Who has time for a routine when you have a world of opportunity at your fingertips? Your favorite apps let you know where that new band is playing, when a hot new restaurant is doing an opening night promotion, or which cute singles around you are up for a drink. Before you know it, you’re caught up in an intoxicating rush of new exciting events and experiences, and no day is the same as the last.
The chaos can come at a hefty cost, though. Rubbing stamps off the back of your hand 20 minutes before you clock in to work can become stressful, and Groupon trips to Cancun might not drain your wallet, but can certainly drain you physically. When the anxiety of living an unstructured life starts to become overwhelming, it can make a world of difference to incorporate some very simple habits into your everyday life.
Stick to a sleep schedule
No one is debating the fact that it’s much easier to tuck into bed on a Monday night than it is on Friday evening. It’s equally undeniable that the allure of a warm bed and no obligations makes waking up on Sunday morning a much more unappealing task than Wednesday morning before work. That being said, adhering to a regular sleeping schedule can be one of the healthiest things you can do for both mind and body.
Your body runs on anticipation! Allowing your daily rhythms to sync up with your schedule creates the best possible scenario for your body to get the recovery and rejuvenation that it needs, and can even help with daily routines such as digestion. Just being “in bed by 10” doesn’t cut it, though. The important part is to actually be asleep around the same time each night. This means no scrolling through Instagram for an hour and half before hitting the sack. Your bed should be an environment immediately associated with sleep.
So turn off the TV, find a pillow that helps you stay asleep, and ensure the temperature of your bedroom is just right (experts claim that having your room a bit colder than you’d like it while awake allows for a deeper sleep by preventing overheating throughout the night).
Does a treadmill make you feel sweaty simply by looking at it? Are you more likely to associate the terms “rep” and “set” with lyrics from your favorite rap song than physical fitness? Do you get more use out of a dumbbell as a doorstop than as fitness tool? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be long overdue for another look at of your fitness routine.
I get it, hitting the gym can be rather discouraging at first. You don’t know which machine does what, every lift you try feels awkward, and you’re pretty sure those “gym bros” are laughing at you watching an instructional video on “How to do a Pushup”. The learning curve of physical fitness is a small one though! A couple weeks into your routine and you’ll start to feel right at home. A couple months into your routine and you’ll start to notice some changes in your physique. Now, on top of the positive chemical responses that exercise has on your brain, you’ll be adding boosted confidence as well, thanks to that slimmer waist or toned core.
Oh, and the occasional “did you start working out?” from friends and coworkers won’t hurt your general mood and well-being either.
Stay adequately hydrated
It goes without saying that proper hydration is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Considering we’re essentially just skin-colored ziplock bags of over 65% liquid, our bodies need a lot more water than we think. The World Health Organization estimates that you should be drinking an average of 8 to 15 cups of water a day, and a couple Dixie cups around the watercooler at noon isn’t going to cut it.
This is such a simple habit that you’ll hardly even notice yourself doing it once you get into the swing of things. Adding a water bottle or hydroflask to your everyday carry will ensure you’re never at risk of dehydration, and also eliminates you having to rely on that rusty water fountain at the park. You know, that same one you see people letting their dogs drink from?
Staying properly hydrated will have an almost immediately noticeable effect as well. You’ll feel more awake, alert, and less fatigued throughout the day. Not to mention the fact that water boosts your metabolism and helps you burn fat faster. Now those abs from your gym routine are really coming in!
Daily goal setting
As the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, you swore into your 6th glass of champagne that this would be the year you get that promotion. While it may be three years later and you’re still stuck in middle management, you’re remaining steadfast in striving towards that achievement. Major goals like this are extremely important in building the foundation of your life, but equally important (and often forgotten) are the minor goals.
Setting minor, daily goals will leave you with a healthy sense of accomplishment, and may even help you tackle major goals as well. The first thing you need to do is eliminate the connotation between a goal and a chore. Sure, you can have a daily goal to take 2 sets of stairs instead of escalators, but you can also aim to achieve things that you enjoy! Challenge yourself to knock out an extra chapter of that book you’re reading, set a goal to cook a fun new dish each night, or even aim to catch up with a friend whom you’ve been slowly drifting from during your lunch break.
Developing and achieving these daily goals will help you stay motivated and positive between your major goals. This not only builds an environment in which you challenge yourself, but will keep your mood and mindset elevated throughout the day.
Develop a healthier diet
As the adage goes: “The body begins in the kitchen, and ends in the gym.” Setting and sticking to a healthier diet can oftentimes be even more difficult to maintain than a workout routine. It is undeniably one of the most crucial components of your daily life, though, so finding a way to make the process more enjoyable can be worth its weight (or lack thereof) in gold.
Parting ways with your favorite snack or comfort food can be heartbreaking, but consider this a new opportunity to explore other foods you would have previously been unaware of! Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up an even bigger fan of edamame hummus than you ever were of Flaming Hot Cheetos. This is an opportunity to treat your body better while learning more about yourself. Perhaps finding a replacement for your microwaveable chicken pot pie will expose you to a grilled salmon recipe that absolutely changes your life.
Cutting out junk food, sugars, and excess fats can be made easier by meal prepping as well. You’re much less likely to grab fast food for lunch when you have an even faster (and cheaper) meal sitting in the fridge, already made. True, eating the same thing for a week straight can start to wear you down, but alternating meals throughout the week can eliminate most of that dreaded monotony.
While some of these daily habits may be easier to maintain than others, all of them will have major improvements on your general well-being, allowing you to feel less stress and strain when you do choose to live a little spontaneously. The hustle and grind of daily life can leave you feeling spread too thin, and your daily habits will help counteract these stressors by building a foundation for your day.
Always keep in mind, a temporary slip or lapse in one of your habits doesn’t mean you’ve ruined all progress made previously. No one is perfect. Jump right back on that horse and see a better self, one that you built through habits and routines, which you can be proud of.