Do you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform? Do you reminisce about the days you used to have a hobby or when your screen time wasn’t disturbingly high? Do you long to take back control of your life and your physical and mental wellness? Well, you’re in the right place! The first step towards change is simply just that… actually taking the step towards change. Reading this article proves you’re ready for that change and that’s really one of the most important things you need. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!
I know what you’re thinking — “exercise, really? did you have to choose the hardest thing to start off with?”. Say what you will but exercise has the power to turn your life around! Even just light exercise everyday can improve your heart health, increase your energy levels and reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol, thyroid and hypertension. Not just that, research has also shown that exercise can improve your mental health as it boosts your mood and bring about an increase in positive feelings with the production of endorphins. According to a study by PubMed, 24 women who were diagnosed with depression reported a significant decrease in feelings of depression after exercise.
But wait there’s more: exercise helps your skin as well! With light but regular exercise, your body’s production of natural antioxidants increases which protects your cells and, also stimulates blood flow that helps your skin look young and clear. And that’s not all! When you get moving and your heart rate increases, more blood and oxygen flows to your brain and that, in turn, increases the production of hormones that help in the growth of brain cells. That’s good news for your memory! And not to mention, exercise also helps you sleep better!
Now is the time to invest in your physical and mental health. Even just moderate aerobic activity can make a huge difference! Maybe you can walk outside for 30 minutes, or take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, or take up swimming or cycling or start following a new workout routine you saw on YouTube — anything works! Just get your heart racing and your body moving. Trust me, even just five years from now, your body will THANK you! And remember: consistency is key. No matter how tired you are, make sure you look at the long term rewards of your hard work. To a great extent, your health is in your hands and you are in control. Change begins now!
2. Drink Enough Water
The fact that this has to be on the list is just a reminder of how much we all neglect ourselves! Water is the basic unit of life, and yet how many of us actually drink 7 glasses of water per day? Time for some self reflection: when’s the last time you actually drank enough water? Or even, at all? The truth of the matter is: water is essential to our wellbeing. Drinking adequate water has been linked with weight loss, improved circulation, boost in metabolism and significant impact on your energy level. Moreover, being hydrated is also good for your cognition — not getting enough water can cause dehydration which can effect your focus, concentration, memory and even your mood! So if you’ve been feeling fatigued and tired lately, now you know why!
So, how much water should you drink in a day? According to the Mayo Clinic, “an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and bout 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women”. You might also be taking in fluids from other sources such as food or other drinks so make sure you track your water intake per day and don’t go too overboard!
Before you look at me skeptically, hear me out! Meditation is one of the most useful tools for the 21st century. In today’s world, it is so easy to lose yourself in fantasy and dream of things that aren’t in your reach. Instagram sure makes creating an aesthetic room look easy but in real life, much of what we want is limited by various factors. But when we see other people travelling or getting a promotion or getting married, it puts us, unintentionally, in a race. We may be happy for our friends and our colleagues but no matter how hard we try, we do put ourselves down and judge our journey. We tend to forget our journey is different from everyone else’s and that that’s okay. We think so much we forget to breathe.
And that’s where meditation comes in.
Meditation allows you to simply… pause and breathe. Though there are many different types of meditation, the basic concept behind meditation is mindfulness. Mindfulness allows you to be present and fully engaged in the moment — to be present in the now. In a world as fast paced as ours, meditation is a skill that we all must acquire. Just like with any other skill, meditation might seem like hard work or even silly and unnecessary at first but over the years, you’ll find it a useful tool that guides you in your harder moments. Research has shown, over and over again, the many benefits of meditation for depression, anxiety and overthinking. One particular research showed that using the Headspace App increased your focus and reduced mind-wandering within just four weeks. Another study regarding this application found fascinating results in just a matter of just two months: a 46% reduction in depression and a 31% reduction in anxiety. Research by John Hopkins University also showed that meditation programs helped reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Not just that, meditation helps create mental resilience and satisfaction with life. Moreover, it creates self awareness, improves sleep, decreases blood pressure and improves attention span.
If you’re making positive changes in your life, meditation is one of the most important ones to make. Check these websites out or download them on your phone right now: I promise you won’t regret it one bit. Even the designs of these applications are so attractive, they pull you right in.
Applications/websites for Meditation:
- Headspace: https://www.headspace.com/
- Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/
- Calm: https://www.calm.com/
- Ten Percent Happier: https://www.tenpercent.com/
Cultivating a better you means better physical AND mental health and practicing gratitude is just one of the ways to do that. You can do so by keeping a gratitude journal, practicing positive affirmations, praying, being mindful of nature, thinking about 3 things you’re grateful for everyday and celebrating the little wins. Taking these small steps can do wonders for you, your personal relationships and your overall wellbeing. Research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons showed that even simply keeping a gratitude journal significantly increased well‑being and life satisfaction.
Here are some prompts to get you started:
- Write down one good thing that happened to you today.
- What are five personality traits that you are most thankful for?
- What about your upbringing are you most grateful for?
- Did you have a nice surprise today? Write about it.
- Did you do something nice to someone today? Write about it.
- What family members are you most grateful for? Write about what makes them special.
- What is something nice another person did for you today or this week?
- What is something nice you did for another person today or this week?
- What were your 3 best days? Write a small paragraph about each day.
- Think about the worst period you went through in your life and list 10 ways life is better now than it was then.
- Name 3 things that always put a smile on your face.
- What is the most beautiful place you have been to? Relive being in this place now.
- What are your biggest accomplishments?
- What do you really appreciate about your life?
- Name 3 things that you can start doing today to express your gratitude to others? (helping, volunteering, donating, etc). Start doing it in the next few days.
- What has been the highlight of your day today?
- What things do you own that make life easier?
- List 5 things you love about your home.
- Spend a few minutes focusing on your 5 senses and write down how you can be more mindful of each.
- What things made you laugh out loud this week?
- Write about something you saw recently that warmed your heart.
- Write about a time someone went out of their way to help you.
- Think about a time that you went out of your way to help someone.
- How can you continue being more thankful?
If you’re looking to change your life, developing a positive mindset is crucial. You need to constantly surround yourself with people and ideas that tell you that whatever it is you’re striving for is possible to attain. Self-help books go a long way in helping you develop that mindset. The authors of these books will remind you of this fact over and over again and that is: anything is possible. If you want it enough and want it genuinely, then you can achieve it. Reading such books will make up room for positivity in your mind. Here’s a tip if you’re aiming for positive thinking: read a positive article everyday as soon as you wake up in the morning and before going to bed. This way you’re starting and ending your day on a positive note. And if you do it enough, you’ll start believing in it. And from there, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming the person you’re dreaming of. Reading is important in any case but reading positive and motivational books or articles can turn your life around.
Here are some extremely helpful articles to get you started:
Turning your life around takes time and effort but if you’re truly committed, you can do it. Consistency is key but if some days are harder than others, then know that it is okay to take a break and rest. Most of the steps on these are tools to help you take care of yourself. Often, one of the hardest things to do is take out time for yourself but following these steps will help you feel energetic, strong & more at peace. Tens years from now your mind and body will thank you endlessly for taking the time to do these. Or…it won’t. Which future scenario do you want? The choice is yours.