“I hope you realize that every day is a fresh start for you. That every sunrise is a new chapter in your life waiting to be written.”
- Juansen Dizon
Ready for a new start? Read how these small changes in your everyday routine can help you become healthier, happier, and more mindful. You got this!
As 2022 comes to a close, and a new year is on the horizon, many of us look for a fresh start to things. Whether it be resolutions, intentions or new habits, people of all cultures and faiths have seen the beginning of a new year and season as a reason to introduce positive change for centuries.
However, creating impactful changes in life can often be seen as difficult and hard to reach. With the demands of modern culture, working long hours, managing household tasks, family care, school and sports, it can be hard to imagine how to possibly find any extra time to put our own health and happiness to the forefront. I would argue that your health and happiness needs to be at the top of your priority list and through small manageable habit adjustments you will make a huge impact toward reaching your goals.
Great positive steps can be taken toward creating a better year through cultivating healthy habits. A study has shown that introducing small healthy habits into your daily routine can help add on years of life and maneuver serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.
Additionally, with habits generally taking a small amount of time in your day, they are easy to work into your schedule, and although you will notice the small benefits that these habits can provide right away, the greatest secondary effects will show in the long term. Small steps toward your health have a huge positive compounding effect if you give them time to work.
As the saying from Mark Twain goes,
“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man but coaxed down-stairs one step at a time.”
The most successful strategy is to start by choosing a few of these habits which can be successfully implemented into your day-to-day life. Once you are able to master those habits (complete them without question or trouble), you can then look to add in a few more.
The most important advice we can give you is : DO NOT GIVE UP and don’t stress on perfection. Missing “ the mark” on one or two of your regular habits a week is okay, just make sure to get focused right back on your goals and not allow your thoughts of perceived failure take over and drive you to quit it all.
Once you begin to feel and/or see any positive changes from your newly practiced habits, focus on them, pause and take mindful moments to feel the difference you are making, celebrate daily wins and add some gratitude thoughts each day you meet a goal.
Try adding a few of the following:
Habit 1. Waking Up with The Sun
Waking up with the natural sunrise has been shown to be essential for optimal health. This is due to our natural circadian rhythm, or the biological and psychological processes that oscillate in predictable patterns each day. This internal clock is influenced by sunlight and temperature, and controls when our body feels best to eat, sleep, and rise.
Our circadian rhythm prepares us for upcoming changes in the environment, allocating when our optimal hours for “hunting” (or work, physical activity, etc) are.To best follow your circadian rhythm, you should aim to wake up around when the sun rises, or a little before or after, depending on your work schedule.
Habit 1: Set your alarm clock to a time around when the sun rises.
This can seem difficult, however, with a bit of practice, you will be able to be considered a “morning person”. Most people can reset their body clock by keeping a regular sleep schedule and exposing themselves to the sunrise.
Try this Hatch Restore Sunrise Alarm Clock as an easy way to start setting your circadian back to its natural and healthiest state.
This habit alone will create space for you to get more items you want to accomplish done before you start your workday many of which can become great small healthy habits like those few minutes of mindfulness you can’t seem to get, sipping your morning tea or coffee with a little less rush, preparing and eating a healthy breakfast, fitting in a workout, or spending a few minutes in a planner or journal. This extra time alone can mean all the difference toward a healthier, happier you.
Habit 2. A Daily Dose of Sunlight
Following the same logic, to help us wake up early in the morning and stay awake throughout the day, we should aim to get about 10-15 minutes of natural sunlight in the morning.
Depending on your environment, this could mean opening up your bedroom blinds, having coffee next to a sunny window in your home, sipping coffee on the porch or taking a brisk walk outside. Of course, if you live in particular locations that are seasonally more overcast, you may need to get a little more creative and add some Light Therapy Lamps to your home or office desk.
Below are some highly reviewed Light Therapy Lamps to try with different styles and sizes. Check them out.
More on the benefits of sunlight:
Sunlight provides several benefits to humans. The most recognizable is the creation of Vitamin D, as sunlight is the strongest source of energy for humans to get this essential nutrient. Other benefits of sunlight include the support of bone health, managing the body’s calcium levels, reducing inflammation, and promoting an overall boost to the immune system.
One of the most important benefits of sunlight when it comes to creating better habits goes back to our previous point: getting better sleep. Sunlight helps the body produce regular levels of serotonin and melatonin, which help promote the circadian rhythm essential to the sleep cycle.
