Make your life easier and better by developing healthy habits. On this short habit list you’ll find seven things to do every day for a healthy and happy life!
Pretty much since the start of 2020 I’ve been coughing and sitting here at home feeling sorry for myself. It’s been almost a week now and I haven’t had human interaction in person other than with the ladies at the grocery store. And all they say to me is “go away”. Probably because I look insane and possibly smell pretty bad, even though I’m still taking showers. Can’t promise I’ll keep it up for the rest of 2020.
Now let’s visualize that tomorrow is a new day, we all clean up and become healthier and happier and we keep it up for the rest of the year. That’s something that can keep me motivated for a little bit. After some research, I found out there are seven healthy habits that are the most important in the world. Obviously. So I want to share them with you today and I hope this inspires you to make some positive changes in your life too!
7 Healthy Habits To Do Every Day
Habit #1: Savor
The habit of savoring is linked to improved well-being, resilience and reduced levels of depression (source). Savoring is noticing positive things in your life when they happen and being aware of those positive feelings.
I noticed a change in my behavior during the last maybe 2 years and I’m working on changing it back, because I don’t like where this is going. I observed that I almost never take time to appreciate when I’m really enjoying something. I don’t make the effort to extend it. Like if I’m sitting at a pool with my friends, laughing, beautiful weather – I’m okay for like 5 minutes and then I have the urgency to get up and start doing things, even when there’s nothing to do. Even if those things aren’t productive or fun – like looking up something on my phone.
When I go on my daily walks I kinda noticed I’m doing it more because I want to get 10,000 steps in and not because the sun is out and it’s basically beautiful outside and I feel so good and so free. It seems like I’ve forgotten what it is to savor, to take time and appreciate the moment for what it is. Kinda stop time for a little bit and take a mental picture. I used to be so good at this all my life, now I’m always on to the next one like Jay Z. And I don’t like it.
Turns out it’s an unhealthy habit too. Because it always makes you want more and creates this stress and urgency inside that is neither healthy, nor productive.
This can relate to food, exercise, body image – to me obviously it’s something with staying busy, which sucks. But it can lead to overeating, overexercising, overworking and so on – you get the point. We need to start savoring and appreciating the good things happening to us at that moment. If you’re sitting there eating a delicious pizza, be fully content with the fact that you’re not eating a kale salad, but actual pizza and that it’s delicious and you’re not hurting anyone by enjoying it and making a note of that.
Habit #2: Move
A well-hidden secret here: movement, any type of it, is beneficial for your cardiovascular, brain, bone, mental and systemic health. It is the single, most important habit that helped our brains evolve over time.
According to this literature review:
“Clinical evidence has demonstrated that exercise has a positive relationship with the outcome of different mental diseases, such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, improving not only patients’ quality of life but the disease itself.”
When you think about it, this is huge. The reason why exercise is the one habit that everyone can’t seem to stop talking about (no matter how fit that person looks) is because it’s that effective. It has immediate effects.
You just have to commit to doing it daily and find the right one for you. Maybe one day you go to a class, go to the gym, another day you do yoga at home, maybe most days you just go for those 10,000 steps while savoring your time spent outside.
Exercise is the one thing that we’ve increasingly stopped doing over the centuries. We’ve got cars, we’ve got planes, we’ve got grocery stores and we’ve got computers. Those weren’t there about 200 years ago. Today there’s no need to go and walk. We don’t even need to go outside. But moving is in our nature, it’s what formed us.
Habit #3. Cook
Cooking is one of those habits I never think about, but I’m super grateful for in my life. I had to start cooking for myself when I was a teenager – my mom was never at home and the only way I could eat something different than pizza was if I made it myself.
This hobby continued throughout my twenties and is really like second nature to me now. Not only does cooking help me eat healthier and challenges me to be creative, but it’s also helping me release some stress every day and it connects me to others. Obviously, I share many recipes here on this blog, but also in person. There’s nothing like sharing a meal with your family and friends and letting them tell you how good it was or you know “it’s fine”. Or blugh.
When you cook, you have the chance to design something the way you really want it. And because you need to eat every day, you get to practice every day and become great at it. You get to be the maker “behind the scenes”.
Habit #4: Cultivate Positivity
Becoming a more positive person will improve your life in many ways, one of them is by improving your health. The ability to stay positive and to find pleasure in life is linked to better immune function, cardiovascular health, decreased pain and lower mortality risk (source).
Much like savoring, cultivating positivity is about being aware and getting excited when something positive happens, happened or will happen in your life. It’s about not playing it down and always trying to see the good in any situation.
Some ways to cultivate positivity:
- practice gratitude – this can be by writing down your wins for the day, week and month. I think by now we’ve all heard about how gratitude can change our lives and I think it’s time to stop talking about it and to embrace it as a weekly practice. You can do this by writing thank you notes, keeping a gratitude journal, counting blessings or praying. If you want to read more about the research on gratitude check out this article by Harvard Health Publishing.
