When it comes to self-improvement, we keep saying that we want to be happy, successful and healthy. We tend to forget that in order to get these things into our lives, we will have to work for it and change the current habits we already have. Sometimes even if we only do small changes, it can have a huge impact on our mental health.
We have all been there, right? People keep telling you that you should start doing this and it will affect this over some time. Personally, I have lost count of how many habits I have tried to implement in my life. But things I have tried are these:
- Staying off alcohol for 1 year – just to see if I could. I am by no means a heavy or everyday drinker and I can easily stay off alcohol for months no problem. Giving it a try was just for fun.
- Waking up at 5 am every day – I get why people do it and it is nice to have extra time in the morning, but honestly. This habit has never worked well for me. I tried this for 30 days just to get into the habit, but I am NOT and will NEVER be a morning person. Early mornings don’t work for me like that. I truly hate getting up before 6 am and I am tired and grumpy most of the day if I do get up that early. It simply doesn’t work for me.
- Going to the gym every day
- Detox juicing
- Green juicing
- Planning my day the night before – to-do lists
- Journaling / 5-minute journal
- Yoga / Pilates
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These habits have improved my mental health
There are so many more habits that I have tried over the last decade. Some have worked, and some have not. Below I will mention some of the habits that have worked amazingly for me.
Preparing for the next day in the evening
I know that some people write their daily to-do lists in the morning, and if it works for them, that’s great. It doesn’t work for me. If I write my to-do list in the morning, I will keep thinking about every little thing I need to do the next day, when I try to fall asleep.
During my bedtime routine, I spend 5-10 minutes working on my to-do list for the next day. If I have a doctor’s appointment, I write that down, and I write down when I am going to the gym, to a yoga class or going shopping for groceries.
It might seem like it’s easy to remember, but if I don’t write it down, I am afraid I will forget it. Writing it down gets it out of my head, which means I can sleep ok.
Learn more about a nighttime routine for less anxiety in the morning in this article.
My favorite planner for 2019
Waking up at the same time every day
Getting up at the same time every day gets you started on the right foot. You are not trying to decide, whether you should get up or not. You just do it. Getting up and going to bed at different times every day can also make it harder for you to sleep soundly and fall asleep in the evening.
This habit will ensure that you are productive in the mornings and that you have energy for the whole day. When your sleep is not regular, this will also result in fatigue and less energy.
Do you have trouble falling and staying asleep? You can read my article about sleep patterns right here.
Admit it – you wake up, you grab your phone and you start scrolling through Facebook and Instagram to see what you have missed during the night and the evening before, right?
Guilty as charged. I used to do this, and this is the absolute worst thing you can do to yourself as the first thing in the morning.
Checking Facebook and Instagram as the first thing in the morning, you instantly get bombarded with impressions. Let’s face it, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others.
It’s something we all do. We automatically compare ourselves to those who put up perfect Instagram pictures from a new place, they visited, or to someone who seemingly has a perfect family life. It does nothing to help or ease your mental health.
Spend the first hour of your morning taking care of yourself and doing something that will soothe and ease your mind. This will get you the best start of the day. It will also keep you energized during the day.
Morning pages / 5-minute journal
When my alarm goes off in the morning, I spend about 5 minutes waking up and getting my eyes open. Once I am properly awake, I get out of bed to open my blinds and curtains (at least in the summer months, when it is still light outside).
Then I crawl back into bed and get my self-made diary out. I either write morning pages or I will write in my 5-minute journal (which is not self-made of course). It differs every day.
Read more about how journaling can improve your mental health in this article
Morning pages are supposed to work like a brain dump so to speak. You write about anything and everything that comes to mind at that exact moment. You don’t need to write pettily or correctly and you have to write out three pages.
You’ll soon realize that once you get started, you actually have a lot to say. No one but you is going to read it, so how you write it doesn’t matter. Start writing about your immediate thoughts.
That might be what happened the day before, what I have to do that day, what I am worried about etc. You’ll automatically go deeper and start reflecting on your dreams and goals for the day, week, month, etc.
The 5-minute journal is a gratitude journal. The guys behind this journal are Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas. When the journal first came out, they said that it was supposed to be “a journal for people who don’t write journals”.
I found that description pretty funny and had to get it. It’s separated into two parts: a morning and night part. You’ll have to fill out the following:
- What you are grateful for
- What would make today great
- Daily affirmation
- 3 amazing things that happened today
- How could you have made today even better
I get that thinking about new things to be grateful for every day is hard. You don’t have to. If you are grateful for the same things as the day before, write that down as well. When you have something new to be grateful for, you can write that down instead.
I typically spend between 10-20 minutes writing in The 5-Minute Journal in the morning, depending on how my thoughts are flowing that day or whether I end up distracting myself with something else. I tend to do that, you know.
After I finish writing my morning pages or writing in my 5-minute journal, I spend 5-10 minutes meditating.
I either sit with my legs crossed in my bed against the headboard or I sit on the floor on a pillow. I close my eyes and relax. Focusing on your breathing can be difficult in the beginning, but it has seriously made a difference in my meditation.
Do some light exercise
Once I am done meditating, I start doing some light stretches and move my body. I typically do between 15-20 minutes of yoga or pilates stretches/exercises.
Moving and exercising releases hormones in your body known as your feel-good hormones – specifically endorphins and dopamine. This will help keep you energized and boost your mood in a positive way.
Eat a healthy breakfast
A healthy diet has been shown to significantly relieve symptoms of depression. Examined and analyzed data from more than 46.000 people with mental health issues suggest that a diet rich in fiber and vegetables is key to a healthy mind.
Generally, the data suggest that weight loss, nutrient boosting and fat reduction diets can all reduce the symptoms of depression.
Eating high-quality foods consisting of a full range of vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, whole grains, nuts, avocado, healthy oils, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants will nourish your brain and protect it from oxidative stress.
So, there you have it. 7 daily habits that have worked wonders for me during the last 2 years.
What are some daily habits that have worked well for you? Let me know in the comments below…
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- Meditation – 10 minutes a day can change your life
- How journaling can help relieve anxiety and depression symptoms
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