I’ve been on a bit of a life-changing and improvement kick recently and I’ve learned a good bit along the way. Some things work, some don’t, but what are the things that I think (and tested) that will have a positive effect on your life?
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1) Wake up early
This is a tough one for everyone and when I tell people that this has been the reason for the big changes in my life, they often roll their eyes and tell me that they can’t be bothered getting up really early. The thing is, you get used to it. Going to bed a bit earlier and waking up early become second nature. There are loads of benefits to getting up earlier and getting organsied before the birds have ventured out of their nests. Is it easy? No. It is worth it? Absolutely.
2) Get your fitness in first thing
When you get up first thing in the morning, you have the chance to get a quick workout in before everyone else gets out of bed. I used to hit the gym at night, which is great and all, but it gets your blood pumping and wakes you up. Not what you need an hour before bed. When you exercise in the morning, you set yourself up on a positive note that can improve your mood, your food choices, and how well you sleep at night.
3) Get more sleep
Getting enough sleep needs to be higher on everyone’s list. Not only does it improve your day to day functioning but it can extend your life. Too much or too little sleep can impact your health because it can reduce stress and act as a painkiller. So, if you are planning on getting up early and getting a quick workout in, just remember to go to bed a lot earlier so that you can get enough rest.
4) Cold showers are good for the soul
Ok, just hear me out for a second. You have gotten up early and done some exercise, now what? You have a cool/cold shower. The idea is not to freeze yourself with the cold water but to have the water slightly colder than you would like. Some people say to have the water cool, some say you need to have it freezing to see any benefits. I’m not a fan of standing under ice cold water but I have noticed that taking the temperature down a notch has helped me wake up in the morning.
5) Track your food
Have you ever tried to remember what you have eaten in a day? Recently I have been checking my blood sugars and using My Fitness App to help me keep track of what I am eating every day. It’s surprising to see how much rubbish is in our food. It has been noted many times that keeping a food diary can help you manage your weight and track any intolerances that you might have. But it always helps you to be accountable with what you are eating.
6) Eat only the good stuff
Once you start tracking your food, you will realise that you probably eat too much rubbish. I know it is tempting to throw caution to the wind and grab a big greasy burger, but in the long run, this is bad for your health. Try and go for organic, locally sourced food that is low in fat. Not only will you be getting more vitamins and minerals into your body, but you will be reducing the number of toxins that can cause you harm.
7) Reading for pleasure
I love reading and it is one of the greatest habits to have. For children, it has been shown to improve educational scores. For adults, it can help with our identities and how we connect with the world. But lots of people don’t read because it is boring. Reading a book is hardly boring, not when you think of it as looking at the carcass of a living being and hallucinating. Honestly, give me a better definition of reading if you dare. If you are stuck for ideas, check out the KappaCino Book Club for plenty of reading inspiration.
8) Honestly, be honest
This is one that people really don’t like because the truth can be painful. That doesn’t mean that you should start speaking your mind and telling everyone exactly what you think of them. You need to be honest with yourself. Are you happy? What do you really want? Having a good long look at yourself is hard and scary, but you will become a better person if you have a good look at yourself and how you live your life. One thing you can do is talk to a therapist at thrivetalk.com to help you get to the bottom of any issues and the painful truth.
9) Be patience
Being patient is one of the biggest things I have discovered recently. I like to think I’m a zen person but I’m really not. Road rage is my big thing. it shouldn’t be surprising that being patient is linked to reduced stress levels and better mental health. But more than that, it will make you a better person who people will want to be around.
10) Master a skill
I’ve been on this self-improvement kick for a while, but what I have noticed is that you shouldn’t do more than one skill at a time. While it might be tempting to try and learn a few things at once, it will make it harder to get anywhere with it. This can lead to frustration and you will probably give up. Focus on one thing at a time and you will enjoy the process a lot more.
11) Get talking to people
It’s hard making new friends when you are a grownup but you should always try to extend your social circle. This does not mean talking to every Tom, Dick, and Harry that you meet, especially when you see people who are actively avoiding human contact. But try to speak to your neighbours and get to know them, get to know the people that you work with, or connect with the people in your gym. Will they all be beautiful people? No, but you won’t know who is worth your time until you get to know them.
