Tag Archives: good habits

16 Habits of Extremely Healthy People

healthy-life-sign-250x165As we head into cold and flu season, I wonder how some people always seem to stay so healthy. I blame my kids for spreading germs, but I’d like to think there are things we can do to stay healthier during the fall and winter months.

Real health is about more than just the physical aspects of wellness. It encompasses much more. You need to include your mental, emotional and spiritual health in your plans for a healthy lifestyle.

While there’s no magic plan or potion that will guarantee your health, you can take steps to increase your overall health. In the process, you may also boost your immune system to ward off those pesky cold and flu germs.

Here are 16 habits that healthy people incorporate into their daily lives:

Look on the bright side
Healthy people are optimistic. They don’t waste time and energy complaining. If they need to make a change in there lives, they do it. A positive mental attitude goes along way to promoting and supporting other healthy behaviors.

Commit to a healthy life
Healthy people aren’t born that way. They have made a choice to live a healthy lifestyle. They take it one day at a time just like the rest of us. Do healthy people slip up and revert to bad habits occasionally? Absolutely. However, they know not to let one setback hold them back and continue to actively work toward living a healthy life.

Eat for nourishment
Eating right isn’t just about what you eat. It’s also about how much you eat. Your body will let you know when you’ve had enough. Healthy people pay attention to their bodies and listen when it tells them they are full. You can stop eating when your hunger is satisfied, and before that bloated, full feeling sets in.

Believe in moderation
Healthy people don’t deprive themselves of the foods they love. They eat healthy the majority of the time, but enjoy their favorite unhealthy foods once in a while without feeling guilty. Eat a couple pieces of pizza or have a cookie. Just remember to stay on your healthy course the rest of the time!

Enjoy exercise
I am not here yet. Healthy people actually enjoy exercising. How do they do it? They spend time doing exercises they actually like doing and avoid those they hate. If you hate to run, don’t run. If you don’t like going to a gym, don’t go. Find things you like to do: taking walks outdoors, swimming laps, riding your bike or doing yoga.

Balance work and play
With technology taking over our lives, many people never really clock out from their jobs. You may check emails from your phone or send work texts at dinner. Healthy people know that work is important, but they also know that our health suffers when we don’t take time for us. Make sure you maintain a good balance between work and play.

Drink water
Everyone knows they should drink more water, but healthy people actually do it. Drinking at least six, eight-ounce glasses of water a day can help you in so many ways. You can control your appetite, avoid dehydration and be more mentally attuned. Keep a refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go.

Eat healthy snacks
Snacking can make or break your health goals. Healthy people choose snacks like vegetables, fruits, almonds and other nuts. Replace processed snack foods with raw types of snacks, and you’ll develop an important healthy habit.

Reduce stress
Some stress is a good thing. It keeps us on task and prepares us to handle important challenges. But, chronic stress can be bad for your overall health. It can even weaken your immune system. Take time to relax and do things you enjoy. Say no to stress!

Get enough sleep
Without enough sleep, your immune system doesn’t have the resources it needs to fight off illness. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Keep a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine at bedtime, relax and make your bedroom an oasis.

Just say no
Healthy people are attuned to their own needs. You can say no to friends and loved ones. It means that you are respecting yourself. When you’ve reached your limit, listen to your mind and body, and say no. Your friends and family will understand.

Kick bad habits
If you smoke or drink alcohol, it can weaken your immune system. Smoking is also likely to give you additional health problems. While a glass of wine or a couple of beers is okay, overdoing it can cause you to get sick more often.

Get a pet
Dogs and other pets aren’t just good to have as companions. They can help you get exercise and improve your health. Pets have been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, contributing to a healthier heart. Dogs can also be good for your immune system and help you relieve stress.

Have a laugh
Laughing can be good for you. Research as shown that laughter may help boost your immune system. Laughing and smiling also help relieve stress and put you in a good mood.

