So, I was listening to a random selection of tunes the other day and a song came on that I hadn’t heard in a very long time: Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen.
(If you’ve never heard it before, go take 5 minutes to listen to it now!)
It’s a spoken word song based on a short essay written as a hypothetical college commencement speech and published by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune in 1997.
It’s packed full of really cool advice that can’t be fully appreciated until you get older, at which point, it’s kind of too late to implement a lot of it, hence the title of the article: Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.
Anyway, it got me thinking about advice on lifestyle changes that anyone can make at any age that can have a positive impact and are worth making.
And more importantly, lifestyle changes that are not too difficult to adopt.
Because the things that make us a certain way are often due to those things that we do repeatedly.
Habits, in other words.
And breaking bad habits, changing behaviour and lifestyle can actually be one of the hardest things for anyone to do.
Daily behaviours and habits add up, so if you eat sh*t food everyday, don’t be surprised if you look and feel like sh*t.
If you never exercise and the first thing you do when you wake up is light a cigarette, don’t be surprised when you can’t make it up a flight of stairs without feeling like you’re on the verge of collapse.
You get the idea.
Bad habits mostly have bad consequences.
But the flipside of that is good habits mostly have good consequences.
We all have aspects of our lives that we would like to be better at. Which aspects they are and the reasons for wanting to be better will be personal to you. Some might require a huge upheaval to change the way you’re living your life currently to get to the kind of life you want.
Others may require small habit changes, but will still make a big difference over time.
I am a big fan of the compounding effect of incremental changes. A lot of small efforts done repeatedly can make a huge difference to your life.
Simple, but significant changes to your life that will help your body, your mind and your soul.
So, here are our Top Ten favourite super-doable easy lifestyle changes that will make a real difference to your life and your well-being.
You’ll have heard many of these suggestions before, but how many have you actually tried to implement? While they are simple suggestions, you still need to actually do them to see a change!
So read, implement and repeat! Nobody else can do them for you.
1. Get Up Earlier
This first one is really easy and can have a MASSIVELY positive impact on your life.
Ok, so you like your sleep.
And you maybe think you’re a “not-good-in-the-mornings” person.
But here’s the thing – not many people are.
Very few people naturally spring out of bed on a daily basis as soon as the alarm goes off. But you can form a habit of actually getting up immediately, rather than hitting snooze four times before you get the point that have no choice but to get up or risk being late for whatever it is you have to do that day.
It’s simply about discipline and then creating the habit.
It doesn’t matter what your daily schedule looks like – getting kids ready for school, yourself ready for work, whatever.
You don’t necessarily have to be up before the birds, but try just 30 minutes earlier than you normally get up.
That’s really not Mission:Impossible, is it?
It’s totally do-able for pretty much everyone and can even be compensated for by going to bed 30 minutes earlier.
And voilà – as if by magic, you have just created 30 minutes in the day that you didn’t have yesterday.
What sorcery is this?!
Think about it: that 30 minutes extra every day equates to three and half hours extra per week.
Over a whole year, that creates 182 more hours awake.
That, my friend, is a whole week’s worth of time that was previously spent slumbering, but is now precious time that can be allocated to doing more with your life.
One whole week!!!
Think about what you could do with that time . . .
Exercising, reading, meditating, learning a new skill, spending more time with your loved ones or just catching up on stuff that would normally eat up other parts of your day.
It’s gotta be worth it, right?
2. Make Your Bed
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
This might sound like glib advice, but it is far from it.
Watch this segment of a speech by Admiral William H. McRaven at the University of Texas Commencement Address in 2014 to put that statement into its full context.
Not bad, eh?
Getting into the habit of performing a simple task in the morning can set you up for a productive day – you know, begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began and all that.
If you don’t do this already, start now and start changing your world.
This whole speech is pretty damn inspirational actually, so if you’re interested in hearing the full version, in which the Admiral shares ten life lessons he learned in basic SEAL training, check it out here. I promise you, it will be 20 minutes of your time well spent.
And I know you’ve got 20 minutes, because you’re getting up 30 minutes earlier tomorrow anyway, right?
3. Drink More Water
This is another quick win, especially if you don’t drink much water currently.
Drinking more water and being well hydrated benefits the body in numerous ways and you will notice some of them quite quickly.
Start with drinking a glass of water before sleeping and on waking (during that 30 minutes extra you have just created in your day!)
Drink 2-3 glasses throughout the day.
If you need to, carry a water bottle with you and sip at regular intervals.
This one is so simple to implement and not being dehydrated can have a dramatic effect on your general well-being.
You can also try drinking your water hot, which might be more beneficial than drinking it cold.
4. Exercise (More)
You know it. I know it. We all know it.
But just because we know it, doesn’t mean we all do it regularly.
Like many people, I often struggle to find time to exercise – at least lack of time is the excuse that I use and I’m quite certain that I am not alone in playing the “I’m-too-busy-to-exercise card” to avoid working out.
But what if I told you that you can actually get a decent workout done in 10 minutes?
Yep, you really can.
There is increasing evidence that a high-intensity workout of 10 minutes is just as effective as a those hour-long sessions in the gym. Ok, if you want to get picky, it depends on how you exercise, but if a lack of time is your biggest excuse, let it be known that you can get a meaningful exercise session done in 10 minutes.
Related: 7 Of The Best 10-Minute Workouts
If those 10 minutes are still eluding you during your busy days, you can check out this post providing tips on exercising opportunistically and without the need to visit a gym.