Habit 3. Hydrate to Feel Great
Hydration is key to health, and is often overlooked. Our bodies are 60% water, and this fluid makeup is a necessary component to your body functioning and feeling at its best.
Dehydration and even just low fluid intake can lead to fatigue, headaches, increased cravings, constipation and poor digestion. While some sports drinks claim to hydrate your body better than water, most of them include heavy sugars. So over juices, sports drinks, or other beverages, your best option is some good old-fashioned H2O. Many people have a hard time taking in plain water so one trick to increasing your hydration is to buy some flavor packets made with all natural ingredients like True Lemon which are sweetened with stevia and don't contain any artificial colors or flavors. These are also a great natural choice for kids' drinks!
Start drinking your water when you wake up, sip throughout the entire day and if you don’t have one already, a water bottle is one of the best investments you can make toward increasing hydration.Just remember to slow down drinking fluids after dinner, so you do not disrupt your sleep throughout the night because you wake to use the bathroom.
Habit 4. Mindfulness, Meditation, and Movement
The SWS Method provides you with the tools you need to kickstart a movement and mindfulness meditation practice.
These practices have been proven to help with :
- Reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Improving Focus and Mood
- Increasing flexibility and reducing pain associated with tight muscles when a stretching or yoga practice is included.
A combination of foundational breath techniques, evidence based stretching, and mindfulness based stress reduction are all a part of the SWS Method. The goal of this practice is to encourage mindfulness and create a balancing sense of calm in the mind and body.
The practice of stretching allows the body to release endorphins that help the body and mind feel positive and encourage strength.
Breathing is an important part of meditation as many practices incorporate breathing into their work, such as yoga, to help promote relaxation and focus on the present moment.
Habit 5. Make Your Bed
Taking the time to do a few things in the morning to clean up your space has been found to have tremendous effects on mental health and productivity. For many, doing something as small as making the bed can make us feel more confident about ourselves, and everything that we can accomplish. In addition, it feels great to come home to a made bed, or a tidy space, whereas coming home to a messy house can make us feel negative about ourselves, anxious and drained.
Although we do not have the time to clean our entire apartment or house in the morning, start by just trying to make the bed, wiping counters off in the kitchen, and keeping the mail stack organized by recycling and sorting it daily.
Creating positive morning rituals like these can aid in establishing a sense of order and control over our sometimes chaotic outside environments which will translate over into our internal states.
Habit 6. Make Time for Movement
Studies show that moving as much as you can during the day has tremendous benefits on your overall health, including weight loss and maintenance, blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, heart health benefits, and more.
Although the more we move our bodies the better, immense health benefits have been shown to occur from just a daily walk of 10 minutes. Another study has shown that just a 15-minute walk in the morning and one in the afternoon can improve posture, mood, circulation, the risk for chronic disease, and mental health.
Habit 7. I Don't Eat Much, Mostly Plants
Research on the longest-living groups of humans in Japan and Italy found that most of their diet was composed of plants. This means that you should be incorporating a lot of fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes, and grains into your diet.
This doesn’t mean that you need to turn vegetarian, vegan, or cut-out chocolate. Opt for nutritious alternatives to processed & packaged foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, and excess sodium when possible. Aim for more colorful fruits and vegetables and less “brown foods” at every meal. Combining these healthy eating habits with a proper exercise regime that includes 30 minutes of activity every day is important to maintaining body longevity.
Check out our blog on body longevity to learn more.
Habit 8. Sleep!
Our sleep is the most important healing activity that we can give ourselves. Sleep gives the body a “soft reset” to process and heal from the events of the day. This includes recuperating the immune system and preventing infection.
It is important to get full and restful sleep. Without good sleep, the body will not be able to fully recover. Good sleep includes deep and Rapid-Eye Movement sleep, where the eyes move rapidly back and forth.
Approximately 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended so the body can go through an entire REM cycle, as that is where the body recovers the most and provides the feeling of restfulness.
Implement Healthy Habits Today!
Now is the time to start building healthy habits that can transform your life. By implementing the tips above, you can improve the quality of your health and entire life. For a great book on habits and how to create lasting change check out these two books on the subject:
The Power of Habit : Why We Do What We Do in Business and Life. By, Charles Duhigg
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. By, James Clear
We are here to help you achieve a life that feels great and helps you meet all of your goals and dreams. Please reach out at www.swatsonsolutions.com for more!