Are you having trouble sticking to habits? You tried journaling, exercize, making a healthy lunch everyday… But after a few days you just… give up? Building up a healthy habit is not always easy. It takes some time before the behavior we want to achieve becomes a part of our auto-pilot. But good things in life rarely come at once – taking small, baby steps towards self care and taking it one step at a time could make your life much better. To find out what those small habits are, feel free to keep reading!
1. Drink enough water
We all know how important water is for the health of your body, but did you know that it is also important for your mind? All of the cells in your brain contain water, and they need it to work properly. Think about it as driving your car – if you keep avoiding trips to the gas station, at one point you won’t be able to arrive at your destination. It’s the same with your brain and water: when you are dehydrated, your brain is lacking its fuel, which leaves you feeling tired and exhausted.
Dehydration also affects your hormones. Lack of water can make it hard for your brain to produce serotonin (which you may know as “the happy chemical”). At the same time, it is producing more cortisol – the stress hormone. Drinking enough water is the first step to help your body and mind feel well, so take a nice water bottle and try to remember to take a sip throughout the day. Bottoms up!
2. Pick up the trash
Are you reading this article surrounded by dirty dishes, piles of clothes or empty soda bottles? If the answer is yes, it’s okay! You’re not alone – we all get a bit messy sometimes. But, messy surroundings have a negative impact on your overall mental health. While you’re looking at all the clutter around you, your brain is getting overwhelmed with extra visual stimuli that it has to process. This makes it hard for you to keep up your concentration and focus, it lowers your productivity levels and makes you feel even more anxious and stressed. By keeping your room as clean as possible, you can eliminate these negative side effects. If you feel like cleaning while feeling down is too much for you, that’s okay! Start small – even if you only pick up that one pizza box from your floor, you might feel a tiny bit better, and the rest will follow.
3. Keep a gratitude journal
Sometimes we can get so overwhelmed with all the negative, that we kind of forget that at least some positive is here, too. To help you remember that not everything is so black, you could try keeping a gratitude journal. Every night before you go to sleep, write down at least 3 things you are grateful for. It can be something small, like “I’m grateful that I own clothes that keep me warm”, or something bigger, for example “I’m grateful for my family’s health”. It has been scientifically proven that this small habit, remembering what we’re grateful for, is positively related to physical health, life satisfaction, hope and personal growth, self-esteem, quality of sleep, happiness and well-being. That’s a lot of good stuff coming from one simple habit, so give it a go!
4. Take a social media break
Social media can be a very nice place sometimes. You can watch educational psychology videos, cute cat pictures or funny memes. You can find inspiration and talk to like-minded people. But for every nice thing that social media has to offer, there’s at least one bad. Studies are showing that too much social media use can make you prone to depression, low self-esteem, issues with body image, anxiety, social isolation… For these reasons, and many more, it’s important that you take a break every now and then. Of course, the point is not to delete all your profiles altogether, but instead implement some small habits into each day to give you that social media detox: put your phone out of reach, turn off notifications, check your screen time, or install an app that limits your social media time. While you’re taking a break, do something nice for yourself instead – take a bubble bath, read a chapter of a nice book or draw something colorful.
5. Breathe in some fresh air
Do you spend a lot of your time inside? While being at our workplaces, classrooms or even just being at home, we are closed off between the same four walls, away from fresh air and sunlight. But to feel well on the inside, it’s important to pay attention to our surroundings, too. Whenever you can, try to go outside for at least a few minutes each day. You can take even a 5 minute walk around the block, or take some time to sit on a bench in a park.
Taking a walk can boost creativity, reduce mental fatigue, and increase attention and focus. Also, if the weather’s nice and you catch a ray of sunshine, it’s vitamin D can help with improving mood disorders. So try to make it a habit to connect with the nature around you every day!
6. Compliment yourself, even if it feels weird
How often do you say something nice to yourself? Probably not often. It’s easy to compliment another person, but we often forget that sometimes, we deserve to compliment ourselves, too. Complimenting ourselves is also called a self-affirmation – a statement that we say to ourselves that can shift our minds and make us feel better about ourselves. By saying something nice to yourself, like you’re talking to a friend, you can make your head a cozy space for you to live. You could say “I’m full of potential”, “I can do whatever I put my mind into” or maybe, “I am a kind and loving person”. At first you’d probably feel silly.
But over time, after you say it over and over again, it will feel comfortable and empowering!
Are you ready to try these out? If so, keep in mind that it’s okay to fail and skip some days. It happens, and what’s important is not to get discouraged and just keep going. Take it small and watch your life transform, step by step!
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Fuller, K. (2019, July 1). Social Media Breaks and Why They Are Necessary. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/201907/social-media-breaks-and-why-they-are-necessary
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