8 Life Changing Healthier Habits
It’s well known that “old habits” die hard. In all our efforts to improve daily habits to better our health, it is extremely easy for old habits to return, for past feelings and thought processes to creep back in that do not serve our body or mind good. How long will it really take you to make a new healthier habit? Well this can vary depending on the individual and the activity itself – but it is more than likely longer than the presumptuous 21 days. A study in 2009 found that it can actually take over 2 months – 66 days to be exact – to master a new habit before it comes automatic. For some it can even take up to 8 months!
Thus, don’t lose hope if you can’t master the perfect morning routine ritual as much as your friend that swears by it – we are all individual and these changes take time.
Personally, I have taken many steps to improve my daily habits over the last 4 years in an effort to improve my health in both mind and body. Numerous attempts failed, revisited & many habits were not what I thought them to be but led me to find ones which actually DO serve my health.
Here are 8 healthier habits that have changed my life for the better – that I recommended you try incorporate into your routine too. Even begin by choosing just 1 for the next 2 months.
Together all of these habits help towards daily stress management, that’s the ultimate area that most of us need to work on to improve our overall quality of life.
- Turning off all phone notifications
Every time your phone lights up & pings with a notification no matter how small or big, it will cause a response in your body. You don’t need to live at the beckoning call of your smartphone, you need to take control over your phone rather than let it take control over you.
On most smartphones, you need to go to settings, the notifications area and individually go into each app listed to turn them off. All I leave on is my phone calls, even my mindfulness app notifications were stressing me out! It’s the most mind freeing activity you could do for yourself today.
- Sleep Prioritising
Sleep is absolutely crucial for both physical and mental health. We are living in a world where it’s becoming acceptable to live in a sleep deficit in order to tick off the unrealistic daily to do lists. When I began to reverse this thought process and implement habits that were a little more strict around my bed time routine – my energy, productivity and mood improved dramatically. Getting a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep a day is crucial for optimal health.
It will help to regulate hunger, boost recovery & immunity, increase energy levels, workout strength, productivity & cognitive function. Some of my tops tips include having a screen cut off time, drinking a bed time tea, reducing stimulus & having a bedtime snack that supports sleep. Check out some great snack ideas here – my favourite is yogurt with berries, seeds & nut butter.
- Eating More Healthy Fats
Many of us have fallen into the trap of being “afraid” of fats or full fat foods at some point in our life. The media messages around fat intake can be so confusing. The need to cut fat out of our diets has been proven wrong yet it’s hard for the message to seep through to the general public. Our bodies need healthy fats to help brain function, hormonal balance, even lower cholesterol, and they are very satiating helping to keep you fuller for longer. Fats in your meal can help stabilise blood sugars, preventing highs and lows of energy which cause those pesky cravings & mood dips. For example adding whole fat milk to your oatmeal is a great idea to aid satiety, blood sugars, and ensure you are getting are absorbing the fat soluble vitamins in that meal. Full fat dairy can be an excellent source of healthy dietary fats.
- Ditching the Calorie Counter
Learning how to listen to my hunger intuitively gave me so much more freedom! Using calorie tracker apps can be a great exercise for short periods of time to help you understand the caloric count of your meals but it can take a lot of time to tot up your intake each day. It’s been shown that focusing on calories too much can actually cause you to restrict healthy foods & fats! My personal advice would be to gain awareness using an app in the short term if you are intrigued or for recipe creation. Try keeping a regular written food diary instead and each day tick the boxes for protein, whole grain carbs, healthy fats, dairy, fibre & colour (veg & fruit). A good place to start is with 3 meals & 2 snacks a day.
- Consuming less caffeine
It’s no secret that caffeine can heighten feelings of anxiety. My first port of call most morning is always my cup of coffee but I generally limit it to this, or a max of 2 cups if it’s early in the day. Did you know that caffeine takes a full 12 hours to fully leave your system? Even if you feel it doesn’t affect your sleep – studies show that it does affect the depth & quality of your sleep. Sleep quality is of utmost importance for recovery, mood & productivity so if you are a caffeine addict, considering joining me in a decaf cappuccino after 2pm! It may also help to reduce blood pressure for some.
- Self-care investment
Self-care looks different for everyone but if you neglect to allocate some time, and even finances, into a self-care routine or treat, your stress levels may just cascade leading you to a dangerous downward health spiral. My self-care habits used to be little to none. It took some time to realise they were crucial for my optimal mental & physical wellness. I try my best to make that time for myself and this may mean having at least 3 workouts in the week in the gym, eating plenty of whole foods, learning to say no to some tasks & jobs & spend some of my savings on the occasional treat like a hair or nail appointment.
- Realistic time block management
These last 2 points have been the most life changing for me. We live in a world where we are brainwashed into believing that each hour of every day must be productive. On the other hand, we seem to have never ending to-do lists that leave us stressed and confused as to where to begin. This year I began planning most of my days by time blocks the night previous on my phone notes. A daily schedule in which I realistically planned what I could achieve & within these hours also allocated time for self-care – such as blocking 2 hours to read, take a walk or a long bath.
- Social Media cleanse
The say that you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. With so many of us spending a lot of time on social media for work (that’s my excuse) or just out of habit – the same thought process may apply! Surround your social media self with positive vibes & messages, and don’t hesitate to mute or unfollow accounts that cause you to feel insecure or unhappy with where you are in life. You are doing just fine. Limiting screen time and making more memories should be on every ones list this Summer.