We all have habits that we are a little shameful of. I know I have my share. But realizing that you have a bad habit is the first step in order to get rid of it and potentially replace it with a good habit. Just in the past year or so I’ve made some drastic improvements to my mood and energy levels by replacing just a few small bad habits with healthy and productive habits. This process starts with being honest with yourself about your daily rituals that drain your energy levels. This is an easy litmus test to find out what should be changed in your daily or weekly routines. Next step is to find an alternative method that either stops you from doing the energy draining task or lessens the load of that task. An alternative to eliminating bad habits is to simply add good habits on top of your normal activities. This requires a little thought on who you want to be and how you want to spend your time, then simply incorporating that into your life at the frequency you set for yourself.
Here is a list of small habits that I’ve changed, eliminated, or added to my daily activities that made a big difference in my mood and energy levels throughout the day. Feel free to take from this list or allow yourself to be inspired by this list to come up with something more tailored for yourself.
- Placing my phone in another room while working
This is an example of a super simple change that has been a game changer for me. Free will is overrated sometimes and when it comes to spending time on my phone, I know I lose that battle more times then I win. Just a small social media check in can lead to an hour or two of lost time throughout the day. One small rabbit hole can lead to a giant pit.
For this reason, I leave my phone in another room whenever I’m working or trying to be productive. This helps me resist the urge to check it every 10 minutes and allows me to dive deeply in whatever I’m working on. All of the constant check-ins would throw me out of whatever flow I had and ruin my thought process and productivity. Out of sight, out of mind. Fortunate enough for me, I don’t have to use my cell phone often for work. This makes it ideal for me to leave it alone in a separate room. Since starting this trick, I’ve felt more engaged with my work and have gotten more done in less time thanks to it.
- Writing first thing in the morning
I’ve written about this tactic before and I can’t stress how good it’s been to me. It’s not always easy to do, but afterwards I’m always happy I did it. Writing first thing in the morning is a great way to jump start your brain and increase creativity. A lot of us, including myself, are most creative in the morning due to the low activity from our prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for logic and reason. This is why we have crazy dreams at night because during REM sleep this part of the brain is shut off. After waking up, it takes some time before our prefrontal cortex is fully back online. This explains the fogginess or dreamlike state we are in during the first hour or so after waking.
For this reason, I want to take advantage of this state of mind and write down anything that’s on my mind. I like writing down creative and unique thoughts, dreams I had, a list of things I need to get done that day, or anything that I’m fearful of in that moment of my life. The last example is important. This helps reduce fears and worries through the simple act of writing them down. This allows me to take on the day with a little less stress than I normally would.
- Bring a book into the bathroom
This is my newest habit that I’ve started to do recently and I’ve really come to like. I know no one wants to hear about bathroom stuff, but reading a book instead of scrolling through my phone has been a small game changer for me. Instead of scrolling through mind-numbing social media, I read a few pages in a good book that I’ve read before. It’s the type of book that only needs a few pages or reading before you remember what the books about and the lessons it teaches you. This helps me reframe my mind and puts it at ease instead of the stupid distractions on our phones. For some reason, reading anything is more interesting while on the throne which is why this makes for an effective, yet simple new habit.
- Stretching before bed
This habit has been especially good to me as I get back into intense weight and cardio training. I’ve always had my battles with flexibility. I was never gifted with flexibility which means stretching is more critical for me than for others. Stretching has always been a burden to me due of my tightness. As a result, simply scheduling stretching before bed every night makes it easy for me to remember to do it. Before I added this habit to my nightly routine, I would only stretch when I would do leg exercises. This meant I would only stretch maybe once or twice a week. With this frequency, progress with my flexibility would improve little to none. For this reason, I added stretching to my nightly routine. It’s easier to do when it’s schedule in for the same time every day and it helps me relax before bed. A little stretching right before I turn in for the night has significantly helped with my flexibility. The consistency is exactly what I needed for me to see some progress. As a result, my body feels better throughout the day and during my workouts. I’ve also seen improvements to my performance while feeling less injury prone.
- Watching the sunset
I like to watch the sunset at least three or four times a week on my roof deck. I get a lot of benefits out of it. For one, it takes me off my phone before bed and helps me sleep better. There’s something relaxing about watching the sunset. It helps quiet my mind which helps me think about anything that’s going on in my life at that time. Whether it’s reflecting on the progress I made that day or larger life decisions, it helps to have a quiet mind during that process. And watching the sunset is no better way to do that. You get a calming feeling watching a sunset and it is a natural and healthy way to tell your body and mind that it’s time for bed. Rather than watching tv or looking at my phone which only stimulates my brain, watching the colors of the sky as the sun goes down helps my mind relax and reflect.
These small habits have had a big impact on my daily activities. From small productivity hacks to simple stress eliminators, all of these habits have been incorporated into my daily and/or weekly rituals to have a large impact. These small and simple changes have made a big difference in my energy levels and mood throughout the days. And I look forward to continuing to take advantage of these habits to make even more progress.
Please feel free to drop a comment below on small habits you’ve changed in your life that have made a big difference.