When your life is centered around anxiety and riddled with stress, it’s crucial to keep your self-care in check. The results may be immediate. Or they may require patience. But you mustn’t give in and you mustn’t give up.
Below are 6 daily habits to keep you on the right path.
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I am not a doctor, therapist or professional of any sort. I offer my personal opinions and experiences. Always consult your doctor or the appropriate professional.
A habit becomes a habit when you stop thinking so much about it. It’s when it becomes part of your daily life, and something you need to do, that you’ve gotten there. And guess what? When that habit you’re implementing is good, the impact on your well-being is nothing short of fantastic. A good habit make things easier and healthier with an overall positive impact on your life.
But why, oh why, are good habits so hard to form?
We like immediate results. Instant gratification. But good things come to those who wait, amiright?
It’s not uncommon for us humans to get excited and motivated about an end goal, but lack a plan to get there. Remember, goals and habits are similar, yet very different.
A goal is defined as the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. In other words, the thing your habits will help you achieve.
A habit is defined as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. It’s the building blocks to that end goal you’re aiming for.
Know your end goal. But instead of making your focus on said goal, focus on the baby steps – the habits – needed to get there. Figure out how you’re going to get there.
Remember, habits don’t start out as habits.
Research says it takes, on average, over 2 months of dedication for a behavior to become automatic. This is somewhat dependent on a person’s individual psychology – some might develop a habit in less time, others may need far more time. (I’m definitely in the “far more” time group).
Do you want to lose 20 pounds? Great, but you won’t just get there with simply a goal. What are the habits necessary for your success?
Some habits to get to a weight loss goal might include: eat veggies with every meal. Plan your meals and snacks so that a veggie is in each. Prepare a shopping list with the veggies you’ll need.
You won’t be able to lose 20 pounds without forming some habits to get you there.
Know that some days will be easy. Some days will be hard. You’re human. So don’t get discouraged and remember that tomorrow is a fresh new day. Heck, don’t even wait until tomorrow. Now is a new hour. A new minute.
Because just about everything in my life centers around managing my anxiety, and probably yours too if you’re here, let’s talk about 6 daily habits that, while good for everyone, are truly essential for anxiety sufferers.
6 Daily Habits to De-stress Your Life
1. Plan your day
There is a different between being busy and being productive. There are multiple ways to go about this including: a calendar, lists, apps, a bullet journal.
Whatever works for you is great, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
- make sure you write (or type) it down.
- start with your most important tasks first, before fatigue or boredom sets in.
- bonus, early productivity is motivating, thus you’re even more productive.
- schedule in breaks.
If you’re looking at a calendar or time format, try
- starting with your essential tasks, like appointments and activities with a fixed time.
- next fill in your high value activities, those that are most important.
- again, build in time for breaks and meals.
- expect the unexpected.
Why is planing your day helpful? Because, when you manage your time, you manage your stress!
- Greater productivity.
- Fewer mistakes, less rework.
- Greater organization.
- Clearer work-life balance.
- More free time!
Time management shouldn’t take time, but rather make extra time for you. – Unknown
How do you make this a habit? Keep a calendar. Make a list. Start a bullet journal – whatever method works for you. And once a week, write down what’s going on for the upcoming week. Then each night, dedicate a few minutes each night planning tomorrow in further detail.
As tough as it can sometimes be, get up and move. Any activity is better than none, however, if you want my words of wisdom – you are capable of WAAAAAY more than you give yourself credit for. Your mind will quit before body does.
Wow, I really regret that workout. – No one. Ever.
So aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. Or 75 minutes of vigorous. A combo of both is fine too. And don’t forget to add in strength training twice a week.
Do you need to be reminded of the many benefits of regular exercise? Well…I’m not giving you a choice…
- Improves your cognitive abilities, keeps your mind fresh.
- Boosts your mood.
- Aids in weight control.
- Promotes better sleep.
- Improves your sex life.
- Slows aging.
- Preserves your muscle tone.
- Boosts your immune system.
- Boosts your HDL (good cholesterol).
How do you make this a habit? Schedule it! See habit #1 for more on that…wink, wink.
That’s really the ONLY way I’m able to make any semblance of workout routine. My work out time is immediately after work. So I pack my gym bag the night before so it’s ready in the morning. Sometimes I even wear my plain black work out leggings under my tunic and boots – thank you casual work environment! My lunch bag includes a pre-workout snack (banana) and I let my family know that’s it’s a work out day and I’ll be home an hour later.
