Western life has never been more toxic than it is currently, two decades into the 21st century. Everything from a growing dependence on fast food to increasingly unclean air and water to the vitriolic hate surrounding every single political interaction has left Americans in an unhealthy stupor.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and burnt out by simply being alive right now, you’re definitely not alone. Many Americans are burned out on COVID and politics, after months of social restrictions and waiting for nearly the entirety of November for Trump to give up his bid to negate the results of the presidential election. Everyone is tired, and it’s times like these when it’s worth slowing down in an attempt to restore some tranquility.
With that in mind, here are a few simple habits that are worth indulging in on a daily basis. They aren’t just helpful for restoring peace and calm in the here and now, either. If used on a regular basis, these can continue to give you a healthy and prosperous life for years and even decades to come.
Prioritize Healthy Eating, Sleeping, and Exercise
If you want to both live a long life and feel good while you do so, it’s important that you care for your physical body by:
- Eating a well-balanced diet that includes things like fruits, veggies, and lean meats and minimizes things like bad fats and added sugars.
- Staying active and exercising regularly — 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity is recommended each week.
- Get a good amount of sleep each and every night — roughly 7 to 9 hours per night is appropriate for an adult.
- Avoid unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking.
Creating habits that naturally care for your body is the first step in living a long and healthy life. All of this is amplified by the fact that the country is going into its second winter living with COVID-19. Some researchers have found a connection between the use of melatonin and a reduced rate of positive COVID test results. Even if you are taking all the precautions against COVID, using melatonin can help you sleep. It’s a win-win.
Consider Your Spaces
Often physical space and health safety are intimately connected. Poor structures can lead to mold issues. Pests can create unsanitary living conditions. Lead paint and asbestos are commonly found in older homes.
If your home is a hotbed for unhealthy living, you’re going to want to establish good cleaning habits such as:
- Creating a cleaning schedule that you can stick to.
- Using healthy, environmentally-friendly cleaning products that will improve your living space without harming your body.
- Planning home improvement projects and hiring professionals to slowly fix structural issues and remove things like asbestos, paint, pests, and mold from your home over time.
If you can get in the habit of maintaining a clean living space, it can ensure that your body isn’t suffering unnecessarily from its environment over the years ahead.
At the same time, if you are considering getting out of the house to go to a bar or restaurant that might be open during COVID, be careful about the choice you make. While you might think those neat, little pods on the sidewalks are going to be safer, think again. Condensation builds up inside those things, and there’s more to that condensation than accumulated air droplets.
Create Mental Health Habits
The modern world is stressful, and it can be hard to weather the barrage of concerns and criticisms lobbed around on a daily basis. If you want to take steps to preventatively preserve your mental health, establish habits like:
- Creating a morning routine to help you calmly start each day with structure.
- Finding anxiety and stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing and reading muscle relaxation scripts.
- Meditating and praying on a daily basis.
- Keeping an eye out for cognitive distortions that can warp your thinking.
- Limiting your intake of negative media such as misinformation or ensuring that the news you’re reading is ethical and thoroughly researched. Constantly watching election results contributed to stress among Americans and the results haven’t really alleviated much of it.
By guarding your mental health in the here and now, you put yourself in an ideal position to stay emotionally and mentally sharp far into the future.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help
There are many habitual personal activities that can help with preventative care. However, another important habit is the ability to identify and be willing to get professional help when it’s needed.
Sometimes this should be done in a preventative manner, such as regularly checking your oral, respiratory, and visual health. At other times, it might involve being willing to set up a recurring schedule to visit an occupational therapist who can regularly help you independently from larger healthcare organizations. This can be necessary at all ages and for many reasons, such as struggling to recover from a previous injury or a hip replacement.
This also brings up the important topic of getting into the habit of maintaining good health insurance. Regularly check that your policy doesn’t relapse and you stay up to date regarding what is covered and what isn’t.
Look for Sustainable Activities
Finally, it’s also important to proactively look for ways to establish sustainable activities that are good for your long-term health.
Sometimes these are obvious, such as gardening for physical health or attending social events for mental health. At other times they’re more subtle, like walking or biking to work instead of driving. It can even be as minimal as staying put in lockdown but ensuring you have some greenspace to look at for your mental health.
All of this doesn’t just help create less pollution. If you live in an increasingly dangerous area to travel, such as Boston where deaths from accidents remained on the rise in spite of a coronavirus-related reduction in traffic, driving less can literally make you physically safer as well.
Turning Good Behaviors Into Preventive Habits
Life can be stressful for many different reasons. However, if you try to adopt healthy habits now, it can allow you to proactively prevent issues in the future.
Caring for your physical, mental, and emotional health through habitually healthy behaviors enables you to stay in the best condition possible without having to schedule in unique activities or take as many reactive steps to maintain your health in the future.