The past two years have been tough on ALL of us. Check out the 10 things that I do regularly that can help make a healthier happier YOU!
We all know that March of 2020 seemed to change life as we knew it. I feel like we all think of our lives now in terms of BC (before Covid) and AC (after Covid). Life seemed simpler before all of this and in many ways it was. I also feel like the past two years have taught us a lot. I know I have learned many things about myself and how to handle my emotions over the past two years that I’m not sure I would have learned otherwise. Though life looks a little different now, there are 10 things that I do on a regular basis to make a healthier happier me, and I think that they could benefit you too! Here are 10 steps to a healthier and happier YOU!
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Walking gets a bad rep for being running’s ugly step-sister. Let’s face it, we don’t all love to run. I, in fact, haaaate running! It hurts my knees, makes me anxious, and gives me shin splints. Yes, I know, I could train myself to run and learn to love it, but right now, I’m just not there and that’s okay.
Starting about 6 years ago, I began walking about 3 miles every day. When I lived in south Austin, I would walk the Lady Bird Trail every afternoon after work religiously! Nowadays, I simply walk around my neighborhood every morning after breakfast! I take different routes all the time and explore different pockets of the place that I call home. Not only is this a great time for me to clear my head every morning before work, but it’s also a great time to catch up with friends!
While walking 3 miles may not be realistic for you, getting out and walking for even just 15 minutes a day can make a huge impact on your life! You can walk out your frustrations, see nature, and even get some exercise. Yes, you heard that right! Walking is great exercise! So lace up your walking shoes and get out there, one step at a time!
Here are my favorite walking shoes:
2. Limit your intake
I learned early on in the pandemic that too much news makes me anxious. In today’s world, we are constantly inundated with information: TV, the internet, social media, cell phones, BLOGS, the list goes on. While information at our finger tips can be a really wonderful thing, it can also be the thing that takes us down kicking and screaming. This is why my second tip is to limit your intake.
I often have people ask me why I don’t post on social media much anymore. I find that when I am too focused on capturing the moment on my phone, I am missing the moment I am truly in. Yes, this means a lot of my life won’t be documented for the public, it is, however, documented vividly in my mind! I highly recommend doing a week long social media detox. Delete the apps from your phone so that your only way to access them is on your computer. If you really need to see something, you can pull out your computer and log in.
Another way to limit your intake is to only check the news once or twice a day. Limit yourself to 20 minutes in the morning before work and 20 minutes in the afternoon after work. Beyond that, if something happens that you really need to know about, trust that someone in your circle will let you know!
My biggest trick for limiting my intake is disabling alerts on my phone! I don’t have alerts for Facebook, Instagram, or personal email. The only alerts on my phone that are enabled are texts and work emails, and yes I limit those too. Any work email that comes in after 5:30, I don’t read until the next business day!
3. Find a routine and stick to it!
I have always been a regimented gal. Once I get in a groove in life, I pretty much stick to it on a day to day basis. When we are out of town, which is often, I am much more flexible, but when I’m home, I’m the most predictable person you’ve ever met!
I go to bed at 9:15, read my devotional, watch 20 minutes of Golden Girls, and it’s lights out by 10:30 at the latest! I wake up everyday at 7:15 or earlier naturally because I am so used to my routine. The first thing I do when I get out of bed is make and eat breakfast and then it’s out the door by 8 for my 3 mile walk! I come home and shower, start work by 10 (I work on west coast time), call it quit’s by 5:30 and shut my computer. By that time it’s supper time, we eat, relax, and then it all starts again!
My meal times even have a routine. I eat at 7:20 for breakfast, 11:30 for lunch, and 5:30 for supper every day! I know it sounds nuts but, I swear, it makes me happier and healthier! Now, while I know that a routine like this is not realistic for everyone, I know that everyone is capable of some sort of routine, even if it’s just your bedtime. Give it a shot, I promise it will make a difference!
4. Make your meals at home
I know, this sounds tough, but I promise, it doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. Eating from scratch can be as easy as making scrambled eggs in the morning (even in the microwave). While there are many convenience foods that we eat regularly like sandwich bread and English muffins, most of the food in our house is made from scratch.
I get up and make breakfast for us every morning, usually scrambled eggs and strawberries or toast with jelly. Lunch usually consists of left overs from the night before or soup that I prep on the weekends, and supper is different every night!
While I LOVE to cook and look for any excuse to be in my kitchen, I feel like knowing what is going in our food is part of what keeps us healthy. There are no real restrictions in our household, just good wholesome ingredients made into something yummy to fill our bellies.
There are TONS of shortcuts you can use like frozen rice, prepped veggies from the grocery store, and meal prepping ingredients to use throughout the week when you have a little extra time. Start with just one meal every day that you commit to eating at home and work your way up! You can do it! I believe in you!
Need some inspiration? Here are a few recipes we love and make often:
5. Daily Devotional
Since the age of about 13 or 14, my parents have given me a devotional book every year for Christmas. Starting at that age, I began doing a nightly devotional every night when I get in bed. I spend several minutes saying my prayers and then do my devotional which takes me about 5 minutes a night. These devotionals typically consist of a scripture, a short story or lesson, and a journaling space where you can write about what you learned or maybe a prayer based off of what you read.