Live in the moment
Take time to enjoy life’s little pleasures. Be thankful for everything that is good in your life. The ability to appreciate the things you have, regardless of what else might be going on, helps you maintain a peaceful mindset rather than focus on what you don’t have.

Be kind
Healthy people treat others how they want to be treated. Creating a habit of kindness and respect will make you feel good about yourself and build strong relationships with your friends and family. Small acts of goodness can change your life – and can impact someone else’s life, too. Be compassionate, and you’ll give off a healthy glow!

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Is Your Life in Balance?

zen-still-life-605551-mI have been feeling really pressed for time this summer. I am working full-time and chauffeuring three kids to multiple sports activities and events. There just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything I need to do.

I went on vacation a few weeks ago and worked a few hours every day that I was gone. I feel like I neglect my kids and husband some days, and I haven’t spent time with friends in months.

When your life gets out of balance, you may feel burnt out, unsatisfied, angry, depressed or stressed.

On the other hand, when your life is in balance you have better over health, you’re more fit, you have a positive outlook, and your relationships are strengthened. You will have greater peace of mind, feel in harmony and be excited to embrace each day.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if your life is out of balance – and what you can do to bring it back into balance:

Do you feel overwhelmed?
If you feel like pulling the covers up over your head in the morning and hiding from the world, you may need to reevaluate your priorities. Stress and anxiety can keep you from feeling balanced. It might be a good idea to take a break, step back and give yourself some down time.

Here are 9 Intriguing Things to Know About Stress

Do you have a social network?
And by social network, we don’t mean Facebook or Twitter. When is the last time you spent time with friends and just relaxed? Do you spend quality time with your family? Our relationships are important to our sense of well-being. Neglecting friends and family, or having conflict within your relationships, will make it difficult to find life balance. Make sure you take the time to nurture the relationships that matter to you.

Your friendships matter. Here are 7 Reasons Why We Need Friends

Are you out of shape?
Lack of exercise and poor eating habits will take their toll on your mind and body. Letting yourself get out of shape can impact your quality of life and lead to negative feelings that impact your mood and attitude. Eating right and exercising are good for the body and soul.

Get some workout tips at 15 Exercise and Fitness Do’s and Don’ts
Want some healthy eating tips? 10 Healthy Eating Myths and Facts

How is your energy level?
Do you find yourself yawning and wishing for a nap about halfway through the day? Do you wake up groggy in the morning or toss and turn at night? Your sleep habits can impact your life balance. It’s important to establish good sleep habits and make sure you are getting plenty of rest.

Need more reasons to get a good night’s sleep? Here are 8 Serious Dangers of Sleep Loss

Are your finances a mess?
Are you living beyond your means and feeling the pressure of debt? Your financial situation can cause stress, as well as put added strain on your relationship with your spouse. You can get control of your finances by taking a look at your spending habits and creating a budget to help you get back on track.

Want help creating a budget? Read more: Tips to Achieving a Balanced Budget

Do you have bad habits?
Are you controlling or overbearing to your friends and family? Maybe you’re a perfectionist and expect everyone else to be that way, too. Do you smoke, chew your fingernails or overeat? If there are things about yourself you would like to change, then do it! With time and some patience,  you can change those bad habits and replace them with good habits.

Need to overcome bad habits? Learn how: 7 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

What do you want to accomplish?
What are your goals in life? We all need dreams and plans to keep us excited and motivated. Set goals for yourself and accomplish them. Then, set new goals and challenge yourself to continue to grow and expand your horizons.

Read our blog: 9 Tips to Set and Achieve Life Goals

Finding and maintaining balance in your life is a journey. It’s something you must work at every day. You will have bad days and obstacles will crop up in your path. Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish your goals and appreciate the good moments in your life. Continue to seek and strive for balance in your life. You will find that you are happier, healthier and more at peace.

8 steps to changing goals into habits

Changing your goals into habitsIf you could develop one or two new, good habits in the next few months, what would they be? You might want to save more money, exercise more regularly, learn to better handle stress or find more ways to give back to others.

