5 Key Habits for Greater Happiness, Health, Energy, Productivity & Peace of Mind
One of the best ways we can create and sustain happiness is by maintaining habits and behaviours that support health, wellbeing and the way we want to live. It’s been shown that at least 40% of the things we do are determined by habit rather than conscious decision. Translation: we are on autopilot almost half the time! Given this fact, it’s in our best interest to be intentional about building many beneficial habits so these unconscious behaviours work in our favour to get us where we want to be.
Some habits have a greater influence on our happiness and wellbeing than others. There are foundational behaviours that have wide-reaching effects on many aspects of our bodies, minds and lives and can even have crossover and trickle-down effects on other habits and actions. For example, when we improve our sleep habits, not only do we improve our physical and mental functioning, but we have more energy and focus to pursue goals, are less likely to overeat and more likely to be active.
Here are five key habits that have a powerful positive effect on happiness, health, energy, productivity and peace of mind.
1. Follow a Morning Routine
Often the morning period, before work and life commitments kick in, is the time we can most reliably plan and have control over.
Start your day strong and establish a morning routine that incorporates energizing activities, like exercise, time outdoors, meditation and intention setting, and also reflective practices such as journaling, gratitude and prayer. This might also be when you carve out time to pursue activities you love, like practicing an instrument, writing, learning a new skill or artistic projects.
Download this free Happy, Healthy Morning & Bedtime Routine Builder to help you create (or refresh) a morning routine to kick off your day and establish a solid bedtime routine while you’re at it.
2. Focus on Your Breath
Developing an ability to be more mindful allows us to notice the present moment and our own internal experience. It can be very difficult to stay in the present moment and focusing on your breath is a simple and effective way to help do this.
By regulating your breath, you can shift your physical, emotional and psychological states. Slow rhythmic breathing – particularly where the out breath is longer than the in breath – counters stress and anxiety and puts you in a more open and receptive state to take in the positive things around you. Here are some breathing tips and practices to help you become more aware of your breathing and harness it for optimal mind and body benefits.
3. Move More Throughout the Day
Most of us spend much of the day sitting down, be that at a desk, in the car, at the table or on the couch. So even if we have a daily exercise routine, our bodies may be in a static seated position for prolonged periods each and every day.
Physical activity has immediate positive effects on mood and stress levels as well as long-term benefits to mental and physical health. Given all the advantages, we should think of it not just as a fitness practice that we need to make time for, but as an ongoing tool for self-care and wellbeing.
By building certain routines and daily practices into your days, you can make movement happen almost automatically without even thinking about it. The bottom line: sit less and move more. Take a look at these 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for more direction on what a healthy day of movement looks like for most adults.
4. Reflect Through Journaling
Reflection is a valuable practice as it helps us develop more awareness of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours and start to identify where we can make shifts to create more happiness. The first step is to create time and space to check in with yourself and practice being mindful of your current state and experience.
Writing or journaling is an excellent tool for reflection that can help you uncover and better understand different aspects of yourself. It enables you to identify, clarify and understand your thoughts and feelings. If you’re stuck on what to write about, these journaling prompts can help get your thoughts rolling and the words flowing.
5. Keep a Bedtime
Getting sufficient, quality sleep is essential for physical and mental health. For most adults, this means 7-9 hours a night. When we’re sleep deprived, we’re not able to do all the things we need or want to do, not well anyway. And it’s certainly more difficult to feel happy.
Schedule a bedtime and treat is as a hard stop for the night. Figure out how much sleep you need to feel good. Then work back 7+ hours from your wake-up time and start getting ready for bed at least 20-30 minutes before you want your head on the pillow. Try setting a bedtime alarm if you need a reminder to shut down for the night. If you have difficulty sleeping or want to improve the quality of your sleep, take a look at your sleep hygiene practices and try following these healthy sleep habits.
Success Strategies for Building Habits
Here are a few tips for maximizing your success in creating and maintaining habits.
Start small. To keep it manageable, focus on one or two new habits at a time and keep them small and easy to perform, particularly in the beginning. Add on as the habit(s) becomes established.
Look for opportunities to piggyback a new habit on something you’re already reliably doing. Spend a few moments mindfully breathing while waiting for the water to boil or a meeting to start. Extend your morning walk while you’re out with the dog. Write in your journal while you have your morning coffee or evening tea.
Set yourself up for success. Prepare in advance and set up your environment to make your habits as easy as possible to execute. Keep a journal by your bed. Set out workout clothes and shoes the night before. Put your phone on do not disturb and store it out of reach at a set time each day.
Track and monitor your progress. Use some form of a habit tracker to log your progress and help keep yourself accountable. Track your habit for a few weeks and celebrate your wins along the way. Show yourself self-compassion for any slip-ups or set-backs and keep at it. :)
There are a number resources out there to learn about and get guidance and support on developing behaviours, habits and routines to support happiness and wellbeing. Please reach out if you have questions or would like to learn more!
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