How is your life going? If you don’t like the direction you find yourself traveling, only you can change your course. But how can you best do so?
Living your best life requires you to examine what matters to you. It also entails taking care of your physical and mental health so that you have the energy to go over your dreams. Here are ten tips to help you navigate the bewildering seas of self-improvement.
1. Start Each Day With Intention
Do you start each day with a firm idea of what you hope to accomplish during the coming 16 hours or wake up and muddle through your day? You will supercharge your productivity without feeling additional stress or overwhelm if you set intentions.
Unlike goals, intentions focus on what you can accomplish in the present — which can help you reach your future objectives. You might intend to show acts of kindness one day, and this overlying purpose will colour decisions like whether to help a colleague or give your spare change to a panhandler.
2. Identify Your Avoidance Behaviours
Your physiology came equipped with two responses to external stimuli — fight or flight. However, when faced with modern stressors like a micromanaging boss, your automatic reactions can result in self-defeating behaviours. You see this phenomenon when people sigh, “I need a drink” after a trying day. They seek to escape.
However, when you continually seek out activities to numb your emotions, this avoidance behaviour can have severe consequences. If you throw yourself into work to avoid marital problems, your spouse may interpret your absence as a lack of caring and pack their bags anyway. Seeking relief in an alcohol or pill bottle can result in car accidents, hangovers and lost jobs. By identifying what triggers these reactions, you can make healthier choices in managing stress.
3. Tackle Your Finances
According to research by Northwestern Mutual, money matters stress out more Americans than relationship or workplace woes. If you are one of many panicked due to the economic downturn, use it as motivation to take charge of your finances. Make a budget and identify ways you can decrease expenses and increase savings. Then, start that side hustle or begin clipping those coupons.
4. Set SMART Goals
SMART goals are specific and measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Saying, “I hope to run a marathon someday,” won’t help you cross the finish line. However, making a training schedule and lacing up your running shoes will.
Identify one goal you’d like to achieve in each area of your life. Then, plot a course to get there that challenges you without setting you up for failure — like trying to lose ten pounds in one week.
5. Eat Healthfully
Your food influences your physical health, but it can impact your mood, too. In 1905, most Americans consumed 400 milligrams of magnesium daily due to whole grains, and only 1% of those under 75 reported depression. Depression rates spiked to 6% when white bread became the norm — processing the flour strips it of nutrients.
Strive to eat a diet based around whole foods close to their natural form. Reduce your consumption of processed products and additives like sugar and salt. Try it for a week and see how you feel.
6. Move Your Body
Exercise is one of the most worthwhile activities because it benefits your body and mind. Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. It also improves your self-esteem and gets your endorphins flowing, which provides a natural sense of happiness.
7. Learn Something New
Are you a lifelong learner? If you have a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s, you might want to start studying a foreign language or mastering the ukulele. Research indicates that learning a new skill can help improve cognitive functioning as you age. You’ll be one savvy grandparent someday.
8. Cultivate a Hobby
What do you do in your spare time? If you find yourself bored frequently, you might feel tempted to turn to unhealthy habits like drinking. Instead, cultivate a healthy hobby, like working in your garden or building model airplanes. You keep yourself busy and could potentially identify an additional income stream.
9. Practice Random Acts of Kindness
You may have heard the saying, “When you give, you get back twice as much.” There is truth to this folk wisdom that extends beyond having a friend return the favour after you helped them move. Assisting others triggers the mesolimbic system of your brain and releases a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin. These two neurotransmitters increase your sense of wellbeing.
The next time you have a terrible day, try donating money to a beloved cause or picking up litter on your evening stroll. Performing this random act of kindness should boost your mood.
10. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Have you ever snapped at a loved one when you were tired? Nearly everyone has — but a lack of sleep can also damage your physical health. You could cause an accident while at the wheel or make a mistake at work that threatens your employment. To practice positive sleep hygiene, adhere to a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time daily. If you find yourself tired during the day, it’s okay to take a 30-minute nap.
Live and Love Your Best Life Today and Always
If you want to live your best life, you need to tend to your physical and mental health. You also must identify your purpose for living and align your behaviour with that inner truth.