- intentionally switch your thinking. We often automatically think about the negative things. Sometimes this can get out of control leading to anxiety and depression. So whenever those negative thoughts come up, notice them, say “this is not real” and switch that thought. Start reminding yourself of moments that made you feel really happy. Or start imagining things that you actually want that will make you feel joy and excitement and start feeling those feelings as you imagine. You’ll need to practice this over and over and over again, but at some point it will become a habit.
- seek solutions, not problems. if you’re always coming up with excuses for why you’re not able to do something you want, start thinking about solutions. Instead of saying “I can’t lose weight, because I don’t have time to cook.”, start looking for ways to 1) find time to cook healthy meals 2) other ways to lose weight that you can integrate into your lifestyle (like walking more, taking standing breaks from sitting, intermittent fasting, drinking more water) and start being intentional about those things. Because who knows – they’ve worked for many others, they might just work for you too – you simply need to try for a long enough period of time.
Habit #5: Nourish Good Relationships, Starve Bad Ones
Good relationships help us cope better with everyday stress and as part of a community keep us accountable to basically take care of ourselves. This results in better mental health and cardiovascular health. (source)
A meta-analysis of over 148 studies from 2010 found “a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships”. They found that the influence of social relationships on mortality risk and health outcomes was comparable to smoking and alcohol consumption. It was greater than the influence of physical exercise and obesity.
So we need to put in the effort. Every day, make time to maintain, build and improve relationships with your friends, family, coworkers, and complete strangers! Give those potential psychopaths a chance – you might win a friend for life. Yes, it’s easy to stay connected to others 24/7. Even to people you absolutely don’t know. But while we stay connected online, we keep isolating ourselves more and more.
I just remember when my grandma needed something, she went to her neighbor to ask for it and they’d talk for like 10-20 minutes every day. They weren’t best friends, but they’d be there for each other. And she had so many other relationships like that everyone knew everyone in that village and nobody was left out.
When I need something – I go to the store. Many people order online. More and more of us work remotely. Even if we don’t…I remember working at an agency and the communication happened through Outlook or whatever software there was and people would look at me like a weirdo when I show up next to them and want to talk in person. Same when I was working at a laboratory – everyone with their best friend – the computer. Human connection and spontaneity are somehow going away. People eat lunches at their desks looking at their phones and you better not “waste” their precious time on this planet with a conversation, because time is not only money, but it’s their life.
We’re torn between working as a community and trying to be the best by competing with each other and comparing ourselves. But being social and working together is in our nature. And as I mentioned – it might be more important for your health than your 1-hour session at the gym.
What About Unhappy Relationships?
On the other hand, you need to avoid or to work on improving bad relationships because they can really mess up your health. And not just mental health your physical health as well.
Research has shown that couples who are unhappily married or who have fights often also show signs of increased systemic inflammation and delayed wound healing – which is an essential process for good health.
A very interesting study compared the healing of blister wounds for couples in good relationships and couples in bad relationships after a fight. The wounds of the bad relationship couples healed slower – at 60% the rate of the good relationship couples. Yes, their wounds took almost twice as long to heal! (See research here). Which is insane, because wound healing is at the base of good health, it’s crucial to stay alive.
People in unhappy relationships also have on average higher blood pressure (risk is increased 3-fold) and a 25-times higher risk for major depression than people in happy relationships. (source)
Habit #6: Give Yourself Space
Take time off! Sometimes I find a little scalp massage is the way to go, other days I wonder why I don’t sleep more. Allow your mind, your body, your soul and your scalp to recover! As great as social relationships are take your time and just be. Throw that phone away (and be dramatic about it!) and do something fun or don’t do anything at all. Read a book, dream, look at old photos, call a friend… Relax your mind and your body, give yourself space. There’s plenty of time to learn, to do, to create and to watch.
Habit #7: Be Kind!
Be a kind human! Kindness will open more doors for you than you could ever imagine. Being genuinely kind to others, and ourselves, makes us feel good and warm inside and it’s good for our health too. Much like gratitude, kindness will help you feel more connected, optimistic and it will reduce levels of anxiety, especially social anxiety. (source)
So when you wake up tomorrow and start feeling like you don’t want to face the world and everyone’s in your way, you start feeling guilty and get really impatient – remind yourself – there’s always room and time to be kind. Studies show you don’t need to be kind to others ALL THE TIME but to stay healthy and happy you need to do at least 3 acts of kindness per week (source).
Well, if you’ve made it this far – 1. Thank you for coming here and for your time and attention – I really appreciate it! and 2. As I mentioned earlier, I hope these inspired you to take action today and to be more intentional about the way you live your life, it really makes a difference!