For me, this is a Christian devotional that is based on the Bible. I get a different one every year and work through it every day for 365 days. For you, this time might look like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Whatever helps to ground you and put your mind and eyes back on what’s really important before bed is what you should do!
This daily devotional helps me to keep my eyes on Christ and know who and what is really important and helps me to put everything else to bed. Doing this every night helps me sleep well with happy thoughts on my mind and wake up refreshed and new every morning! It is a REALLY great habit to get in to.
Here is the devotional I’m working through this year:
6. Find a hobby
If having hobbies was a job, I’d be a professional hobbyist. On second thought… maybe I am? I have more hobbies than I know what to do with! I love to cook, garden, I’m learning how to can food, I love to draw, paint, design anything and everything, and even do something called Junk Journaling (if ya know ya know).
Hobbies are what I do in my downtime. While I do watch some TV, I primarily put my hands to work when I am not busy with work or life. Because TV is so easy to consume now with services like Netflix and Hulu, it is the easy thing to turn to when you have downtime. Learning to put your hands to something when you have time not only shifts your mindset, but gets your brain working as well!
So, what should you do for a hobby? Thats up to you! Learn a new skill, learn a language, get outside, go hiking, whatever makes your heart happy, do that! Don’t know what makes your heart happy, do some exploring and find something that makes your heart sing!
In case you were wondering, this is Junk Journaling:
7. Find the joy in the mundane
Growing up in a small town, even going to Wal-Mart seemed like an adventure to me… and it still does! I remember sometimes in the evenings, my dad and I would get bored and decide to go to Wal-Mart to just look around for entertainment! Haha! As crazy as that sounds, I have carried that outlook into my adult life! My husband says that I’m like a dog. I like to just ride in the car with him! If he is just running down the street to get gas or to go wash his car, I always want to go with him because it’s an “adventure”!
It’s easy to grumble about the mundane things that we have to do in our day to day lives like laundry, dishes, or mowing the yard. If you can learn to shift your perspective and have an attitude of gratitude, your entire outlook on life can change! Be thankful that you have clothes that you love and have the duty to take care of to keep them looking nice. Be grateful that you had a meal on your plate and are able to clean those plates to serve another meal on another day. If you are a parent and lost in the reality of constant diaper changes and cleaning up after your kids, stop and realize how blessed you are to have children!
All it takes to find joy in the mundane is taking a second to realize the reality of the privilege behind the task at hand. A small perspective shift can make a HUGE change in your attitude and your overall outlook on life!
8. Get outside!
In modern times, it is all to easy to stay indoors all day long. I am a firm believer that getting outside everyday is not only good for your mental health but is also good for your physical health! Getting your daily dose of vitamin D is so good for you!
What can I do outside you ask? I say, choose your own adventure! You can hike, garden, ride your bike, heck even just eating your lunch outside makes a difference! During my work day, I am guilty of eating my lunch at my desk most days, but I try to give myself a 15 minute break during the day to just sit on my back porch and soak up some sunshine. I also get my daily dose of vitamin D on my walk every morning! So go ahead, get out there and get HAPPY! Also, wear sunscreen!
Here is my favorite sunscreen:
9. Eat your fruits and veggies!
It is so easy to not get enough fruits and vegetables in your daily diet if you aren’t actively thinking about it. Most convenience foods consist of starches and meats, but it can be really easy to get in enough fruits and veggies every day if you just do a little planning ahead!
Normally on Sundays we do our grocery shopping. I try every week to have 2 or 3 fruit options for the week and about 4 vegetable options to keep on hand. One trick I like to do to make myself more likely to eat the produce that we purchase is to wash it all as soon as we get it and store it in easy to see containers!
For fruits, I typically get strawberries, blueberries, and bananas on a weekly basis, but also love to cycle in some cotton candy grapes for snacks. I wash the strawberries and blueberries and put them in a clear container in the fridge lined with a paper towel to eat with my breakfast every morning. I eat bananas as snacks or in my cereal, and my favorite trick with grapes is to wash a bundle and put them in a bowl at the front of the fridge ready to grab for snacks throughout the day!
For veggies, I typically get a bag of mixed vegetables to eat with hummus or ranch dip for snacks and a few vegetables for options for supper every week. We always have celery and carrots in our fridge as these can be used in almost any recipe, but we also typically have sweet potatoes, broccoli, and green beans on hand at any given time!
Here are some fruit containers similar to the ones I use, and you can purchase labels for them on my Etsy site!
10. Be nice to yourself!
It’s so easy to cut yourself down and be mean to yourself. If you wouldn’t treat someone else that way, then why on earth would you treat yourself that way? Give yourself some compassion. We are all human, we all mess up. Learn to forgive yourself and move on with your life! Work every day to make yourself a better person and for crying out loud, stop comparing yourself to others! You are uniquely you and you were put on this planet to be your own individual person!
Social media constantly has us comparing our lives to others. What we all need to remember is that social media is a highlight real and nobody is only posting the mundane or rough parts of their lives. The best thing you can do for yourself is to distance yourself from social media and only allow yourself to look at it sparingly. You will soon learn that there is so much good going on in your own life, even if that looks like getting to eat a delivery Domino’s pizza on a Friday night! Make it fun by eating it on a blanket on the floor in front of a fun movie like we did when I was a kid!
Be unapologetically yourself. You are unique, you are special, and you were put here for a reason! Show up and smile and know that you are LOVED!
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