If you’ve been struggling, feeling down, or just not feeling like yourself, you’re not alone. Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to major lifestyle changes. Many experienced being socially isolated at home, have lost loved ones, and felt the financial impact from inflation or unemployment. All of these things can take a toll on our mental, physical, and emotional health.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the 12 most important habits that can curb feelings of stress and anxiety, reduce your risk of disease, and boost energy and vitality.
Your blood flow increases when you exercise, and your body produces feel-good endorphins. Endorphins improve mood, reduce stress, and alleviate pain. Increased oxygen is great for circulation and reducing inflammation. It can also improve cognition and mental performance.
According to the CDC, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce disease risk, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve mood and self-confidence. Research suggests that exercise can also promote neuroplasticity in the brain, which plays a big role in learning new skills, activities, and languages.
Longer workouts are great, but even seven minutes is enough to gain benefits. If you’re pressed for time, take a quick stroll around the block, jog in place, do some jumping jacks in your living room, hold a plank position, or take your dog for a walk.
2. Take A Few Minutes To Meditate
Some people struggle with meditation, and it’s no wonder – we live in a world with constant stimuli, and the simple activity of keeping your body and mind still can be challenging. The great thing about meditation is that you can start small and work your way up through practice.
Taking just a few deep breaths can have big benefits, such as helping you relax during a stressful scenario or improving your focus and performance at work. Meditation helps to clear your mind and focus on the present, which can boost creativity and productivity.
Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can improve your social well-being by increasing empathy, laughter, and connection. It can also help us better understand ourselves and process our emotions first before acting on them. This sort of mindfulness is great for emotional well-being and promoting happiness within ourselves and our relationships.
This can give you peace of mind and lower stress levels. When you get a chance, take the time to research it, mediation can definitely be a great tool to use in many of life’s situations.
3. Massage Therapy
Many studies have been published over the last decade that prove how beneficial massage therapy can be. Massage can have emotional, mental, and physical benefits. We’ve shared many resources that show how massage can help you in your everyday life.
Plus, with massage therapy treatments, you can choose a specific massage that can help you with some of the conditions you may be experiencing.
Take Swedish massage for example. This type of massage is gentle and relaxing, a great choice for anyone who needs to relieve stress and anxiety. If you need a deeper massage to work out those knots, or trigger points, there is a deep tissue massage that can do just that.
Explore the different types of in-home massage that can be delivered right to your door.
4. Dental Hygiene
A simple cavity has the power to destroy all of your teeth, if it’s left untreated. Your mouth contains a lot of bacteria and while most of them won’t harm you, some of them can. Your mouth is the portal to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause diseases.
Good oral health care is extremely important, so make sure you’re brushing your teeth every day daily and flossing – this will help you keep the bacteria under control. Without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease, these can lead to trouble.
This is why dental treatment is very important.
On top of that, new dental technology has come a long way. Take Aspired for example, they offer laser dentistry. This breakthrough technology replaces the dreaded drill for a gentler, faster, and more precise treatment. If you’ve been scared of getting dental work done because you are fearful of the drill and pain, laser dentistry may be a much better option for you.
If you’ve ever experienced tooth pain, you likely know how severe that pain can get. If you don’t want your teeth to get to that stage, proper dental care is essential to avoiding discomfort, brushing your teeth daily is a very important healthy habit.
5. Get Plenty Of Sleep
Sleep is very important to your health. It helps support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development. Getting inadequate sleep over time can raise your risk for chronic (long-term) health problems.
The U.S. Department of Health And Human Services recommends the following:
- Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night
- School-aged children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night
- Preschoolers need to sleep between 10 and 13 hours a day (including naps)
- Toddlers need to sleep between 11 and 14 hours a day (including naps)
- Babies need to sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day (including naps)
- Newborns need to sleep between 14 and 17 hours a day
With that being said, they also shared that getting the proper amount of sleep daily can help you get sick less often, lower your risks for health problems, think more clearly, avoid injuries, and make better decisions.
6. Take Time Out For You
“Burnout” is a real thing. We all need a break from the daily grind and pressure of responsibilities and obligations. A vacation or a self-care day can be a great way to combat burnout and improve your overall health and mood.
