What are good daily habits?
It can be quite tricky to keep up good daily habits, can’t it? But, the benefits of choosing to prioritise your health and well-being are so positive that we should take the time to prioritise them.
Good daily habits can help prevent overwhelm, burn-out, stress and even illness. By building a more robust immune system through sleep, rest and healthier living, we can help our bodies to become stronger in fighting off disease. We can also increase our own awareness of the signs of fatigue and stress before they have a detrimental impact on our health and well-being.
Taking the time to care for ourselves through good daily habits, helps us recognise when something is off balance or out of synch quicker to make adjustments and prevent the problem from becoming chronic.1
So, if the benefits are so great, why don’t we prioritise the practice of good daily habits to strengthen our health and well-being?
We’d all love to feel good, eat well and create a stress-free and happy life, so why don’t we?
Because it takes time: Being disciplined and creating a routine feel like they add to the list of chores, and with so much going on in our busy lives, we feel we simply don’t have the time to do everything, so we edit our day.
It’s also easier to cut out the things we want to do because if we are answerable to no one. For example, I can easily choose not to run because I’m not letting anyone down, only me.
Why do we choose these things to cut? Because we aren’t answerable to anyone else but ourselves, you aren’t letting anyone else down but you. However, if you choose not to run an errand for a friend, then you’re letting them down. We shift our priorities when we’re under pressure based on ease.
And yet, it’s entirely counter-productive. Because eventually, we become exhausted, resentful, unwell or simply unhappy.
Therefore, good daily habits must become our non-negotiables. Things that are set in stone, just for us, to protect and preserve our mental health and well-being.
What is a habit? Let’s start by understanding the nature of a habit.
The dictionary defines a habit as ‘a settled or regular tendency or practise, especially one that is hard to give up.’
The American Journal of Psychology suggests: A habit is a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. Defining a “habit, from the standpoint of psychology, [as] a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”
We are all familiar with some of our regular habits, for example, brushing our teeth, exercising, watching our favourite shows. Then you have the not so good habits such as drinking, smoking and overeating.
But why are some habits easier to break than others? For example, I love cake, but it’s hard for me to stop because it’s become such a ‘happy’ habit. Yet, I want to run every day, but this habit is hard to keep and easy to break. Why?
Charles Duhigg is the author of The Power of Habit; he has spent years researching this very subject. He suggests,
‘Apparently, 40% of the actions we perform on any day are not actual decisions but habits. From brushing your teeth or driving, to whether you go for a run when you get home or slouch in front of the couch. All are habits and it’s possible to create both good and bad ones. Essentially, the brain is always looking to save effort by creating new habits, so our energy can be saved for other tasks. When a habit emerges, the brain stops being involved in making decisions. So to change a habit, you have to fight it!’2
How can we find time for our good daily habits?
It often feels like we never have enough time, doesn’t it?
Rushing about, getting stuff done, but then what? At the end of the day, you may feel like you’ve achieved nothing and are exhausted and stressed from an unfulfilling day.
Time management can help; learning how to manage your time effectively can help you feel more relaxed, focused and in control.
“The aim of good time management is to achieve the lifestyle balance you want,” says Emma Donaldson-Feilder, a chartered occupational psychologist.
“Work out your priorities in life,” says Emma. “That is then the guiding principle for how you spend your time and how you manage it.”
Once you have worked out the big picture, you can work out some short-term and medium-term goals. “Knowing your goals will help you plan better and focus on the things that will help you achieve those goals,” says Emma.3
Prioritising your good daily habits
It can be difficult to work out your priorities but remember, they don’t have to be fixed, and they may change, but it’s important to make a start. Perhaps yours will be got to the gym 3 days per week. Read one book per month; there’s no right or wrong here. These are your priorities so ask yourself, what’s important to you?
We’ve chosen 5 Good Daily Habits to get you started
- Create a Morning Routine.
Starting your day with a good morning routine can really set you up for a positive and productive day. To begin with, keep it short and simple, then you can be sure you have the time to do it every day.
- Sleep well.
Sleep deprivation can be hugely detrimental to our brains and bodies, so you must achieve QUALITY and QUANTITY for your overall health and well-being. Our circadian rhythm, or circadian cycle, is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark so try to follow some simple practices like managing your eating time, daylight exposure, exercise and stress management.
‘Studies have shown that chronically sleep-deprived animals and humans have weaker immune systems, making it easier for even mild infections and viruses to gain entry to the body and cause more damage or even death. Therefore, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is a powerful strategy to maintain better immunity.’1
3. An Attitude of Gratitude.
Research has shown that experiencing gratitude has physical, psychological and social benefits, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences reported in Forbes.
Begin with something as simple as thinking of 3 things you are grateful for. You can do this when you wake up or just before bed. It’s a very simple yet effective habit to start. For example, it can be as easy as writing down, ‘today I am thankful for: The roof over my head, the food on my table, and the family around me’.4
The holistic benefits of meditation are diverse: It can help reduce mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and naturally manage our stress and anger levels. Not to mention the physical effects of pain reduction, improving heart health and promoting significantly improved sleep patterns.
These benefits have knock-on effects such as increasing our immunity, improving mood, relationships, and overall well-being.5
5. Spend time outdoors.
How often have you been for a walk and thought to yourself, isn’t this wonderful-I can hear the birds, smells the air and just be at peace?
And yet, we spend so much time indoors that we forget how uplifting and beneficial to our overall mood it can be.
Research by the mental health charity MIND suggests,
‘Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. For example, research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression. This might be due to combining regular physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature.’6
Even giving yourself a proper lunch break, walking to work, or having your early morning cuppa in the garden can significantly impact your health and well-being. Remember, it needs to work for you, and this is one simple habit you can easily incorporate into your daily life.
Between our busy lives and unexpected things happening, one of the first things to push aside is the extra things we don’t always consider important, and our daily habits are no exception. BUT, they should be the exception!
The reality is that your good daily habits are the last things we should be edited out of our day.