Without question, a higher quality of life is something we all want. Often, simple practices can offer great benefits. Whether said benefits are reflected in your health, your headspace or your environment, taking these small steps is easy but extremely rewarding. By no means are these the keys to life, just tried and tested behaviors that keep us healthy and happy.
- Make Your Bed Every Single Day
Ever hear the saying, “Getting off to the right foot”? The sentiment is the general backbone of why making your bed every day is a good idea. It’s a simple habit that gives a sense of accomplishment, self-care and order. This then leads to making more positive decisions.
To quote U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McRaven:
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” he said in a commencement speech at the University of Texas. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
Making the bed also looks neat and tidy and radiates those qualities out into the bedroom. Since organized environments positively affect mental states, you get a neat room and a neat mind. Plus, who doesn’t love getting into a made bed at night? It may even help you fall asleep faster and get better sleep.
2. Chug Water as Soon as You Wake Up
Now that your bed is made, the next smart move is to gulp down a large glass of water. Often, we wake up dehydrated due to not being able to drink water for the long period of time that we are sleeping. Even if you aren’t thirsty when you wake, odds are your body wants the h20. Plus, getting a large portion of your daily water intake done in the morning means your body will start the day hydrated and you won’t have to play catch up once the sun is down.
When you drink water first thin the morning, it encourages the production of hematopoiesis, which is also called new blood. This has countless benefits for the body. It also activates your digestive system and helps jump start your organs, as well as balances the lymph system.
It doesn’t stop there! Trying to have more energy in the morning and or lose weight? Consuming about 16 ounces of chilled/ice water can boost your metabolism by almost 25% for 90 min!
Now, some things to keep in mind are: the more water (up to a pint or 16oz) the better, as well as drinking it as fast as possible as early as possible. Sipping 8oz (a small cup) over the course of an hour will not have the same effect as chugging 12-16oz within 5 minutes. At first 12oz or more can seem like a lot to drink at once, but you will soon find it goes down easy.
3. Break A Sweat
Now that you have started your morning with two easy kick ass practices, you will feel ready to tackle the rest of the day! The benefits of exercise and movement are endless. Everything from battling heart disease and diabetes to helping to ease depression, there is just about no ailment, be it physical, emotional or mental that cannot benefit from exercise.
Ideally you have a vigorous exercise routine that challenges you and keeps you motivated. But you don’t have to get crazy to get the prize. Simply engaging movement to the point of a light beading of sweat on the brow can have tremendous rewards. Maybe that’s a walk about the neighborhood, or playing outside with your children. Maybe you juggle for 10 minutes or do some handstands. Maybe you dance in private to a song or two. Doesn’t matter, just get the glisten! Here are some situations where getting your sweat on can be of extra value:
- Feeling tired or foggy – sweat for clarity of mind and to give yourself a boost of energy
- Creative block – get into your body to change your headspace and reset your creative juices
- Angry, upset or depressed – movement is medicine when it comes to negative emotions and thought patterns
- Have an interview, performance or important task – activating your cardiovascular system gets blood pumping all around the body, including the brain, nervous system and extremities. This can lead to better memory recall, efficient motor/body control and a boost in confidence.
4. Mindfulness Practice (Meditation)
Meditation had been shown to have countless benefits in all areas of life such as lowering blood pressure, increasing productivity and one’s over all sense of happiness. Another way of thinking about having a mindfulness practice is that it acts as a meta-skill that improves everything else. It’s a broad spectrum level up. Without question it’s one of the most common practices among successful and cutting edge individuals.
Often meditation can have a lot of stigma around it. You may hear people say they can’t meditate or don’t know how. Or, the mind must be still and quite in order for the meditation to be successful. This is why I use the language “mindfulness practice” in order to move away from the baggage of “meditation”. Simply said, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Simply sitting in silence, thoughts ablaze and all will have a positive effect.
So, find a comfortable place to sit that is easy to maintain. Relax your eyes, keeping them open or closed. Check in with your body and as you do, lets it go loose, feeling gravities pull on you. Next simply pick an amount of time, at little as 5 minutes and just simply be. If you have tons of thoughts, just let them run their course. Maybe you can relive a positive memory, or the emotion of being on the beach at sunset. Regardless, simply be still and breathe.
5. Hug Someone
Human contact is one of the most healing and rewarding things we can do. Not only does it have tremendous benefits for our body and psyche, it’s mutually rewarding. Both people involved in the contact get the benefit and that’s a beautiful thing.
Hugs, especially those held for longer periods of time (say about 8 seconds or more), release Oxytocin or the “love hormone”. This hormone is beneficial for stress levels, heart health, easing depression and lowering blood pressure and cortisol. Hugging has also been shown to fight fatigue, infection and boost the immune system.
If you can’t squeeze a hug in, go for a hand on the shoulder or a high five. Any form of human contact will have rewards. Neurologist Shekar Raman, MD, said:
“A hug, pat on the back, and even a friendly handshake are processed by the reward center in the central nervous system, which is why they can have a powerful impact on the human psyche, making us feel happiness and joy… And it doesn’t matter if you’re the toucher or touchee. The more you connect with others — on even the smallest physical level — the happier you’ll be.”
So next time you have the opportunity, open up those arms and give the gift of touch.
Now you have some tools to increase the quality of your life. Try putting at least one of these practices into effect for two solid weeks and see if you notice a difference. Put all five of them into practice maximize your life.