After waking up, or anytime during your day…
Finding a quiet, private, comfortable place and position, and spending some time in silence. Not doing anything, just observing your internal experience in that silence of that moment. Allowing any thoughts, emotions, sensations, images, memories to appear and disappear, not following them. Breathing in a rhythmic but natural pattern. Conduct a body scan of your physical somatic experiences, how do the thoughts and emotions that arise manifest in your body?
Repeat several positive, motivational, inspirational, affirmations to yourself, verbalizing your self-compassion, talk kindly about yourself, and to yourself. For example, “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be at peace.” Or, “I am happy, I am healthy, and I am at peace.” You could say, “I am getting stronger, happier, and healthier every day.” You could also say something like, “I am grateful that I live in an abundant universe where all my physiological needs are met.” Even if a part of you resists, reassure that part the work is important. Let all of the parts of your Psyche know that you appreciate that they have a positive intent for you.
Guided Imagery or Visualization
Close your eyes, and visualize a relaxing, safe, and pleasant space to begin this activity. When you are ready, visualize yourself completing a task, finishing a project, or reaching your goals, even if your goal is to file paperwork or clean one room in your house. If you find yourself getting distracted, just bring your awareness back to the original visual. Conduct a body scan to check in with your somatic experience. Gently challenge any preconceived notions, automatic thoughts, or negative core beliefs you may hold onto.
Sit down and write, handwriting or typing. Make a journal entry, create a social media post, or start a short story or novel. Even if it is something as easy as recording the times of the sunrise and sunset, what your mood was like that day, or what you ate for meals. Scientific research has found that handwriting is better for retention and neural pathway reconstruction, but outliers do exist in studies, so do what feels best for you.
Sit down and read. Learn new information, new knowledge, awareness and insight. The goal can be to challenge any existing beliefs that cause cognitive dissonance. The goal can be to reinforce knowledge and beliefs that are important to you. And, the goal could be to just escape and immerse yourself in fantasy, and nurture adventure and novelty. I don’t recommend formal educational materials or the news for this activity.
Get any amount of natural light you can. The further north or south you live in the northern or southern hemispheres, the days get shorter and shorter and then longer and longer throughout cycles of the year. The days can be devoid of light for many days out of the year. There are lighting devices, fixtures, and bulbs that you can buy and use to replace natural light. The light source should be a high Kelvin temperature to simulate the blue tint of daylight. These are sometimes referred to as full-spectrum lighting.
Physical Activity or Exercise
Exercise is a fundamental part of a comprehensive health and wellness plan. It involves activities that get your body moving and elevate your heart rate, improving both your physical and mental health. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of several chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. It can also improve mood, increase energy levels, support better sleep, and promote general wellbeing. Here are the steps to prioritize physical activity over unhealthy distractions or unproductive tasks:
Set Clear Goals: Define what you want to achieve with your exercise regimen. It could be losing weight, building muscle, improving cardiovascular health, or just increasing your overall activity level. Having clear, measurable goals will help motivate you and provide a tangible target to work towards.
Create a Routine: Make a plan and stick to it. Consider your daily schedule and find slots where you can fit in exercise. It could be early morning before work, during your lunch break, or in the evening. Consistency is key to building a habit. Start slow and small. If you’re not used to regular physical activity, it’s okay to start slowly with smaller goals. Even 15-20 minutes a day is a good start. You can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts as you become more fit.
Choose Activities You Enjoy: Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it. This could be anything from walking or running to swimming, cycling, dancing, or team sports.
Eliminate Distractions: Identify what typically distracts you or leads you to choose unproductive tasks over exercise. This might be excessive television watching, social media browsing, or unnecessary napping. Make a conscious effort to reduce these distractions and replace them with exercise.
Create a Supportive Environment: If possible, surround yourself with people who are supportive of your fitness goals. This could be family, friends, or even a fitness class or club. Accountability can be a powerful motivator.
Prioritize You: Remember, exercise is not an extra or optional part of your day. It’s a necessary component of your health and wellbeing, so treat it as such. Consider it an appointment with yourself that you can’t cancel.
Track Your Progress: Keep a record of your workouts, including what you did and how you felt afterwards. Over time, you’ll be able to see your improvements, which can be incredibly motivating.
Find Balance: While it’s important to prioritize exercise, remember to balance it with rest and relaxation. Overdoing it can lead to burnout or injury, so make sure you’re listening to your body and giving it the rest it needs.
Integrate Physical Activity into Your Daily Life: Besides your regular exercise sessions, look for other opportunities to be active during the day. This could be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking or biking to work, or doing some stretching or light exercises during breaks.
Remember, everyone is unique, and what works best for you might not work as well for someone else. Experiment and find an approach that suits you and your lifestyle. It’s not about being perfect, but about making gradual, sustainable changes that improve your health and wellbeing. Get any amount of physical activity or movement you can. Match your ability and physical limitations to the amount of activity. Exercise, strength training, any movement is good movement for your body and mind.