You may simply feel like it’s time to make some positive changes in your life. You can do it!

I wrote a recent post about breaking bad habits. As a result of that post, I have not chewed my fingernails in over two months. Considering that I have been biting my nails for almost 40 years, I feel very proud of this accomplishment.

After reading the book, A Completely Balanced Life, I have been focusing on finding more balance in my life. I want to change everything at once, but that’s not very realistic. So I have been concentrating on one or two new goals each month and turning those goals into good habits. When I feel like I have those habits established, I move on to new ones while maintaining the existing habits.

In addition to breaking the bad habit of nail biting, my current goals are to exercise more, eat healthier, get plenty of sleep and live with less “stuff.” I have been fairly consistent with the first two goals, but not so great at the last two. I like to stay up late. I also like to shop. I even like to stay up late and shop online! I am continuing to work on them.

Here are 8 steps to help you turn your goals into habits:

Write it down
First, if you write it down, you can better visualize and internalize your goal. It will be easier to achieve success if you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Second, you will feel accountable to follow through when the goal seems more concrete. Take it a step further and post your goal on the refrigerator to remind you – and your family – of what you plan to achieve. Or, announce your goal on Facebook so others can encourage you.

My nail biting goal was simple to define: Stop doing it. However, some goals will be more complex. If you want to make your daily routine more productive, it may require more steps and planning.

Break your goal into steps
If you have a broad goal, such as be more positive or get organized, you’ll need to break it down into manageable pieces. It can be overwhelming to think about making a huge change all at once. By having mini goals, it will be easier to see progress and feel like you are changing your goal into a habit.

To become more positive, you may need to set actionable steps for each day. For example, you may have a mini goal of finding five ways to be positive each day. To get organized, you can evaluate how and where you want to organize and create steps to getting it done.

Make small continuous improvements
Rather than expecting to suddenly make a drastic lifestyle change, choose small changes that you can commit to on a daily basis. It will be easier to create a routine, and therefore, turn it into a habit.

For instance, you want to meditate each day. Your first instinct might be to jump right in and plan to meditate an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. That’s an ambitious goal. If you aren’t able to make the adjustment in the first few days, you will most likely become discouraged. You may find it easier to establish your routine by beginning with 5 – 10 minutes in the morning and 10 – 15 minutes in the evening. You can build up your time over the days and weeks until you achieve your end goal.

Tweak and refine your goal
Once you are a week or two into changing your goal into a habit, you may discover it’s not working out the way you expected. Maybe you bit off more than you could chew and started out too aggressively. Maybe the time of day you chose for your goal isn’t working as well as you expected. It’s okay to make adjustments and tweak your steps to achieving your goal.

Focus on the whole
If you focus on the results, such as losing 30 pounds or eliminating your debt, you may become frustrated by your progress. Instead, pay attention to the whole process. Celebrate all the little steps you have planned and the progress you make. You may have lost a few inches in your waist or dropped a pant size. You may have paid down half the debt on a credit card. All your accomplishments toward the end goal matter!

Pat yourself on the back
Give yourself credit for the little successes. Be proud of what you did right. Feeling good about your accomplishments will help you stay motivated to reach your goal.

However, there may be things that happen that are out of your control. For instance, as you work on eliminating debt, your car breaks down. Paying for the repairs interferes with the steps and goals you have set. Accept that you got off track because of circumstances beyond your control. Adjust your goals and keep going!

Put it on autopilot
As your goal becomes a habit, you can put it on autopilot. You need to continue to give it your attention, but to a lesser extent. By remaining consistent, you can make real and lasting changes. If you get off track, go back and focus on the habit until you have it under control again.

Set a new goal
Now it’s time to select a new goal and create a new habit. Don’t get too carried away. Make sure you are able to maintain your current habits while you work on establishing the new ones.

Have you recently changed a goal into a habit? Do you have any advice on how to make a lasting change? Do you have any tips for creating good habits? Let us know!

