Daily habits for a balanced life
If you have resolved to try and live a more balanced life, with greater emphasis on taking care of yourself, then you need to focus on instilling a few new habits.
Living a balanced life is not impossible. It is not easy either. Living in balance means to live in constant motion, ready to change and adapt as your circumstances and responsibilities change. If you do not, you stand the chance of being swept along by the stream of daily life, with no safety anchor or lifeboat. Since that is not the most favourable of situations to find yourself in, commit to creating a few healthy habits that will help you navigate the stormy waters of life into the calm port of balance.
Why the emphasis on balance?
Living a balanced life is essential to be fulfilled and motivated every day. Balance not only between your responsibilities but also between your internal and external needs; what you expect of yourself and what others expect of you; what you need and what you want; and what you want in the right quantities. Nothing in excess. Everything just right. Balance doesn’t mean denying yourself, it simply means tuning into what your body, mind and soul needs and desire, then giving yourself that without falling off the other side. If you do give in to excess, returning to a state of balance afterwards becomes easier since you balanced on a sturdy foundation. This becomes even easier when you have a few healthy habits to fall back on.
Healthy habits to help you achieve and maintain balance in your life
By making your bed every morning you start your day already with one accomplishment. It might seem like a small gesture, but a victory remains a victory no matter how small, and starting with a victory sets the tone for the rest of your day. Even if you are one of those people who like to get back into bed, or who works on their bed, make your bed.
When we pray or meditate, an area of our brain that is associated with positive emotions and experiences get activated. This is extremely helpful to feel well and live a happy satisfying life by eliminating negative thoughts, anxieties, and every day worries. Research suggests the ideal time to to do this is first thing in the morning.
One simple, practical and cheap way to process your emotions, gain insight and clear your head is through journaling. It is particularly good for freeing yourself from self-limiting beliefs and thoughts, healing emotional pain, finding new meaning and purpose and supporting spiritual growth. Writing in a journal daily can improve your mood and give you a greater sense of overall emotional well-being and happiness, not to mention purpose.
Moving your body gets your heart beating and your blood flowing. By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish the body’s cells and keep them vital. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin, brain and other systems. Regularly moving helps you to think more clearly, be more productive, have more energy and feel better. Even if you opt for low impact and slower exercise regimes like yoga or walking you will reap the benefits.
Reading is important because it develops the mind. When you read and read often, you stimulate your mind, reduce stress, increase your knowledge, expand your vocabulary, improve your memory, strengthen your analytical skills, improve your focus and concentration and improve your writing skills.
Creativity, whether that is dancing, painting, writing, singing or anything else that allows you to create with free abandon, helps you become a better problem solver as it helps you to see the world differently. Some might say being creative allows you to see the world the way you wish it was, and then give you the mental capacity to know how to change the world into that which you wish for. Studies have shown that creative people are better at functioning under uncertainty as they are skilled in changing their thinking to allow for the unknown.
Studies have shown that there is a direct link between what you eat and your mood, your energy levels, your concentration and focus and your memory. When you feel your life is going off the rails, tighten the reigns on your diet. Increase your intake of green leafy veg, healthy fats, good protein and comforting meals such as soups and stews. This will allow you to feel better, giving you the energy to tackle the imbalance.
Studies have shown that gratitude disconnects us from toxic, negative emotions and the ruminating that often accompanies them. Having a gratitude practice or journal allows us to shift our attention so that our focus is on positive emotions. Expressing gratitude helps us even if we don't explicitly share it with someone. Start a gratitude journal to keep track of all the good in your life.
Taking time for yourself is not a selfish thing. It is one of the most selfless things that you can do, because by focusing on yourself for a short time allows you to better focus on other people. Taking time for yourself is one of the best ways to allow self-care into your life. Self-care is knowing who you are, and what you need to ensure your tank is full. That tank includes your emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual and social sides. All of these aspects must be balanced and feed, often, to ensure that you live instead of merely exist, that you thrive instead of surviving.
Drinking enough water is not only necessary for your body to function (all systems need water to function optimally) but also for your mind to be at its sharpest and focussed best. Being hydrated makes you more productive, gives you more energy, can counter that midday slump and gives you a reason to move – to go to the bathroom. Just like you should increase your nutrition when you feel out of balance, you should equally increase your fluid intake. That can be in the form of herbal teas, unsweetened sparkling water or even coffee.
Having a connection with nature is beneficial for the well-being of both humans and the natural world. Studies show that being in nature or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, anxiety and stress. It can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones. Spending time in nature thus helps people feel happier and more connected, and being both happy and connected makes people feel healthier.
Learning is essential to our existence. Just like food nourishes our bodies, information and continued learning nourishes our minds. When we learn or improve on our existing knowledge or skills, our brain chemistry changes. This allows us to learn faster in the future. Learning also fights boredom, making you a more interesting person who adapts to change easier.
In today’s mostly online world it can become very easy to become isolated with one's thoughts and feelings. Connecting with others can offer objective feedback and support as well as provide the human connection. Studies have shown that people who feel connected to their friends and family have lower levels of anxiety and stress, and this connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.
Family is important because of our mental growth, well-being, and stability all depend on our family. A family makes all its members feel safe and connected, and that provides the love, support and framework of values needed to structure your own life. Constitutive of a happy and satisfied life is living in the presence of those we love, and being fully present when we spend time with them. When you feel your life is out of whack, go back to your roots.
These are my 14 best habits to create if you want to live a balanced life. If you have any others to add, please leave a comment!