But then again, you’re now getting up 30 minutes earlier, aren’t you? That looks like 3 lots of 10 minutes to me! 🙂
5. Do Something You Love
Not everyone necessarily has a real passion in life. And that’s fine. Not everyone needs to go full-on ‘finding your why’.
But doing things that make you feel happy, that you enjoy, that motivate you, that you can get lost in can make life so much better.
You may not be one of those that are lucky enough to do a job that you love, but again, that’s fine.
The reality is, doing what you love may not always pay the bills. So take the time do stuff you love when you are not working.
Put it in your schedule and don’t feel guilty about regularly investing some of your time doing those things.
Smile more, laugh more, nurture happy thoughts.
Don’t take things too seriously.
It is often said that happiness is a state of mind and that you can choose to be happy. That might not always be easy in reality, but being more consciously aware of your mood and how you react to situations and your environment can generally help you to remain in a more positive frame of mind.
And smiling can help with that.
While smiling is considered to be an involuntary response to joy or laughter, forcing a smile can help to stimulate a genuine smile.
And the benefits of smiling are well documented. The act of smiling can help to lower blood pressure, boost your immune system, elevate your mood. It makes you feel good and look good.
Everyone agrees that people look much more attractive when they smile, right?
And like Gandhi said, “Smile don’t cost nothing, sugar.” Or maybe it was Aristotle? I forget.
Related: How To Be Happy Every Single Day
7. Do A Random Act Of Kindness
This is basically doing something nice for someone else unexpectedly, without any prompting and without any apparent ulterior motive.
I guess in the old days, we used to just call it being nice to others, but these days, everything needs a social media marketing-friendly label, so there you have it.
Anyway, cynicism aside, a random act of kindness is usually associated with acts performed on strangers, but there is definitely no harm in doing something for a friend or family member.
In fact, I’d encourage it.
And what’s in it for you?
Quite a lot, it seems.
There is evidence suggesting that practising random acts of kindness is actually good for mental health, so you’re helping yourself by helping others.
And if you’ve ever helped someone out spontaneously (which I’m sure you have), you’ll definitely know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get after doing it.
If you don’t experience that feeling, well, you’re probably a psychopath.
Not judging – just sayin’. 😉
Anyway, giving someone a compliment, helping an elderly person with their bags, paying for the lunch of the person in front of you, buying someone a cup of coffee – it can be anything you can think of.
If you want some inspiration, you can find a lot of random acts of kindness on YouTube that have been caught on camera.
There are some that have been purposely documented by the individual carrying out the acts, which I personally find a bit crass (Oooh, look at what an awesome human being I am and by the way, don’t forget to like and subscribe), but I am sure they will claim they are only doing it to inspire others.
Either way, whether you film your good deeds or not, this only really works if you do it from the heart and with good intent.
The bottom line is, just do nice things for others without expecting anything in return and feel good about it.
And if everyone went around performing random acts of kindness every day, how great would that be?
8. Take A Break From Social Media
The use of smart phones, the internet and social media is an integral part of modern society and brings many benefits.
But at the same time, excessive use can be incredibly detrimental to our health, our minds and our relationships.
Stop being a smombie and walking around glued to your phone all the time.
You don’t need to check your emails, your Facebook, your Twitter feed and your Instagram incessantly. Nothing bad will happen if you ignore them for a day or two or five. I promise.
In fact, studies suggest that a break from social media will only do good things. There is a load of research to back this up and here are some articles for starters:
If you are in the company of others, put your phone away and talk, engage, laugh with EACH OTHER. Do stuff in the real world, rather than through a screen all the time.
Do not underestimate the importance of connecting and having meaningful relationships with other people in the flesh. It is truly one of the best things you can do for your mental health and happiness.
I’m not sure why we are all here on this Earth, but I am pretty sure it is not to experience life through an iPhone.
Take a break from the digital stuff and get in touch with the people around you and take the opportunity to get out into nature as well.
Studies have shown that spending time in forest and park environments has positive, physiological effects, such as lowering blood pressure, pulse rate and cortisol levels. All good stuff.
Give yourself a break and get out of urban areas as often as you can. You’ll feel so much better for it.
9. Watch What You Eat
Along with the blanket advice of “get more exercise”, we all know that we should pay more attention to what we eat as well.
Yes, it can be hard.
But if you can’t dedicate more time and effort to what you put into your body, at least try the following:
- Ditch the sodas
- Eat more fruit
- Eat more fibre
- Make meal plans for the week
- Drink your coffee black
There are numerous other things you can do and ways you can trick yourself into eating more healthily, but the best way to get results is to start small and stay consistent.
10. Learn Mindfulness Or Meditation
Mindfulness is the practice of paying full attention to whatever you are experiencing in the present, without being distracted or overwhelmed by whatever else is going on around you.
It’s about living life in the ‘here and now’ and fully embracing the experience you are having in the present, rather than ruminating in the future or dwelling on the past.
You don’t need to be a Zen master.
Or anything in particular to be able to practise mindfulness.
It is something we can all do naturally, but it may take a bit of practice to do it well.
Mindfulness can bring some incredible benefits to your mental, emotional and physical health. I must admit that I was very skeptical before I tried it, but I can attest to the purported benefits.
It’s definitely a case of don’t knock it before you’ve tried it.
Of course, there is no end to the positive changes we can make in our lives. Life is all about trying to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday.
And we believe that these 10 simple suggestions will go a long way towards helping you experience positive results without too much effort being required.
Go give some of them a try and let us know how you get on.