7 steps to breaking bad habits

bite fingernailsEven though we may not like to admit it, we all have bad habits. It may be something as simple as biting your nails, clearing your throat or cracking your knuckles. Or it may be more serious and lead to health risks, such as smoking or overeating.

I have chewed my fingernails since I was 4 years old. I have tried many times to quit, but inevitably I start up again. I am going to try to quit for good, so I have been researching how to break a bad habit once and for all.

Here are 7 steps to help you break a bad habit:

Step 1: Find out why
Our habits are based on situations, emotions and routines. The first step to changing a bad habit is to examine its context. When and where do you perform the habit? Who are you with? And maybe the biggest question: Why do you do it?

I know that I chew my fingernails when I’m nervous. I am, by nature, rather high strung and obsessive about things. When I am worried or stressed, I bite my nails. I think it also gives me some sort of comfort. My mom said I went from sucking my thumb straight to chewing my fingernails.

You may crack your knuckles when you’re nervous or even bored. Many people overeat when they are upset or stressed. You may clear your throat when you get anxious.

Step 2: Acknowledge your bad habit
Tell your friends and family that you are trying to break a bad habit. I tell my husband and kids when I am trying to stop biting my nails. I often don’t realize I’m doing it. If my family knows, then they can say something to me when they see me biting my nails.

You can also write yourself a note and post it somewhere that you’ll see it frequently, such as on the fridge, the bathroom mirror or the door leading out of the house. I stick a post-it on my computer because I often gnaw at my nails while I’m writing. You can also keep a log or journal for a week or so. Keep track of what triggers your bad habit, where you are, and who you’re with. You may notice a pattern that will help you break the habit.

Step 3: Replace it with a good habit
It’s easier to replace a bad habit with a better habit than to just quit the bad habit cold turkey. If you want to cut back on eating sweets, keep healthy snacks on hand instead. To keep from biting my nails, I often chew gum or suck on sugar-free candy. When you feel the urge to crack your knuckles, grab a stress ball to squeeze or doodle with a pen. It is not a quick or easy fix. It will take time to make a new habit, well, a habit.

Step 4: Think good thoughts
Many times when we are trying to stop a bad habit, we try to block it out of our thoughts completely. But have you ever noticed that the more you try NOT to think about something, the more it preys on your mind? So, recognize when you want to perform the bad habit and think good thoughts about changing the habit. Focus on your new replacement habit.

Step 5: Change your routine
When possible, change your routine to help break your habit. If you are trying to cut back on drinking alcohol, you may need to find other activities instead of hanging out with friends who are drinking. Or, if you tend to drink alone at home, then get out and do something fun with friends. The same thing applies to overeating. Try to avoid the situations and routines that may lead to eating too much.

Step 6: Distract yourself
You may need to find ways to distract yourself when you feel tempted. We think we can change habits by willpower alone, but it’s hard! If you’re really craving a dessert or a cigarette, go for a quick walk. I know that I tend to bite my fingernails when I’m at my computer or watching TV, so I keep gum and suckers nearby. I also crochet when I’m sitting at my kids’ ballgames or a doctor’s appointment to keep my hands busy.

Step 7: Repeat as needed
You will slip up every once in a while. That’s why it’s called “breaking” a habit. It’s hard! If you have a lapse, don’t give up. Just jump right back into changing your bad habit into a good habit.

Do you have a bad habit you would like to break? Have you been able to overcome a bad habit? What worked for you? We would love to hear from you!

14 secrets to living longer

living longerMy husband and I have very different views on aging. He wants to live as long as possible – on the condition that he is in good health. He has made it clear to me that if he were on life support and there was no chance of regaining quality of life, he wants me to pull the plug.

I, on the other hand, want to live forever. Since that’s not possible, I at least want to live to 100. I have told him he is – under no circumstances – to pull the plug. I could be one of those miraculous survivors who beat the odds.