Practice yoga, tai chi, qui gong, and/or martial arts. Yoga combines physical postures (asanas) with breath control and meditation. Design a yoga sequence that suits your level and goals. Include a mix of standing poses, seated stretches, balance poses, and gentle inversions. Pay attention to proper alignment and breathe deeply throughout the practice. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are ancient Chinese practices that promote relaxation, balance, and energy flow. Choose a routine that focuses on gentle flowing movements, deep breathing, and mindfulness. Follow along with instructional videos or consider joining a local class for guidance. If you’re interested in martial arts, dedicate some time to practice techniques, forms, or drills. Choose a style that resonates with you, such as karate, taekwondo, kung fu, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Focus on improving your strength, flexibility, coordination, and discipline while following proper safety precautions. Other mind-body practices include, but are not limited to:
Morning Meditation (10 minutes): Start your day with a calm and focused mind through meditation. Find a quiet space, sit comfortably, and close your eyes. Focus on your breath, allowing thoughts to come and go without judgment. This practice cultivates mindfulness and sets a positive tone for the day ahead.
Walking or Jogging (20 minutes): Engage in a brisk walk or jog to enhance cardiovascular health and promote mental clarity. Choose a scenic route or a peaceful park for a more rejuvenating experience. Pay attention to your surroundings and enjoy the natural beauty while keeping a steady pace.
Mindful Breathing Breaks (Throughout the day): Take several short breaks during your day to practice mindful breathing. Pause for a few moments, close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths. Allow your mind to rest and reset, releasing any tension or stress that may have accumulated.
Evening Stretching and Relaxation (15 minutes): In the evening, wind down with gentle stretching and relaxation exercises. Focus on releasing any tension built up in the body throughout the day. Incorporate deep breathing and mindfulness to help relax your mind and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
Pilates: Incorporate Pilates exercises to improve core strength, flexibility, and body awareness. Join a class or follow instructional videos. Pilates is an effective mind-body practice for health and wellness because it promotes a strong mind-body connection, develops core strength and stability, improves flexibility and range of motion, enhances muscle tone and endurance, supports proper posture and alignment, relieves stress, aids in injury rehabilitation and prevention, and is customizable and accessible to various individuals. By incorporating pilates into your self-care routine, you can experience improved physical and mental well-being.
Dance: Explore various dance styles, such as ballet, contemporary, or hip-hop, to enhance body coordination, rhythm, and self-expression. Dance combines physical movement with artistic expression and can be enjoyed in various forms such as ballet, contemporary, salsa, hip-hop, and many others. Dancing is a fantastic aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping and increases cardiovascular endurance. It raises your heart rate, improves blood circulation, and strengthens the cardiovascular system. Regular dancing can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular health. Dancing engages multiple muscle groups, improving overall fitness and stamina. It builds strength, flexibility, and endurance, as it involves a range of movements, from quick footwork to fluid motions. Regular dancing can enhance your physical performance, increase energy levels, and improve overall body coordination and balance.
Mindful Eating: Practice mindful eating by savoring each bite, paying attention to flavors, textures, and sensations. Eat slowly and be fully present during mealtime. Mindful eating is a powerful tool that can be incorporated into daily mind-body practices to promote overall well-being. It involves paying full attention to the experience of eating, being present in the moment, and cultivating a non-judgmental awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations related to food. Mindful eating brings awareness to the entire eating process, including hunger cues, food choices, and the sensations of eating. By tuning in to your body’s signals, you become more attuned to its needs and can make conscious decisions about what, when, and how much to eat. Mindful eating encourages slower and more deliberate eating. By savoring each bite and fully experiencing the taste, texture, and aroma of the food, you allow your body to properly digest and assimilate nutrients. Chewing food thoroughly also aids in digestion by breaking it down more effectively before it reaches the stomach.
Nature Connection: Spend time in nature regularly. Engage in activities like hiking, gardening, or simply sitting in a peaceful natural setting to reconnect with the earth and find inner calm.
Creative Expression: Engage in creative activities like painting, drawing, writing, or playing a musical instrument. These activities promote self-expression, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.
Care for Your Physical Body
Eat nutritious meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and healthy snacks. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Get enough sleep based on your specific needs and preferences. Maintain a regular practice of sleep hygiene.
If you practice a new skill every day you can develop these new skills into habits, and they become automatic. The new habits will allow you to construct new neural networks in your brain which might help change your default mindset. This might help reduce the symptoms of ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD.
Galla, B. M., & Duckworth, A. L. (2015). More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(3), 508–525.
Norcross, J. C., & Vangarelli, D. J. (1988). The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts. Journal of Substance Abuse, 1, 127–134.
Oliveira, R. (2015, August 25). Change your life – one habit at a time. UC Davis Integrative Medicine Program. Retrieved from http://www.ucdintegrativemedicine.com/2015/08/change-your-life-forever-one-habit-at-a-time/
“The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod
(Life SAVERS acronym) [S]ilence | [A]ffirmations | [V]isualization | [E]xercise | [R]eading | [S]cribing (writing)
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear (dopamine, adrenaline, rewards, action steps)
(SMART goals) [S]pecific | [M]easurable | [A]chievable | [R]ealistic | [T]imed: achieve by a specific date