While many Americans think of ways to improve their lifestyle, it’s easy to focus on added activities or new things to buy. With numerous advertisements and messages bombarding us each day, it is easy to believe that buying a helpful organizational tool will solve our problems, for example. However, the first step to truly improving lifestyle is to prune, and then simplify what is currently operating in our lives.
For instance, when I became overwhelmed with my lifestyle a few years ago, I realized the need to begin making small cutbacks. I stopped inviting friends over for dinner for a season; I stayed away from my favorite stores to wean myself from buying knick-knacks there was no space for, and so on. By first cutting back on areas that became causes of stress, I was able to simplify my daily life and receive a fresh perspective on what brought me joy.
Likewise, wherever you are, reevaluating your current lifestyle with these five tips on what habits to drop is a great way to simplify daily living.
1) Abusive Sleep Patterns—If you are not getting adequate sleep (remember, everyone is different; you have to figure out what amount of sleep your body needs) or oversleeping, it is time to commit to a healthy slumber cycle. Just as babies and toddlers require different amounts of sleep, depending on the child, so do adults. One person may function wonderfully with six or seven hours of sleep while another feels completely drained without eight or nine.
It is important to discern what works best for you. When you wake up in the morning, aim for a time when you feel slightly awake. If you wait too long and oversleep, then you may feel more comfortable than you did earlier, but very tired. At that point, it will be harder to “get going” physically and mentally. In addition, you may find that those are the days that end up feeling more challenging than others.
2) Procrastinating—We have all been guilty of procrastinating at some time or another, whether it’s pushing back an important project at work or ignoring chores around the house. What we may not realize immediately is how badly this terrible habit affects everyday life. When we procrastinate, inner fear fosters, leading us to believe that things are worse than they really are.
A good way to face a task you are procrastinating is to first admit what you are doing and why. Name out your fears. What is the worst thing that could happen? Then ask yourself how you would feel if you put the task off another week. Horrible? If that is your answer, then you know it is in your best interest to take a small step today. Right now. Any baby step will suffice because after you reach the minute goal, you will experience slightly increased motivation to continue working.
Have you ever heard that “a body in rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion, unless the body is compelled to change its state”? Newton’s laws of motion tell us much about how we operate in everyday life. Procrastination easily continues when we choose to remain inactive and think about how we do not want to do a particular job. Yet, when we consciously choose to get started, no matter how insignificant the baby step seems, then we find it is less complicated to stay in motion and keep going.
3) Confusing Work & Home Life—One of the best pieces of advice I continually receive from parents and non-parents alike is: “When you are home, really be at home…” It is so easy to try and multi-task work at the house, but unless your job actually calls for it, there is no point in confusing the two worlds.
By defining your work and home boundaries clearly, you are doing not only your family a huge favor, but yourself as well. It will become easier to switch from home and family to work mode once you grasp the acute influence this transition makes.
4) Lack of Nutrition/Exercise—Full-time work can make anyone feel like they are too tired to workout and eat right. You have to decide how important a healthy lifestyle is for you first. Take small steps. Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, such as oatmeal and fruit, to start the day off right. Statistics show that it is easier to make healthy meal choices if breakfast started off on the right foot.
Next, start moving more. Whether you arrive at work ten minutes early to walk the parking lot or wake up an hour before to go for a run, the point is to stay in motion—no matter how small or large the workout feat may seem. In addition, research has proven that regular exercise not only makes people healthier, but it allows them to feel the difference also. Working out releases endorphins and chemicals in the brain, which make everyone feel happier. So, who wouldn’t want to exercise?
5) Giving Up on Personal Goals—Work, home, chores, eat, sleep, and do it all again tomorrow. Does this sound familiar? Probably all too well, but it is time to drop the habit of ignoring personal goals and dreams. You may be thinking, “That is not a habit, that is a choice you make.” Yes, it is a choice we make—to pursue dreams and goals or not. However, we must remember that at any point we can pick them up again if we have ignored them for a while. And move forward from there.
It could be something as simple as wanting to learn a new language or pick up karate. Make a list of the things you’ve always wanted to do and haven’t made time for, and then pick at least one choice to pursue. By taking action and making time for a new interest or goal, you will feel a new sense of energy and accomplishment.