While everyone has had a different experience and reaction to the non-stop insanity of 2020, I think many of us still feel stuck in the fog. Even though the chaos isn’t officially “over,” wouldn’t it be nice to step out of the fog, or at least take a step in the right direction?
I’m not a scientist, but like most people, I prefer to feel happy. When times are tough, I know I’m the only person that can change my mood, so I start by analyzing my behaviors in these 5 foundational areas:
1- Are you getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep?
If not, changing your sleep habits may be the single most important thing you can do to improve your physical and mental health. Check out this TED Talk from sleep expert Matt Walker for some startling sleep science.
2- Drink more water!
Dehydration limits your energy, as well as brain and kidney function, among other things. The Mayo Clinic says;
“Thirst isn’t a helpful indicator of hydration. In fact, when you’re thirsty, you could already be dehydrated, having lost as much as 1 to 2 percent of your body’s water content. And with that kind of water loss, you may start to experience cognitive impairments — like stress, agitation and forgetfulness, to name a few.”
I find that I drink more water when I keep an insulated straw cup or bottle that is easy to drink from, refill, and clean. Sometimes adding a slice of lemon is a nice change, and there are plenty of health benefits from the lemon too!
3- Limit your time spent watching the news and browsing social media.
It’s easy to get lost down a labyrinth of drama, opinion, ads and scary stats that leave you emotionally exhausted and depressed. Set limits for yourself by setting a timer on these apps and channels, make them less accessible, or just get rid of them entirely.
4- With all that time you’re saving from #3, do something that gets you moving! Don’t commit to a marathon if you’re not a runner. Heck, don’t try and establish a daily gym routine if you hate the gym! This needs to be different from those New Year’s resolution type exercise goals that most people quit after a few weeks.
Instead, start with something you know you can do (something you may even say is “easy”). After a week or a month of success, take it up a notch. Start with something completely unintimidating such as; 5 sit-ups when you wake up every day; or walk your dog around the block when you get home from work; or do 10 jumping jacks while you’re heating up your lunch in the microwave at work. No matter how small, any positive change is a win, so don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back every day to celebrate your success.
5- Be consciously grateful.
Studies have shown that gratefulness increases happiness, decreases depression, and can improve sleep! There’s lots of ways to practice: praying, writing in a gratitude journal, or sending a letter to a friend. My personal favorite is to think of two ways I’m grateful when I go to sleep, when I wake up, or both. Make it part of your daily routine by choosing a common prompt that reminds you to do it. This prompt could be an activity such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or brewing coffee.
You may now be thinking, “hmm, I probably should do some of that. Maybe later, when I have time…”
By putting it off, you are choosing to procrastinate. And while you may have the intention to do something, if you can find an excuse now, you’ll find an excuse later. Make this different. Decide that your body and mind deserve better. Pick at least one thing. Decide right NOW what you are going to do differently, daily. Tell yourself you’re going to do it. Set an easy goal and give yourself a way to remember it. Before long, it will be part of your daily routine, and just may turn into something that changes your mood, your health, or even your life.
About the Author
Megan Van Zutphen is a Consultant with Skyline Exhibits and Design based in South Carolina. She has been a top-selling Skyline international marketing consultant for over five consecutive years and works as a strong advocate for her clients.