Habits that will Significantly Improve Your Mental & Physical Health
Let’s face it, we could all do better. But, finding balance in life is one of those things that can sometimes feel so overwhelming that we just keep doing what we’re doing — even when we KNOW it’s not making us feel good.
Quarantine was the time to try things. I, knowing what I want my life to feel and look like, jumped into trying new things, executing plans, and forming new habits. I noticed that everything you do (and say) to and for yourself and others has this interconnectedness that affects our emotional, mental, and physical health. So, if you have bad habits, it’s time to shift.
There were 9 things that I very intentionally and consciously started doing that quickly impacted the way I felt. And if they work for me, they’ll work for others. These habits will significantly improve your mental and physical health.
- Reading for 30 Minutes a Day
Reading is good for your brain. Period. But how often do you make the time to sit down and read? It’s definitely a form of self-care to turn off and do something that is good for you. And guess what? We all have more time than we think we do…. maybe if we weren’t zombie scrolling through social media in our down time we would be happier, smarter, and more accomplished humans.
I love a good book and I was definitely one of those people who constantly thought “I wish I had more time to just f*ck off and read a book”. Well, I do. You do too. I scheduled time at the end of my day to read for 30 minutes. I even set a freakin’ timer. If I wanted to read for longer, I would, but never for less.
I found that I was more relaxed, and when reading was close to bedtime, I slept more soundly. I forgot how nice it was to get lost in a good book and not care what Kim Kardashian was doing on instagram. (You know you’re guilty AF, too. Don’t even play.)
I’m the type of person that loves knowledge and wants to learn everything they can in life. I tend to read novels on science, psychology, and biographies, but I do enjoy some fiction every so often. And I plan on keeping up this habit because it feels AMAZING to not be staring at a social media app.
Here’s what’s currently being read and on deck in my house:
2. Prepping for the Next Day
Such a small thing, such a huge impact. Buy a programmable coffee pot and set it to brew 30 minutes before your alarm goes off. CHECK. Create a menu, make a shopping list and prep your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Monday – Friday. CHECK. Make your to-do list for the next day before you go to bed. CHECK.
Having a plan — even if it’s just coffee, food, and knowing what you need to do takes so much angst out of your day. If you want to lay out clothes for the next day, do it! Any little pre-prep that takes the guesswork out, helps you conquer the day with more ease.
We’re all busy. We have jobs, kids, romantic relationships, friends (and don’t forget making time for yourself) that we have to juggle. I KNOW at the end of the day, the last thing we want to do is more “work” sometimes, but pushing through to prep the coffee, fill water bottles, pick out clothes — whatever it is — eases feelings of anxiety, worry, “not enough time in the day” mindset. If the mind is taken care of, it won’t manifest its stress in the body.
It’s an awkward task at first to sit down and write down how you’re feeling or the things you want. Journaling is a way to have a conversation with yourself. And when you get good at it, it becomes second nature. That stream of consciousness writing feels sexy. It’s also cheaper than a therapist. GET. IT. OUT.
Journaling is an every day practice for me. I create gratitude lists. I affirm myself. And, a big one… I write down my intentions (wants, needs, goals, etc.)
I believe that to live a truly positive life you have to know yourself. You have to give space for the little voice in your head and heart — that’s your soul wanting to come through. If you want to feel like you’re in alignment and achieve higher consciousness, it starts inside you with the whispers of your soul. It’s all very ‘hippie f*cking dippie’ but it’s true.
Journaling allows you to see patterns in your thoughts and behaviors – good and bad. This will allow you to pivot, shift, and change direction where needed. Cue: Level Up by Ciara
4. Art Therapy
Remember when adult coloring books became all the rage? Well, they still should be. I color almost every day. I color to ease into my day. I color to ease out of my day. I color when I’m anxious. I color when I need to wake the creative muses up. It’s so mindless but also so fun and beautiful. It’s so important to me that I included coloring pages in my Manifest Magic 2021 Day Planner & Life Designer.
Another great artistic therapy is pottery painting. I went through a terrible break up a couple years ago and went to a Color Me Mine with one of my best gal pals. They’re BYOB, so we got tanked on white wine while painting mugs. It definitely made me feel better.
Whichever art medium you choose, have fun with it. Let that inner child come out to play.
