13 Simple Daily Habits to Improve Future Health

Crystal Jackson

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Woman stretching in bed in the morningPhoto byPhoto by bruce mars on Unsplash

I was making my bed one morning over the weekend, and as I smoothed down the sheets, I thought about how good it would feel later to slide into my neat and cozy bed. I don’t often make my bed. Mornings feel rushed, and I often rationalize that I’ll just be getting back into it later. Yet, I know that the simple 5-minute routine at the start of the day could contribute to better sleep that night.

Sometimes, the decisions we want to make at the moment don’t serve our future selves. Throwing our laundry on the floor means it will just have to be picked up later. Wallowing in the pain of a loss could mean that it takes that much longer to heal.

Yet, trauma therapy has taught me that it’s important to feel our feelings in real-time, or we may be forced to feel them as triggers later. We’re challenged to experience our emotions without holding onto them. It may not be what we want most at the moment, but our future selves will thank us.

I began looking at my day to see what simple routines help support my future self — the small things I can do now to make tomorrow better. Here are just a few.

13 Simple Daily Habits to Support Future YOU

Wake Up (A Little) Early

If we choose to wake up even 5–10 minutes earlier, we may be able to avoid that feeling of rushing through the morning. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot of time but that also means we wouldn’t be missing that much sleep either. It can help us start the day feeling calm and ready rather than stressed and rushed.

Start Hydrating

My morning routine involves coffee, but even tea drinkers can work in this simple routine. We can start drinking the first glass of water of the day while the coffee or tea is brewing, even if it’s just a sip or two. I know I’m guilty of drinking coffee like water some days, and it helps me remember to drink water if I fill my water bottle up first thing.

Customize Daily Fitness

I’ve learned to center my needs in my fitness practice. How I feel each day dictates the length, type, and intensity of my practice. I try to make fitness fun, but I also honor the way my body is feeling. Some days, a gentle yoga practice or short walk is all I can manage. Other days, I can ride my bike and still have energy left over for another type of workout.

Tidy Up

I am, admittedly, a messy and chaotic person. I am organized only in my head. Otherwise, I tend to struggle to keep a tidy environment. Yet, committing to 15–20 minutes during the day to clean up could be relatively painless. In fact, it’s a good time to sing to old favorites, discover new ones, or catch up on an audiobook or podcast.

Add a Healthy Choice

Instead of thinking about healthy nutrition as removing our favorite foods from our plates, we can consider adding a healthy choice. Grabbing a piece of fruit to go with a sandwich or opting for a vegetable side. The choices we make today support our future health, but we don’t have to make those choices from a place of restriction.

Take Breaks

When you begin to feel rushed for time, it may be time for a break. That sounds counterintuitive, but anxiety can make us less productive. A grounding practice can help us bring calm, order, and reason back to the task at hand. Even just standing up and walking away for a minute or taking a few minutes to drink water and stretch could help.

Consider Intentional Entertainment

It’s important to be intentional about our entertainment each day. What do we need — to relax, to escape, to laugh, to be inspired, to cry, or to release frustration? If we can identify what it is we need each day, we can make sure that what we watch and listen to resonates with that need. Watching a high-drama program on a day when we really need to relax may not be the best idea.

Add Luxury into the Day

Adding in a feeling of luxury to the day seems superfluous, doesn’t it? Yet, that sense of luxury doesn’t have to cost a dime. Think about what gives you a sense of feeling pampered and cared for. Perhaps it’s taking the time to make a special latte in the morning — or picking one up on the way to work. Maybe luxury, for you, is a moisturizing practice or putting on a favorite outfit. Just as we can feel rich without having money, we can add luxury to the day without needing a private plane, a spa day, or a private island.

Reach Out

We can take the time to let someone we love know that we’re thinking about them. How does this help our future selves? It builds up our support system. It’s easy to get so busy that we forget to check in with a friend or reply to a message. Intentionally keeping in touch, even if it’s only for a quick hello, can help maintain and nurture those relationships.

Be the Boss

There are a lot of things in this world that we simply don’t have a lot of control over. Traffic comes to mind. Gas prices are also outside of my personal power to dictate. However, we get to make so many choices for our lives on any given day. One of the best things we can do for our future selves is to be the boss of our own thoughts rather than letting them run away with us.

This one can be a challenge. It’s easy to get stuck in a sense of scarcity or grief. We can get stuck in our own repeating patterns of behavior. We may even feel powerless to control where our thoughts take us. Yet, we get to decide where we’ll choose to focus.

The thoughts we nurture are the ones that inform our perspective. If we focus on what we don’t have, we’ll likely feel dissatisfied rather than grateful. If we focus on who we’ve lost in our lives, we may not pay attention to the people we still have around us. Perspective really is everything, and finding new ways of looking at old situations can only help us in the long run.

Stay Open to Learning

One of the best ways we can serve our future versions of ourselves is to stay open to learning. If we’re not learning, we’re not growing either. It’s important to keep ourselves open to new ideas and new information. We may resist it at first, but if we try to understand and even do our own research, we may find ourselves discarding outdated beliefs, confronting our own prejudices, taking accountability for our actions, and becoming kinder humans.

Multitask Less

This one is hard for me and may be hard for you, too. I’m a single parent. I have many responsibilities. At all times, I’m juggling parenting, work, bills, home projects, hobbies, and house cleaning. Oh, and laundry — always laundry.

How are we supposed to multitask less and still get everything done? How does that benefit anyone or anything?

For me, I’ve found that it helps if I tackle one task at a time. My attention span can be relatively short some days, so in that case, I’ll switch up the tasks frequently, but I still manage to focus on what I’m doing while I’m doing it. Instead of trying to keep multiple things going at once, I’m learning to tune into what I’m doing so I do it better. It helps me be more intentional with my time and more present in my day, something that can only benefit future me.

Allow for Imperfection

Let’s be real: I don’t do all these things every day. I do the best I can though. I allow and even expect imperfection. Progress, not perfection, is the goal. I’m leaving behind other people’s expectations and my own often-unattainable standards, and I’m just doing my best at any given moment. Allowing this grace serves the present and future versions of ourselves.

Past, Present, Future YOU

I sometimes think about the past and what I might do differently — a pointless exercise unless we learn something from it that informs our present. There are so many ways past me could have given future me a boost. A stronger savings account comes to mind. Yet, as many things as I might have done differently with better information, I recognize that I’ve still come a long way. I can honor my past without repeating unhealthy cycles in the future.

In the present, I am trying to do what it takes to support myself and my family now as well as in the future. I’m laying the groundwork for our lives. Some of the ways I’m doing this are big — like buying a house. Some are smaller things — like teaching my kids to save a little money rather than spending it all. I’m making intentional choices even when I’d rather wallow or focus on all that we don’t have. I return to gratitude and to the present moment, and I trust that the things I do today will only support the future me.

Assuming there is a Future Me. I’ve had too many losses in my life to think the future is guaranteed. Anything can happen, but that only makes the moment we’re living right now all the more precious. I just want to live a life that matters, however inconsequential it may seem to others.

Simple daily habits are the things that make up the story of our lives. The day-to-day tasks aren’t annoyances we must conquer but a part of the lives that we live. I try to bring my thoughts into the present — my hands on the keys, my coffee growing cold in my cup, my puppy sleeping nearby in the sunlight. This moment is my life, and I don’t want to miss it.

Originally published on Medium

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA
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