Suit up with this constellation of small daily habits that take absolutely no extra time and yet can have profound effects on your body and mind!
I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of the general messaging “out there” that tells me to work harder!Start meditating! Learn a new language! Go to the gym! Quit when you’re dead! Blah, blah, blah…
I’m sorry but I don’t have an hour to meditate in the morning; I’d rather read in bed than spend my evenings learning a new language; and I sure as sh*t ain’t gonna sacrifice my Sundays to boil a week’s worth of broccoli so I can lose 30 pounds and look like a skeleton gift-wrapped in skin.
But, thankfully, that’s not what this guide’s about. It’s not about adding to your to-do list. It’s about the small life-changing habits you can start today that don’t add a single second of time to your daily schedule, yet pay huge dividends in the way you think, feel and even look; although, hot damn, you’re already gorgeous!
It’s about taking the time you already spend—studying, working, working out, driving, in transit, cooking, and doing housework—and making it count. How? With these simple daily habits to improve your life (without demands on your time) …
Daily habits to improve life while brushing your teeth
Think about it: this essential routine accounts for at least four minutes of your day, assuming you spend the recommended two minutes brushing, twice per day. That’s 28 minutes every week and two hours per month, which could be spent doing something other than just staring idly at yourself in the mirror. So, here are some of the best daily habits you can add to your tooth-brushing routine:
Hold a deep squat
Squats are hard for a reason but if you can take the punishment, the rewards are stronger, more shapely quads, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as improved balance and mobility. In fact, squats are like the “superfood” of exercise: they do your whole body a whole lot of good!
Plan your daily goals (and other mental admin)
People typically brush their teeth at the perfect time of day to either plan for the day ahead or process the day they just had. So why not do that? Gathering your thoughts and thinking through your daily goals—either for this day or the next—is a great way to center yourself. So, here are some questions you might answer while brushing your teeth:
What are my intentions for the day?
What are three things I’m looking forward to?
What’s the hardest thing I need to get done today?
What are my steps for getting it done?
What are some of the other important things I need to accomplish?
There is actually solid scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of gratitude; not to mention its efficacy in combating anxiety and depression. In other words, practicing gratitude is not some touchy-feely Oprah flim-flam. So, while you brush your teeth, think of three things—big or small—that you’re grateful for.
Brushing your teeth is the “anchor habit” that reminds to do things like holding a deep squat or practice gratitude. And this is an important concept in habit-building so to learn more about that, check out our article 'How to build strong study habits', which can be applied to any area of life, really!
The best daily habits to do while taking a shower
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average shower lasts 8 minutes, which sounds really short. I mean, did they survey people with long hair at all? So, anyway, let’s call it 10. That’s 70 minutes per week and FIVE HOURS per month. And here’s what you can do with those five hours...
Make the shower cold. Like, freezing cold.
Sure, it might not feel enjoyable (at first) but there’s very real scientific support for the benefits of dousing yourself in icy water every morning:
Cold showers can boost:
Alertness and make you feel invigorated (no surprises there)
Your body’s metabolism
Your mood and mental resilience, which is great for well-being
Also, meet me in my natural habitat (talking about how to build habits):
Other small life-changing habits for the shower
Similar to when you brush your teeth, here are some of the best daily habits for the shower, rather than deafening your housemates with your singing ...
Think of three things you’re grateful for (practice gratitude)
Speak aloud your plan for the day
Practice a hard conversation you need to have
Chant a favorite mantra, for example: I am enough; I am imperturbable; I will have a good day, because it's my choice; hey, who moved my shampoo? Every cell in my body is alive and beautiful.
Personal hack: I listen to podcasts while I’m in the shower. But I try to keep them intelligent so that I’m actually expanding my horizons and maybe even learning something new.
Small life-changing habits to build while waiting (for someone or the bus / train, etc.)
Look at anyone at a bus stop, in the subway, or in a doctor’s waiting room. They’re on their phones, right? Probably trolling through social media. But you can put that time to much better use with these small life-changing habits ...
Run through a few stretches
No-one’s going to bat an eye at you if you use a bench to stretch your hamstrings or lean against a wall while you stretch your quads. In any case, have you BEEN in a big-city bus, train, or subway station before? Forget trance parties, some of the weirdest exhibitions of human behaviour I’ve ever witnessed happened in the New York subway.
Do gentle exercises
Do toe lifts to make those calf muscles pop or hand exercises like rotating your wrists and stretching your fingers as wide as they go. The latter is useful for anyone who spends six hours plus per day working on a computer, which is, like, EVERYBODY nowadays.
You can also do kegel exercises—just don’t smile while you’re doing it: that’s creepy—which can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This, in turn, supports bladder, bowel, and sexual function, preventing you from becoming an incontinent, impotent mess in your older years. Yay!
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