I know this is a rather morbid subject, but if you are like me and want to live your longest life, you want to know what you can do to make it to 100. After reviewing studies, research and even tips from centenarians, here are some secrets to longevity:

Be conscientious
Having a conscientious personality and attributes like attention to detail and persistence may help you live longer. Studies have shown that conscientious people do more things to protect their health  – such as exercise, eat healthy and avoid bad habits – and make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers.

Make friends
Be grateful for your friends. As we mentioned in our blog, 7 Reasons We Need Friends, your friends may help you live longer. But, be picky. You want to have friends with good habits, such as exercising and healthy eating. Otherwise, a friend’s bad habits, like smoking or overeating, can rub off on you.

Take naps
This may be one of my favorite secrets on the list. I now have permission to take naps! There’s scientific evidence that napping may help increase longevity. A recent study suggests that by taking naps you are 37% less likely to die from heart disease. So, go take a siesta!

Get married
There is some debate about whether being married will help you live longer, but having a partner in life may have its benefits. With marriage, you have a friend and your own support system. In addition, being married may mean you are more financially stable, which can make you feel more secure and give you more opportunities to do things you enjoy.

Eat a Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and fish. Studies have shown that this type of diet can help reduce obesity, lower blood sugar, decrease blood pressure, and help lower your chances of heart disease and diabetes.

Lose weight
Belly fat seems to be particularly bad for your health and longevity. So, work on slimming down and deflating the spare tire. The health benefits can include protecting against diabetes, heart disease and other life-shortening conditions. One way to lose weight is to eat less. Stop eating when you’re 80% full. Eat less meat and eat twice as many fruits and vegetables. We know we need to eat better, so add living longer to the reasons you should adopt a healthy diet.

Keep moving
According to studies, regular physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer and depression. Exercise may even help you stay mentally sharp as you age. You should aim for 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week. You can break that down to 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Even if you can only get in 10 minutes at a time, it all adds up to increase your lifespan. Here are some tips to Get Motivated to Exercise in 2013.

Drink in moderation
Yes, heart disease is less common in people who have a drink or two a day than those who don’t drink at all. However, you need to remember that alcohol is also empty calories that add to that belly bulge. The American Heart Association recommends that if you drink alcohol, the limit should be one drink a day for women and one or two for men. If you don’t drink currently, you shouldn’t start.

Quit smoking
We all know that smoking is bad for your health. Not only is there a greater risk of cancer, you’re also taking years off of your life. So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to quit smoking.

Have faith
Having faith seems to help you live longer. By having strong spiritual beliefs, you are able to better deal with stress and difficult times. It may also offer protection against heart, respiratory and digestive problems. In addition, the strong social network that you create when you worship with others may contribute to overall health.

Manage stress
We always hear that stress is bad for you, but moderate stress can be a good thing. It means you are probably busy, active and involved. Rather than being sedentary and ambivalent, you are persistent and dedicated to getting things done. However, too much stress can be harmful if it causes anxiety, insomnia or digestive issues. Are you too stressed? Read our blog Do You Have Chronic Stress? 6 Major Signs.

Sleep more
As you may have read in our blog, 10 Reasons Get More Sleep, getting plenty of rest can help you fight disease, lose weight, look better and build your brain. Getting enough good quality sleep can even lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and mood disorders. Sleep will also help you recover from illness faster.

Offer forgiveness
Just let it go. Offering forgiveness has surprising physical health benefits. Forgiveness can help you reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and help you to breathe more easily. These benefits tend to increase as you get older.

Have a sense of purpose
There is something to doing what you love. We all have days when we need a reason to get out of bed. Having a sense of purpose leads to a higher quality of life. You may love your work and look forward to it every day. You may have hobbies and activities that have meaning for you. You may find that volunteering makes you feel fulfilled. For more benefits of volunteering, see our blog, 5 Surprising Benefits of Giving Back. Basically, doing what you love may contribute to a longer life.

So, now you know what you need to do to live your longest life! Do you know someone who is 100 or older? What are their secrets to longevity?