I will admit, I have a hard time just sitting down and letting my spirit just float out into the cosmos. I do much better with guided meditation. However, when done consistently, meditation helps you release mental and physical tension that gets caught in the body. When you bring conscious awareness to your breath, the world around you falls away and you mind quiets. Meditation is a nice way of telling your brain to STFU.
You don’t have to sit legs crossed with your hands on your knees. You can lay down. You can fold over into child’s pose. Whatever feels the most comfortable. Soft music, no music, lights on, lights off… there is no right or wrong way. Just slow down, tune out, and connect to source.
Alternatively, you can do a moving meditation. Keeping your eyes closed and focused on your breath, you can gently move fluidly, however you’re called to. This will also help move energy that may be stuck in the body. It works just as well as traditional meditation.
Meditation – with focus on breath – has helped pull me out of anxiety, panic attacks, and feeling sick to my stomach. It really is all about MIND OVER MATTER.
6. Move Your Body
We all know working out is good for the body and the brain. Movement helps us function and keeps us functioning. You don’t have to go crazy in the gym. Working out just 30 minutes a day is really all you need. Doing something you enjoy will keep you consistent. This is just another 30 minutes out of 24 hours that needs to be scheduled somewhere into your day. You can do it.
One form of movement that I love is dance. I’m talking about in my underwear, swirling my hips to R&B in my kitchen. Eyes closed. Candles lit. Just vibing. Shaking my ass for however long my body feels like it. Touching up on myself. I do this EVERY DAY. It’s also one of those things that feels awkward at first, but dance like no one is watching — because if you live alone, no one is. Get out of your head and into your body. If you’re a woman, this drops you right into your divine feminine energy. You want to be there. Trust me.
7. Pamper Yourself
When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you look good. That’s what I mean when I say “interconnectedness”. Allowing yourself self-care that is centered around beauty/grooming is necessary. I found this out in quarantine after being in joggers and bunny slippers for far too long.
You’re allowed to look good and feel good about it. Take time for the bubble baths, full glam, blowouts, and perfectly curated outfits. This all very positively affects our mental health.
Whatever pampering you choose, make it a routine. Something you can look forward to. Bubble bath Tuesday. Facial friday. Show yourself that you care and that you are worth it.
8. Actually DO Your Hobbies
You NEED activities that have nothing to do with your job or home life. You know all of those hobbies that you have but never do? F*cking make time for them. I am most consistently happy when I’m consistently doing the activities I love to do: hiking, beaching, wine tasting, etc.
The issue is, we put ourselves in a box. I go to work. I come home. I do chores. I go to work. I come home. RINSE LATHER REPEAT until we die and we wonder why humans are so miserable. Grab your binoculars and go bird watching. Start assembling that ship in a bottle. Go play poker with the old ladies down the street. Make time for your hobbies — that’s where life is.
Life is not in your job or the walls of your home. Life is in your enjoyment of the activities you love. Do them, do them often, and be consistent.
9. Drink More F*cking Water
Yea yea… we all know 8 glasses a day and all the jazz, but have you ever done it and were conscious of the changes that were occuring in your body? I was probably drinking an average of 4 glasses a day and some teas. I knew it wasn’t the recommended amount, but I didn’t think that more would make THAT MUCH of a difference, but in the spirit of trying things, I picked up 1/2 gallon water jugs. I set out to drink AT LEAST 64oz a day and within a couple days, I felt like a completely different person.
- My skin felt firmer. Having lost 50lbs a couple years ago, I always felt that my skin didn’t really bounce back like it should have. Consciously increasing my water intake started to improve this within days.
- My skin was clearer, pores smaller, and more hydrated. Every time I go for a facial, my esthetician tells me that my face needs hydration. Again, water to the rescue. My dry spots have started to disappear, the annoying under skin pimples cleared, and my pore appeared smaller.
- More energy, better sleep. Quite honestly, I never got through a day without multiple cups of coffee and I still felt drained. AND, I’m the worst sleeper on the planet. When I started to notice my energy levels going up and being able to sleep better, I was ECSTATIC.
- Flatter stomach. Yes, it’s true. The more water you drink, the flatter your stomach.
- Less cravings. I thought to myself a couple days in “I haven’t felt snackish” — so maybe that old questions “Are you really hungry or are you thirsty?” has some truth behind it.
- Shaper mind/less anxiety. Other than having to pee every 15 minutes, all this water made me feel really on my game! But, it also eased my general anxiety quite a bit.