Every day has its ups and downs, but too often do we dwell on the perceived negatives instead of taking actionable steps to improve our days. Having a great day every day is possible. It merely requires getting in the right mindset and implementing some extra self-care strategies in your daily routine.
If you want to start improving your days immediately, take note of these strategies and look for ways to weave them into your life. A word of caution: Taking on too much change at first can lead to burnout and overwhelm, which is the opposite of your intentions. Start small with one or two of these habits and build from there.
Start the Night Before
The best way to have a great day is to start the night before. After all, nothing ruins a morning like missed alarms, lost car keys and a rushed drive to work. Take some time each night to get organized and prepare for the following day to ensure your morning runs smoothly.
Some examples of tasks to check off the night before:
Make Your Bed
A simple task like making your bed can set you off on the right foot. Starting your day with even the smallest accomplishment can make you feel energized and motivated, which affects your productivity for the rest of the day. Plus, you are taking care of your future self since there is nothing like crawling into a neatly made bed at the end of a long day.
While you are at it, fold up any clothes that have been left out and put them away. It only takes a few minutes. This habit is especially important if you work in a home office or if you spend a lot of time at home during the day. It will feel great to start your day with a clean slate, and the organization will make your evening routine easier.
Take a Moment of Stillness
Meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness: call it what you want. Finding moments of stillness throughout a busy day draws you back to your true self and keeps you centered.
Start your practice in the morning before the day starts. Steal a few minutes here or there when you need a reminder of what keeps you grounded. Focus your attention on your breath and bring yourself to the present moment. Many mobile apps offer guided meditation and mindfulness music to put you in the right mindset.
Eat a Hearty Breakfast
It's the most important meal of the day, according to the experts at Rush University Medical Center. Try waking up a bit earlier so you can have a peaceful breakfast without the rush of dashing out the door. Starting your day off with a filling and nutritious meal is the solution to banishing both brain fog and mid-morning snack
Skip the bagels, sugary cereals, pastries, and other empty carbohydrates. Instead, opt for healthy fats like avocados and hardboiled eggs. Pair it with a nutritious smoothie filled with assorted fruits and veggies for a healthy start to your day.
Here are some ingredients you can add to your morning smoothie:
Add your ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth. Increase ingredients as needed for ideal taste and texture.
Keep a Bottle of Water with You
Water makes the world go around. You should be drinking it regularly if you want to have a great day. Staying hydrated prevents headaches, cramps, illnesses, fatigue, and other health concerns. It also keeps your skin clear and your hair soft, so the long-term of hydration will add an extra pep in your step.
You typically need to drink double your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. Do not think you can cram it all in at the end of the day. The human body processes water best when it gets regular amounts throughout the day. The best way to do this is to carry a reusable water bottle around with you and set an alarm to remind you to drink water on a schedule that works for you.
Hug a Loved One
The power of a hug has been proven to make people happier. After all, humans are social by nature and need interpersonal contact for survival. The act of hugging releases oxytocin, a feel-good neurotransmitter, and promotes the feeling of happiness. There is a reason it is called the ‘love hormone.’
The benefits of hugging have gone so far as to prevent illnesses, relieve pain and improve mental health. According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, getting hugged regularly can reduce stress and keep diseases at bay. Commit to hugging a loved one every day. It can be a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a friend or even a pet.
Engage in a Passion
What activities drive you? Where do you find yourself in a state of flow? It could be fishing, painting, gaming, cooking or any other hobby that inspires you to be your best. Do your best to dedicate time to your passion each day. Hobbies promote confidence and self-expression, which carry over to the professional and interpersonal aspects of life.
If committing is an issue, find a buddy to keep you motivated. It could be a friend who shares your interests or a significant other who encourages you to pursue your passion in your free time. It only takes 21 days to create a new habit. Stick with it, and you will see the benefits of investing in personal development.
Break a Sweat
Exercise comes in all shapes and forms, so there are no excuses. If you are a team player, join a local team for your favorite sport. Better yet, try out a new activity! Recreational leagues, like kickball or dodgeball, are great options for those who prefer to play non-competitively.
If you like to exercise on your own, running, weightlifting, and yoga are excellent alternatives. Of course, there is no harm in dancing it out to your favorite music if structured exercise is not your thing. The whole point is to get up and move!
Shift Your Media Consumption
You do not need to remove television, radio or the Internet from your life. Just switch up the content that you choose to absorb. Instead of listening to stressful news on the commute to work, opt for a motivating podcast or your favorite album. Avoid sensational clickbait headlines online and fill your browsing time with inspirational articles, business development tips, and silly animal videos.
Focus your media consumption on uplifting content that either helps you grow as an individual or puts a smile on your face. Bonus points if it does both.
Volunteer Your Time
Helping others is hugely beneficial for our own physical and mental health. Research at the University of Exeter shows that people who spent time volunteering had a 20 percent reduction in mortality when compared to their non-volunteering counterparts.
While helping others has been linked with pain management, disease prevention, and many other positive health benefits, the real happiness comes from the satisfaction and pleasure of knowing you have contributed to making someone else's life a bit better.
It does not need to cost any money or even take up a lot of time. Coach a youth sports league, volunteer at an animal shelter or lend your time to a nursing home once a week. Soon, you will understand the connection between helping others and helping yourself.
End your night by asking yourself one simple question: What are three things that you are grateful for? It does not need to be anything grand. It could be as simple as having made the time to call your mother or the fact that you tried a new recipe for dinner.
Instilling this practice each night conditions yourself to appreciate the little things in life. It's hard to have a great day if you do not recognize what made it great. If you want, go a step further and write these things down in a journal. However, do not pressure yourself if it feels unnatural. If you can only commit to a moment of mindfulness at the end of the night, that is enough to make a difference.
Take a moment to revisit these tips and ask yourself which will make the most significant impact on your life. Hold yourself accountable for taking steps to have a great day. Negativity counters progress, so do not feel bad or guilty if you slip up. Instead, forgive yourself for mistakes made and recommit to your goal.