Photo - rawpixel-com/freepik
Habits are all the rage these days. And for a good reason. Habits are our default actions — things we do over and over again, sometimes without even being aware of them. So, of course, they affect our lives in powerful ways.
But modifying your habits is seldom easy. It takes a lot of awareness, tactfulness, and dedicated effort to get rid of a bad habit or to adopt a good one. So if you want to bring about a meaningful change in yourself this year, go for habits that give you the greatest results for the effort you put in.
To help you do that, here’s a list of five simple habits that can lead to a drastically better life.
Develop A Sleep Routine
Now with most of us going to bed with mobile phones or tablets in our hands, how fast we fall asleep varies greatly from one day to another. Some nights you have a series to binge-watch or maybe there’s a song you can’t stop listening to. On other occasions, you start texting a friend in another time-zone.
Whatever the reason might be, the concept of a proper bedtime has become history. And because most of us don’t have the liberty of waking up whenever we want to, we often don’t get the full 7–8 hours of sleep every night. That is a problem in itself, given that about eight hours of good sleep is essential for physical and mental health.
But even if you can sleep for as long as you want to, you expose yourself to risks posed by irregular sleep patterns.
As Jessica Lunsford-Avery, Ph.D., assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, says —
“The more irregular these sleep patterns, the higher the risk for obesity, hypertension, and elevated blood sugar, and the higher the projected risk of developing heart disease over the next decade.”
So make a conscious effort to develop a healthy and consistent sleep schedule. One that allows you to get enough sleep while also being able to wake up at the desired time.
The modern lifestyle revolves around ease and comfort. Thanks to technological advancements and the digital revolution, today, it’s possible to get almost anything done just by moving your fingertips. Walking from one place to another within one’s house or office has started to seem like a challenge.
No wonder lifestyle diseases — like diabetes and heart disease — are on the rise.
It’s high time we reminded ourselves — physical activity is a must. For most of us, that means regular exercises are a must. They not only help keep you in shape but also improve your mood, boost your mental health, and cut your risk of developing several diseases including some types of cancer.
So make it a point to work out for at least 20 minutes, 4–5 days every week. If you can’t go out or join a gym because of the pandemic (or for any other reason), it’s fine. There are plenty of exercises you can do without the need for any sophisticated equipment or large space.
Seize the Days
Are you struggling with procrastination? Are you finding it impossible to get things done and make any progress in life?
So many people want to take control of their lives and do big things but fail to get going or maintain the momentum even if they get started. One of the reasons this happens is that they allow a long list of tasks to overwhelm them. They want to do everything at once.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. So here’s a tip to escape that no-progress zone.
Every night before you go to sleep, note down one or two most important (not just urgent) tasks that if completed, will make you feel happy with your progress for the day. Start with about one hour of work and then increase gradually as you get better (but no more than three hours).
Then decide upon a time-slot when you would do those tasks (try to make it as early in the day as you can). And finally, be very particular about starting on time and finishing them, no matter what. It’s only one hour of work, and you have decided it’s important — there is no excuse.
Stop Using Your Phone to Kill Time
Today, it’s almost impossible to find one person who would not reach for their phone when they have nothing to do. It’s like a disease. We can’t stand the lack of some form of external stimulation.
I observed this with myself a few years ago. Growing up, I was fine being alone. I loved to explore the world in my head. But somewhere along the way, I developed a weird attachment to my phone.
It made me miserable and restless. I had forgotten to enjoy my own company. It’s a widespread and common problem today.
So try to be more deliberate and conscious in the way you use your phone. Use it when you actually have a purpose in mind. Delete the social media apps on your phone (or you will always have a purpose). If you have to wait in line for half an hour, look around, observe your surroundings, explore your thoughts. Try not to grab your phone.
Insert a Pause
Impulsive behavior is a prominent source of regrets in people’s lives. Most of us are prone to sudden waves of certain emotions — anger, despair, desire, or even happiness. And it is in such moments that we are most likely to do something stupid, whether it’s getting into needless arguments and fights, making useless purchases, or something a lot more serious.
So one of the best things you can do is — learn to identify triggers that are most likely to get you and insert a pause before acting on those emotions. When used well, that pause will allow you to process your emotions, see things with greater clarity, and respond more responsibly.
You will be surprised by how often you thank yourself for that cool-off period.
A word of caution before I end this article. If you try working on each habit listed above, it might be too tough. So start slow. I would suggest you work on one habit for a month and when you have got used to it move to another.
It will take five months, but that’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. Just think of how long you have wanted to be better with little success.
It’s time to put an end to that. Make this year count.