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The reason most people struggle to make changes to their wellbeing is because of overwhelm. Overwhelm stems from the nasty little belief that you have to change everything all at once. Let’s be honest, who the hell wants to work that hard when staying where you are might only be mildly dissatisfying?
I’ve had numerous conversations about eating healthy, for example, that all begin with “I should really change my eating habits” and yet eventually they all lead down the dead-end road of “Yeah but then I would need to learn all new recipes, plus it’s expensive to eat healthy, and it would be problematic socially.”
These are all valid things to consider, but they don’t have to be your roadblocks. Making improvements to your diet or any other aspect of your well-being doesn’t have to shake up your entire routine or lifestyle. I firmly believe that it’s the simple, daily steps we take that lead to big, lasting change. All you have to do is build momentum in the direction you want to go in, and the rest is a snowball effect.
Once you begin to experience the benefits of those small simple steps, you’ll be hungry for so much more of where that came from, that those initial roadblocks won’t stand a chance.
So forget changing everything at once and start with the small, simple steps that feel achievable. Here are 5 ways that you can start building healthier habits into your day that will inevitably have a huge impact on your life.
1. Drink a whole glass of water first thing in the morning when you wake up
Before you reach for the coffee pot, fill up your water glass and hydrate that beautiful body of yours. Make this a no-brainer and fill that glass up the night before, put it by your bedside, and before you even get out of bed, drink up. If you are already doing that or it seems too easy, keep a water bottle with you all day and set several alarms throughout the day to remind yourself to hydrate. Refill when it’s empty and keep the momentum going all day long.
Staying hydrated has a massive effect on your energy and concentration, plus has the added bonus of giving you beautiful, glowing skin, so you can stop spending all your money on beauty products. Whether you are busy kicking ass at your job, creating your next masterpiece, or raising amazing little humans who are going to change the world, you can give yourself a natural and free energy boost just by staying hydrated, and it all begins with that 1 glass you drink first thing in the morning.
2. Appreciate all the things, people, and experiences that add value to your life
Of course you appreciate all of this already. But are you exclaiming it? Get into the habit of saying out loud, writing down, or consciously think to yourself how much you appreciate what you have. Start with something that comes naturally to you. For me, that’s when I walk down the street in my neighborhood. I love the street I live on. I love the sight of the park behind my house. I love the little fruit and vegetable stands, the beautiful cafes and restaurants, and the plethora of people that take their adorable dogs out for a walk making me smile and laugh. I often feel the impulse to exclaim to myself, “I love living here!”
You don’t even have to do anything different from what you are already doing. This habit is just a practice of conscious appreciation. The more you consciously appreciate what’s around you, the more you start to notice how much you have to be appreciative of, and the more this will elevate your mood. Are you seeing the snowball effect here?
Now, if you want to expedite this process, start exclaiming your appreciation to the people around you! You will lift their spirits too and that will come right back at you. I frequently tell my trainer how good and strong I feel after our workout session and it’s obvious this gives her so much motivation to create even more amazing workouts that make me feel even better than the last.
3. Remember to Laugh
Laughter is a natural stress-relief drug that we often forget about, especially when we need it the most. If you are stressed out or things aren’t going your way, give yourself a 5-minute break and watch whatever stupid youtube video makes you crack up. No, that video is probably not going to solve whatever problem is stressing you out in the first place, but it is going to pave the way for you to be able to deal with it effectively.
Sometimes we are so deep into a negative state of mind that our desperate digging to get out of there actually ends up digging our hole a lot deeper. Use laughter as a life-vest so you can swim to shore and stand up on solid ground.
You might even go so far as to apply same method I mentioned for drinking water, and set regular alarms for a quick laughing session to break up the seriousness of your day and prevent those states of deep anxiety.
4. Set the tone for a positive, joyful day
Choose one thing that brings you immense joy and start your day off indulging in that activity or thought. This could be as simple as listening to a great song, stretching or meditating for 5 minutes, or even watching that youtube video that makes you laugh (then you combine 2 habits into one!). Make it routine to fill up on that joyful feeling like you fill up on that glass of water first thing in the morning.
It can be so easy to get stuck in the daily grind and not allow yourself to feel good until the workday is over and you can finally kick back on the couch.
Joy isn’t something you have to earn.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who said, “yeah but if I indulge in all the things that bring me joy I would be eating and having sex all day long.” Okay, obviously you can’t just be doing that all day long or you’d get nothing else done, but why deny yourself good morning sex (assuming you have a willing partner), followed by a delicious breakfast? Sounds like a pretty awesome way to kick off your day!
If yoga is something you like to incorporate into your morning routine I invite you to try this 30-minute yin yoga practice for allowing joy. If you are newer to yin yoga be sure to read this blog post on Vinyasa and Yin Yoga: What Are the Big Differences.
5. Consciously check in with your body at least once a day
Many of us spend a good portion of the day utilizing that big muscle in our head and ignoring the rest of the muscles in our body, at least until those other muscles scream for attention with aches and pains. But it’s not just muscles we tend to ignore. It’s everything from our organ function to our energy and even our emotional state.
You might ask yourself what is the harm in all this. The problem is not that tiny little ache you feel in your neck today. It’s what that neck pain eventually leads to that is a real issue, and it’s being so out of touch with your body that you can no longer identify the root cause of the pain, meaning you have no idea how to best deal with it.
Make it a habit to pause for at least a few minutes a day and do a body scan. Take a few deep breathes and notice where you feel tension and where you feel good. Notice your energy, temperature, and overall emotional state. Tune in to whatever subtle sensations are trying to speak to you and see if you can become inquisitive about what comes up.
Incorporating this simple daily habit into your life can help prevent a lot of potential damage to your body, mind, and emotions. I had a student recently tell me what a huge emotional release she felt from stretching a very tight psoas muscle and how clear the mind/body/emotion connection became for her. All of the systems in our body are interconnected and maintaining optimum functioning in each, yes, even in the brain, depends on how much we nurture all the others.
If these 5 simple habits don’t seem all that simple to you, choose the one that sounds easiest and see if you can begin incorporating that into your day. You don’t have to take on a ton of changes all at once. As soon as you set one of these in motion you will begin to build momentum for the rest to take place on its own, with very little effort on your part.
If you are ready to take a bigger step towards improving your wellbeing I invite you to start a 7-day free trial of my online yoga membership. In this membership you will receive new yin and vinyasa style yoga classes and mindfulness exercises every month, designed around particular themes to inspire your growth in all areas of life, whether that’s physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. After your trial period there is no obligation to stay in the membership if you discover it’s not what you were looking for.