Making time for yourself can help you feel energized, less stressed, rested, renewed, and less anxious. Self-care and mental health are becoming more widely practiced for men and women alike. Whether it’s a road trip with the family, a spa day with a girlfriend, or an appointment at home, your mind and body will thank you for carving out time for your wellness.
While some people may prefer to be alone, isolation can have a truly negative impact on our mental and physical health. In fact, studies show that loneliness contributes to a higher rate of disease, depression, dementia, and premature death. Humans are wired for connection and need relationships with others. Just the sound of a familiar voice can have a big impact on the way you feel.
Think about those who mean a lot to you. Think about those who care about you. It could be a father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or just a close friend. Try contacting them and see if they have a few minutes to catch up. If it’s a family member, try planning a few hours to reconnect with them, it could be a dinner, sports game, a get-together with the kids, or other meaningful events. Even a simple text or phone call can have a major boost to your overall wellbeing.
8. Take A Walk Daily
While walking is definitely exercise, we feel it deserves its own space because walking is more than just exercise: Research from the University of Michigan has found that being in nature can improve cognitive function. For those of you who live in nature or have a passion for the outdoors, you can likely understand this.
In one study, an hour-long trek in a woody park improved subjects’ performances on memory and attention tests by as much as 20 percent, compared with a walk in an urban environment. If you live in the city, try planning a walk outside of the city limits, somewhere secluded. It may be well worth the trip.
9. Learn To Say “No”
Do you have trouble telling others no? If so, you’re not alone. Here’s the thing: when you try to do more than you can handle, most scenarios end up with you being overwhelmed, frustrated, and stressed out. If you do this a lot, it could have health impacts on you.
If someone asks you to do something and you know that you don’t have the time for it, know that it’s completely fine to say no. If you’re in a situation where you can’t say no, make sure you reach out for help. And if you can’t do it, explain why you can’t, but do be firm about it.
10. Make Sure To Set Goals
Goals can be powerful motivators. If you make a schedule and set goals for yourself for the week, you’ll be more on top of your days, and when you’re more on top of your days, you’re more on top of your life.
Try making a checklist of the exact steps you need to take to reach your goal. Once you finish each step, make sure to check it off. This activity can provide a sense of accomplishment, which motivates us to keep going.
Another neat mental trick that works to help change behavior is changing the way in which you think and verbalize your goals. Instead of saying your goal in the form of: “I will meditate each morning before I start my day”, try reframing it to: “I am meditating each morning to start my day”.
11. Work And Home Balance
If you’re spending too much time at work, you can greatly benefit from making the effort to schedule time with yourself, your friends, and your family. This may be a difficult thing, especially for those required to work a lot of hours. If you’re working long hours or a demanding job that prevents you from showing up in a present, meaningful way for your life and the people in it, the reality is, that it may be time to switch things up. That could mean looking for other opportunities or finding a better way to create healthy boundaries so as not to negatively impact your life outside of work hours.
Burnout can be difficult to describe. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, burnout is defined as “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.”
When you take time to disconnect from work to recharge, it can actually help you perform better when you are at work. It can give you a fresh perspective, a better attitude, and even sharpen your creativity and problem-solving abilities.
12. Eat Healthy
We can’t discuss healthy habits without talking about eating healthy. There are many non-restrictive diets that can offer a lot of benefits, the healthiest include:
- A variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables (3 or more servings a day).
- A variety of fruits (2 or more servings a day).
- Whole-grain, high-fiber breads and cereals (3 to 6 servings a day). Reduce or eliminate refined or processed carbohydrates; most of the grains in your diet should be whole grains.
- Lean proteins such as eggs, beans, poultry without skin, seafood, lean meats, unsalted nuts, seeds, and soy products. If you eat meat, eat white meat at least four times more often than red meat.
- Reduced saturated fats and trans-fats (such as partially hydrogenated oil) as much as possible.
- Reduced daily intake of salt or sodium: less than 1,500 mg. per day if you are older than 50, or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.
- Restrict or eliminate snacks, sodas, and other sugar-added products that are high in calories and contain few or no nutrients.
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Drink only when it doesn’t put you or anyone else at risk.
There you have it: 12 healthy habits that can help you start feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally. We encourage you to continue browsing other wellness articles to learn more about prioritizing self-care and how Soothe can be used as part of your wellness journey.