Sometimes it's hard to make big changes in our lives. Busyness, distractions, responsibilities, and so many other things keep us from focusing on ourselves and the improvements we desire for our health and happiness. But...what if a small, simple change could make that big difference we crave? Read on for 10 small habits that make a big difference.
1. Drink a glass of water immediately when you wake up.
We all know water is healthy. But drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up has added benefits - you kickstart your metabolism, hydrate your body, flush toxins, and - bonus - wake yourself up! (This is a great one for those of us who prefer to hit snooze.)
2. Stretch every hour.
Set a timer to go off every hour from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. When you hear that alarm, get up and STRETCH! You don't have to get too extreme...just do something to get you up and focused on giving your body some much deserved attention.
3. Make time to "brain dump" at least once a day.
What the heck is a brain dump? Read this article from LifeHack.org for a great overview: 4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain. Though the LifeHack article focuses mostly on how a brain dump helps you get organized, I find I like the brain dump to help reduce my stress. I am a chronic over-thinker. My brain can easily become a tornado of thoughts and lists which swirl into anxiety and usually end up being forgotten. When I take the time to dump all my thoughts and worries onto a page, I feel a sense of relief to have gotten some of those thoughts out, and as a bonus, I worry less about forgetting them because I can always refer back to my page.
4. Create your own personal mantra.
Having a mantra that focuses on something important to you can help retrain your brain from negative thinking to positive thinking. Say your mantra (out loud!) every day...and especially in times of stress. Need help coming up with a mantra? Check out this article from greatist.com for help: How to Come Up With a Kick-Ass Personal Mantra.
5. Say it with me: "I'll check my calendar."
It's so easy to respond to invitations, events, and volunteer or work opportunities with "Yes, of course I can!" But often those of us most eager to participate are also those of us with the least available time. Remember that it is important to prioritize some time just for you (this will help you stay healthy and avoid burn-out).
Make it a habit to respond to time commitment requests with "I'll check my calendar and get back to you." That way you'll have the proper time to seriously consider if you can afford to add to your already very full plate.
6. Give yourself time to visualize.
Visualization can become a very powerful tool to achieving your goals. Think of an important goal in your life and take the time to visualize the steps to achieving that goal. Want to learn more about visualization? Check out this article from forbes.com: New to Visualization? Here Are 5 Steps to Get You Started.
7. Write a thank you note every week.
This is just another way to say "practice gratitude." Writing out a thank you to someone (or something) makes it more real than keeping our thanks privately in our hearts. It's up to you if you want to send the thank you note or not...but writing a note will help you cultivate an attitude of appreciation.
8. Find ways to give.
Research shows that giving helps create a greater feeling of satisfaction with life. Though this research is often associated with monetary givings, you can also consider other ways of giving. Time and efforts are very valuable for non-profit organizations. Consider becoming a volunteer if your income cannot support monetary giving. But with that said...remember to keep #5 in mind.
(Are you feeling giving right now? Consider donating to Six Ways From Sunday's mother site, Rising Spirit Ministry. Your donation helps us continue to create great content for you to enjoy, and makes a difference in our online community.)
9. Do one push-up.
Often when we are inspired to change, we try to do too much at once. The idea behind this habit is that it is a positive change that starts small and can easily grow as you become stronger and are able to dedicate more time to it. (Change the habit to align with your goals and abilities, but remember: keep it small and simple!)
10. Practice self-love.
One of my biggest challenges in life centres around self-love. I was taught by my church and faith families to put others first and to avoid selfish behaviour in all circumstances. But...this attitude really set me up for failure. No one explained that it was still important to put myself first at times, and that it wasn't selfish to say "no" to a commitment that might put me over the edge. And somehow over the years, my over-active brain morphed this into not really loving myself at all. By never making choices for me, and by forgetting to take care of myself, I leaned much more towards negative self-talk rather than self-love. (This is a perfect example of how something small can turn into something very big! But the goal is to avoid these negative examples in the future and instead see those small habits create positive change.)
I recently learned a trick to help as I try to sort this out. Ask yourself: "Is this selfish or self-full?" Self-full is a term that has really taken off, and no one seems to know exactly where it originated. The basic idea, though, is that being self-full is giving yourself what you need without hurting others. Remember to love yourself and sometimes make choices just for YOU.
Want to think about this concept a bit more? Read this article from psychcentral.com. Though they use the term "selfish," it really is a perfect article about being "self-full."