By Leo Cardez
From PHN Issue 45, Winter 2021
There’s a note on my planner that I update each year on my birthday with annual increasing numbers. On my 40th birthday, eight. On my 41st birthday, nine. And so forth. That number is how many healthy habits I live by. I add one new habit each year. This goal I set each year is a gift I give to myself. I might be getting older, but I am doing something that can help me live longer and makes me a better and happier person overall. My good habits have increased each year, often replacing old, bad habits. I love the idea of becoming a better version of myself. There may come a day when I won’t be able to adopt a new healthy habit. That felt all the more real this year with the COVID-19 pandemic. But I try to take this in
stride, realize it is about the journey, take a deep breath and try again… and then again. Sticking with new habits can be difficult, but it is all about taking one small step at a time and understanding that it is okay to fail, as long as you try again.
I have done a lot of research about healthy living and tried all the recommendations that I could. Below you will find a list of my top tips—those that have worked best for me. I wholeheartedly recommend them all, but remember to start small, and try one at a time. I’m living proof that small steps work towards arriving at a better destination. It’s never too early—or too late—to adopt a new healthy habit into your life, but you have to choose them every day. Over and over and over until they become automatic.
- Start your day with a cup of ice-cold water. This fights overnight dehydration and jump starts your immune system. Drink at least eight more cups of water throughout the day.
- Eat the right food as much as you can: like protein, veggies, and fruits. Avoid sweet or salty processed foods.
- Read at least 30 minutes everyday. Fiction or nonfiction. To learn something, or just for fun.
- Do mentally challenging puzzles (sudoku or crosswords, etc.) at least 30 minutes a day. Or challenge yourself to learn a new language or study a new topic.
- Connect with others at least 30 minutes a day. Play games, walk and talk, call home—the key is to avoid self-isolating.
- Listen to music at least 30 minutes a day, especially when exercising.
- Be grateful. Find five things to be grateful for every morning and evening—even if they are small things. Start a gratitude journal by writing these things down every day. Positive thinking can literally rewire your brain.
- Do something physical for at least 20 minutes every day. Exercising, cleaning your cell, or walking to chow—the point is to move.
- Limit TV watching to no more than three hours a day, and try to watch educational programming when possible.
- Clean and organize. There are whole books dedicated to the benefits of organizing—even just making your bed every day can have a positive effect.
- Find ways to connect with nature as much as possible (yard, watching nature shows, reading travel/nature zines). As humans we have a deep, instinctual connection with nature.
- Sleep 7-9 hours a night. The benefits of getting enough sleep are endless.
- Care about yourself by taking care of yourself. All of you: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Give yourself time to create and stick to your new habits. Research shows creating and sticking to new habits takes at least 90 days.
- Start now