to let your loved ones know that you love them. It will literally change their life. Simply saying “I love you” to someone, whether it is your spouse, your parent, your siblings or your friends, makes you actually FEEL more loving towards that person.
When I leave for the gym before my kids wake up, I always leave them a note telling them I love them and I'll see them when I get home. Something about leaving without telling them I love them feels wrong.
Say no. What? Yes, you heard me right. When someone asks you to do something you are not interested in, say no. Know what you want, know where you're headed, and have the courage to say no when necessary.
8 Practice minimalism in at least a few areas of life
Have you ever noticed that most people have more possessions than they ever use? As a woman in my forties, my weight has been a bit of a challenge, but I never keep clothing of multiple sizes in my closet. If I gain or lose 10 pounds this year, the clothing that no longer fits me will not be hanging in my closet or packed away in a box waiting for me to change sizes again.
I realized a few years ago that having clothes that no longer fit me hanging in my closet actually have a negative impact on my mood on a daily basis. I either sell, give away to a friend or donate to a women's ministry in town.
Reducing the amount of clutter in your home and life really does create a positive energy. I realized this when I started releasing items that I was holding on to for future use. Basically, if your “stuff” doesn't add value to your life then it is keeping you from living a more meaningful life.
Practicing minimalism in at least a few areas of life helps you to put create room for what is really important, give you freedom from materialism, debt and overworking to gain more “stuff” in life. It also helps free your mind to focus on your health when you aren't constantly bombarded with stuff and where to put the stuff and how to get the stuff cheaper…
When you declutter your life happiness will come more naturally. Make it a point to only hold on to things that bring you real joy.
9 Learn to apologize and practice the art
Mistakes are a part of life. If you have kids, you'll definitely make more mistakes than you care to admit on a daily basis. It's important not to get into a habit of shifting blame onto others around us but to genuinely own up to our mistakes.
A major cause of anger, bitterness and stress comes from NOT apologizing when we should. Be the bigger person, admit your mistake, apologize (seek forgiveness) and move on.
Practice the art of apologizing. Acknowledge your offense and/or explain what happened if necessary. Never use the words “if” or “but” when apologizing to someone as these words basically just negate the apology by assigning blame somewhere other than your own shoulders. This TRULY takes practice. Just listen to yourself the next time you start to think about apologizing.
Keep your apology simple, no need to over explain or give excuses. Express your desire to “seek” forgiveness and then allow the other person to absorb. Don't expect an answer right away, don't demand forgiveness.
Ok, maybe this isn't one of the easy healthy habits but it's easier than holding a grudge forever!
10 Rethink the way you use your smart phone
Instead of grabbing your phone right when you wake up, try launching your morning routine right away instead. When you give the first part of your day to other people you are basically living life on someone else's terms. I'd rather give God the first moments of my day, followed by some things that will help me to be the best ME I can be for those around me.
What does that look like? Maybe you like to run or do stretching, maybe you prefer meditation or journaling. Whatever makes you tick, do that.
When I wake up the first thing I do is greet God and thank Him for another day, then I think about what my plans are for the day. I usually get up and get my gym clothes on, grab my coffee & a bottle of water and head to the gym. I listen to podcasts on my way to the gym and usually while I am working out. By the time I head home, I feel like I have my head on straight and I'm ready to tackle my day.
On the flip-side, on those rare times when I wake up and scroll through social media, check email and browse news I feel a shadow of stress and overwhelming feelings before I even get started on my day and then I feel like I don't even know where to start. It's just a bad way to start your day.
On the same note, consider turning off your cell phone for designated periods of time throughout the day and have at least half a day each week “screen free” meaning no phone, tv, or any electronic devices. A lot of families implement the “no screens at the dinner table” rule. It's a great habit to choose to go screen free for at least half a day per week.
Try starting with Sunday afternoon, with one hour.. .then increase it until you have achieved your goal of either half a day or an entire day without using your devices. There are so many things you can do like hiking, board games, or even reading a book that you hold in your hands!! Try it!
If you're a parent with children still at home use this time to really connect with them and allow them to have your undivided attention. It takes some getting used to but the benefits are worth the awkwardness. Trust me.
11 Ditch mainstream media
I grew up terrified of dying hiding under my school desk because the Russians might bomb my school while I was practicing cursive in Mrs. Cannon's class. My parents watched the news all morning long and all evening too. It was always the same (bad) news over and over and it caused me to live in a state of fear.
When I moved out I stopped feeding my mind with the dribble that is mainstream media. I still know what's going on in the world. I just get it from a more balanced source.
Mainstream media has an agenda to keep you watching their fear mongering morning, noon and night. If you want to have a balanced emotional state, turn off your tv news and do your own research. Manipulation, exploitation and greed is what drives mainstream media which is owned by just a few corporations set on freaking you out and keeping you glued to your set to feed your fears even more.
Find another source of news outside of mainstream media which basically has a goal of distorting information and telling lies and have your eyes opened to the wonderful world we live in.
12 Feed your mind with beneficial information
If you want your personal growth to skyrocket, subscribe to some great podcasts.
Whatever your specific interest is, whenever you want to listen, you can really gain some serious knowledge about almost anything by listening to podcasts. Podcasts are literally out there on almost any topic you can think of. Are you interested in pot belly pigs; it's out there.
Whatever your passion is, find some podcasts and grow your mind! Because podcasts are basically “on-demand” radio, you can tune in whenever you have the time. I love listening to podcasts while I am working out, doing the dishes, vacuuming, driving across town! I'll use any opportunity available to tune in to my favorite podcasts.
It's also a great way to connect with your friends or co-workers who have the same interests because you can simply share the podcast with them and they can listen to it! I wonder if there are any Podcast Clubs… maybe something I need to do! Most smart phones have a built-in podcast app but you can also listen on your computer.
The reason I like podcasts so much is because I love learning. I want my kids to love learning. There are podcasts that are stories and comedy podcasts, etc. I'm telling you, whatever your cup of tea is, there's a podcast for that. Maybe I'll post a list of my Top 10 favorite podcasts!
What easy healthy habits would you add to this list? Like I said, I could think of 100 habits, but that might be overwhelming. I felt like this list was a pretty doable list. Leave your own suggestions in the comments below!