12) Public speaking is a skill
Nobody really likes public speaking but it is a great skill to have. Why? Because it is about confidence and clear communication. If you have those two skills, there is nothing in this world that you can’t do. Public speaking is a skill that you might never really need (or need on a rare occasion) but the underlying skills can have massive benefits to your career and your home life.
13) Don’t forget to have a hobby
If you have a hobby, great! If you don’t, you need to get one. Having a hobby is a great way to unwind and focus your attention on something else. We have so much stress and having a hobby is one way of practicing mindfulness without having to be completely zen. They can also help to reduce bad habits and give you a goal to focus on.
14) Conquer an impossible goal
I am pretty sure that you have a bucket list that is probably packed with lots of goals, and a few of them are huge. For me, running a marathon was one, and when I made that goal I couldn’t run. But by working a little bit every day I was able to build up my strength and could do marathon distance. And did I feel afterward? Amazing doesn’t even cover it. Just a little bit of training and self-improvement every day will help to conquer an impossible goal.
15) Take time for you
Being calm is something that everyone needs to learn to do. We live in a stressful world so we need to take some time to regroup and get our heads back on. And we shouldn’t feel guilty about it. When you take time for yourself, you will be a healthier and happier person who works better at whatever tasks the day throws at you.
16) Ditch the bad habits
We all have bad habits that we need to ditch but they seem to be some of the hardest things to change. But, when you ditch a bad habit, there is an improvement in another area of your life. There is still a lot of debate about what a bad habit is and if it is truly terrible, but if you have a habit that is ruining your life in some shape or form, then you should ditch it.
17) Put down your phone
I tried a full week without my phone and was shocked by how much time I freed up. I got on top of so many projects, finished things other things off, and was generally a lot happier. Sitting on your phone can be addictive, so instead of actually talking to people, we end up staring at a screen that doesn’t really bring us joy.
18) Actually, just turn them off
While it is tempting to keep your phone switched on in case of an emergency, there is a good chance that you won’t get a phone call in the middle of the night. But your phone will light up and disturb your sleep. And what did I just say about the benefits of sleep? Yeah, we should be getting better sleep. Turning them off at night will help you to improve your health. If you have a sick family member or are expecting a phone call in the middle of the night, then by all means, keep your phone on. But otherwise, switch it off and enjoy your sleep.
19) Practice gratitude
Gratitude is one of those things that everyone gets a bit funny about. But by practicing gratitude you will be helping your mental health to improve. Like patience, gratitude can be difficult to get going with, but once you have started and make it into a healthy habit, you will see massive changes around you.
20) Volunteer some of your time
Charity is probably one of the most important things we can do, but it doesn’t need to be money that is donated all the time. Giving some of your time to a cause can have an even bigger impact on the world and on us. One of my favorite things to do is help out at my local Park Run (when they have space for me). You could try helping out at your local animal shelter or giving some time to help a local youth group.
21) Don’t dwell on the past
We have all been there. You are just nodding off to sleep and then you remember that time you peed your pants in front of your friends in school because the teacher would not let you go to the toilet. Do you know what? You can’t go back and change it stuff. This is a simple fact that everyone needs to accept and move on with our lives. Dwelling on the past will make you miserable and who has time for that when the future is ahead of us? Nobody, that’s who.
22) Be Brave
Do you know how many times I’ve said “F**k it, hold my beer” and went off and done something completely stupid? Too many. But they make for great stories. You don’t need to channel your inner idiot in order to be brave. Being brave is about stepping out of your comfort zone and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is the only way that we can grow as people, so feel the fear and eat that frog.
23) Save for your old age
Nobody likes to think about getting old, but hopefully, you will make it that far. If you do, you will want to be comfortable and not worry about money. Start saving for your old age now so that when retirement comes around, you won’t have to worry about how you will pay the bills or keep the cupboards stocked.
24) Keep an eye on the bank balance
It is amazing how things add up when you don’t keep track of things. Have you ever looked at your bank account and wondered where all of your money went? Most people do. If you start keeping an eye on what you are spending money on, then you will have a better idea of where you can cut back on things and start saving some money.
25) Question everything
It probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do but the quest for enlightenment isn’t easy. It is so easy to accept what is being fed to you but is it all true? There is no harm in doing your own research and looking into what is best for you. By questioning everything, you can explore and learn more about the world around you.