If I don’t do this, I will take advantage of every excuse in the book to skip the gym. Even though I KNOW I have never, ever – not even once – regretted going to the gym.
3. Water intake
Trivia time! Did you know our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water? Wow, no wonder we hear so much about getting enough of it.
There are varying recommendations out there for how much water to drink a day, but my go-to formula is half your body weight in ounces.
So, if I weight 158 pounds (um, this may or may not be true), I should drink 79 ounces of water. That’s almost 10 full 8 ounce glasses of water.
So why should you stay hydrated?
- May increase metabolism.
- May reduce appetite.
- Reduces constipation.
- Reduces likelihood of kidney stones.
- Aids in headache relief (if my husband or kids mention a headache, I always tells them to drink a glass of water first).
- And it can reduce anxiety symptoms. Dehydration can cause a faster heart rate and lightheadedness – these are NOT things an anxious person wants to feel!
Coffee and tea can be included in your water intake, so long as they are unsweetened. Sugary drinks, as well as artificially sugared drinks, aren’t what you want here.
But really, you do want a reusable water bottle so you always have drink on hand. A swig here and a swallow there adds up! And bonus – it saves you from buying a drink when you’re out and about.
4. Healthy diet
You know what they say – “You are what you eat.” Well, it’s true my friends.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Avoid added sugars, artificial sugars and processed foods.
- Soda is bad. Diet soda is worse.
- Do eat whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats.
- Fat is not the enemy, added sugar and fake foods are.
- Eat the rainbow.
- Read the ingredients, you can’t always trust the claims.
I know that when avoid sugars and excessive gluten, I feel so much better. But not gonna lie – I love sugar and gluten. So if you’re anything like me, it’s tough. So…
How can you make this a habit? Plan, prepare and prep. Plan your dinners. Prep your lunches. Prepare your shopping lists. Without a plan, grabbing something quick and unhealthy becomes much more likely.
5. Get adequate sleep
It’s well known that you should get 8 hours of sleep, but that’s not always the case for everyone. How much sleep do you need to feel productive, healthy and happy? Do you have any health issues that should be taken into account? Any sleep problems?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleeps needs average 7-10 hours a night.
- Teens (14-17) need 8-10 hours.
- Young Adults (18-25) need 7-9.
- Adults (26-64) need 7-9.
- Older adults (65+) need 7-8 hours.
Getting adequate, quality sleep can seem like something out of your control. I get it, you can’t force yourself to fall asleep, but you can set yourself up for a better night’s rest. Try these:
- Exercise daily.
- Make sure the lighting and temperature in your bedroom is condusive to sleep.
- Limit noise…or put on white noise, depending on your preference.
- Watch your caffeine intake too close to bedtime.
- Limit your alcohol.
- Turn off electronics. Ahem, put down that phone (guilty as charged).
How do you turn this into a habit for a good night’s sleep? Go to bed at the same time each night. Plan your day ahead of time (see habit #1 again) so that you are able to make this happen.
This is always a struggle for me. I refuse to medications to help me sleep, but have found diffusing relaxing oils to be helpful. As is reading a book before bed. Listening to a guided meditation has also been successful during some of my toughest nights.
6. Mindful moments
To be mindful, you focus your awareness on the present moment. Take a moment to focus on you – your body – not the outside world.
- Notice a physical sensation you feel.
- Acknowledge it, then move on with your thoughts.
- Do you feel something else? That’s ok, acknowledge, maybe name it, then move on.
Taking the time to be mindful has a number of benefits relating to health, happiness, work and your relationships, including:
- reduces anxious thoughts and feelings.
- improves cognitive abilities via an increase in brain grey matter.
- positive impact on relationships.
- better sleep.
- provides a better perspective on the present.
- lowers stress levels.
- can banish, if only temporary, negative feelings.
- manages chronic pain.
- aids in weight loss.
- provides a method to control your temper.
- better sex.
- improves listening skills.
The great thing about this – ANYONE CAN DO IT! There’s no special equipment or minimum time required. You can do it anywhere, anytime.
How do you make this a habit? Start simple. Plan for just 30 seconds to start with if it makes you feel a little uncomfortable. Aim for first thing in the morning, or maybe at your lunch hour. Before bed is a great time as it can settle your mind for a good night’s sleep.
Mindful moments are a great way to learn about yourself. It’s taking a moment to be selfish, if you will, and focus on nothing but you. After all, you deserve it!
You might also be interested in: How to Begin a Self-Care Routine.