People can change. One of the ways to change for the better is to adopt good habits and do it everyday. Many people underestimate the effectiveness of habits–especially small ones–in changing our lives in the long run. However, these behaviours can make a huge difference in how our life will unfold in the years to come.
The following are 7 small habits that you can incorporate into your daily routine–they can be small behavior improvement but they can greatly impact your life.
The recent health crisis made us evaluate the way we live. Particularly, it made us more conscious of what we eat. Eating healthy food is now highlighted more than ever as a form of prevention. As the restaurants closed, we found ourselves cooking more and we become more conscious of the ingredients we use.
We may want to take notes on how eating healthy is done in Japan. A traditional Japanese diet is well balanced, featuring more fish than red meat, plenty of vegetables, pickled and fermented foods, and small portions of rice. The Japanese diet is low in calories and extremely nutritious.
Because of the still ongoing COVID pandemic, many people are taking a closer look at their lifestyle. Being physically fit means we can ward off diseases that may cause complications if ever we get infected.
There is no need to buy those fancy gym equipment to exercise, just making sure that you include more physical activity in your everyday routine is enough. One of the secrets of Okinawans for long life is they move more like doing radio taiso (light exercise) every morning, tending on their garden, or taking long walks.
Write things down
You should write things down everyday whether it is a shopping list, a note for a family member or friend, or a diary entry. Although many of us now use our mobile phones and laptops to do the job, there’s just something magical in manually writing things down. Jotting down notes improves memory, making it easier for you to recall things buried in your brain.
Writing less important stuff clears space in your mind for more important topics. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, suggested a technique called “morning pages,” or writing several pages of anything that is on your mind as a way to clear your head. Doing this first thing in the morning will help you prepare for the day ahead. One way of practising this is using a daily planner to list your goals and tasks to achieve them. Planning ahead will make you more efficient.
Spare a few minutes to meditate daily and enjoy its benefits. We are subjected to stress everyday either from our work or home life. Stress activates our fight-or-flight response and increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. One way to alleviate stress is through meditation. Research on the subject found that those who practice meditation regularly has lower cortisol level in their brain.
When you meditate, you are becoming mindful of your surroundings and you reach that “flow” state where your mind is in complete harmony with body. Studies proved that people who meditate regularly are more focused and has longer attention span compared to those who don’t meditate at all.
Check-in with yourself
A self-check-in is a healthy daily habit you should adopt. How do you do this? It is by simply tuning in to your feelings or emotions. How does something make you feel? Think of emotional check-ins as daily “micro-introspections.”
Recognising how your body is feeling allows you to notice patterns in how you respond to certain stimuli. For example, high heart rate, sweaty palms and stuttering could be symptoms of anxiety. When you became aware of the symptoms, you can calm yourself by breathing deeply.
One way to do a self-check-in is to reflect on your day. How do you feel about your day overall? How can it be better?
Setting goals and breaking them down
For everything you do, it’s a good idea to set clear goals since it can help motivate you and trigger new behaviours that will sustain your momentum in life. For example, you feel more decisive when you have a life goal in mind than by just living without any particular objective at all. Goals help you focus and live efficiently. Accomplishing the goal can lead to satisfaction and further motivation.
How do you set goals effectively? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and with a Time Frame. For example, “lose weight” and “lose 22 pounds in the next 6 months” are both goals but the latter is clearer–it’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and set with a specific time frame. Moreover, it is easier to break it down into action steps or tasks that will lead to the achievement of the goals.
Lastly, you should make it a habit to treat yourself. Sometimes you’re praised for something you did well. But sometimes no matter how hard you work your efforts are just unnoticed by other people. You must not depend on these external validations. External validations will make you a slave of other people’s opinions. And they’re too unreliable as a measure of your efforts anyway.
Instead, it’s important that you can recognise your good points yourself and do self-validation. Taking care of yourself and treating yourself whenever you feel you earned can boost your morale and motivation like no other person can. It is also a great way to improve your mental health and be happier.
Treating yourself could be little things that you love like eating your favourite dessert or watching a movie on your day off. Relaxation can produce a lot of great effects on the body, including lowered blood pressure, reduced muscle tension and pain, and improved concentration and mood. Resting is also part of being efficient.
Some Tips Before You Start
We’ve discussed some small habits that you could immediately try for yourself. But before you do there is some things that you need to know and do in order for habits to really stick in your daily routine. As explained in details in BJ Fogg‘s ground breaking book, Tiny Habits, you’ll need the following recipes when you’re nurturing new habits:
- Your habit should be easy enough so that you’ll have no excuse not to do them and it is easy to squeeze in your daily routine. For example, if you want to make it a habit to read everyday, you can work on a small habit to read at least one paragraph each day.
- You’ll need a prompt or a signal when you will do the tasks. For example, the prompt could be after brushing your teeth in the evening just before going to bed. What’s important is that the prompt is specific and that it’s already an established routine that fits with your small habit goals.
- However, for a habit to really stick, you’ll need some form of reward or emotional boost to lock in the habit in your mind. Tracking your small habits daily is one way to do this since seeing chain of x’s in your habit tracker will give you an emotional boost(makes you proud) that you’re moving forward.
Ikigai Notes is a no-nonsense planner that will help you develop and track good habits that you want to integrate into your life. Ikigai Notes has a habit tracker that not only tracks habit execution but also encourages you to create an easy version of the habit you want to develop and clearly state the prompt and rewards for each habit you’re working on. It’s a nifty tool for those who are serious about habit-building.