If you’ve been working at home for a few weeks now—or you need to be at home more because your kids’ schools are closed—you may be facing the same dilemma as many of us in our newly home-bound lives: You started this adventure thinking you’d do a vigorous workout every day, get up early to make a daily green juice, or maybe finally get that novel that’s been waiting to be written off the ground…and maybe those things haven’t quite happened.
Don’t beat yourself up over it. Like New Year’s resolutions, these types of lofty goals are overwhelmingly harder to meet than they are to set—and it’s not because you suck at it! Only about 8% of people actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions, and that’s with months to plan ahead. We think that says a lot more about our unfair expectations of ourselves than our actual ability to succeed.
According to Dr. Stephen Graef, a sports psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to resolutions. “Some of the biggest mistakes people make,” he says, “are setting goals that are too broad, too big, or too many.”
We may still have a ways to go before returning back to our bustling, hectic lives, so now is the time to set practical and simple wellness habits that will help you along your path to your HIIT goals or literary dreams without setting yourself up for disappointment. And you can do them all from the comfort of your own home.
1. Keep a journal
Journaling is about more than just chronicling your life. Research has shown that keeping a written record of your day can increase mindfulness, boost your intelligence, spark creativity, improve your overall awareness and communication, and help you achieve your goals.
Worried about the time commitment of keeping a journal? Jotting down a few notes about your day can be just as effective as writing a large passage. In the book Tools of Titans, author Tim Ferris suggests completing a 5-minute journal entry two times a day. In the morning, he fills in the following prompts:
- I am grateful for… 1._____2._____3.____
- What would make today great? 1._____2._____3.____
- Daily affirmations: I am… 1._____2._____3.____
And in the evening he fills out two more prompts:
- Three amazing things that happened today… 1._____2._____3.____
- How could I have made today better? 1._____2._____3.____
2. Be flexible
Well-stretched muscles have an easier time achieving a full range of motion, protecting you from injury. Flexibility can also improve athletic performance, as well as everyday abilities like bending, twisting, and reaching.
Stretching ten minutes a day will improve your flexibility, and it can be done without leaving the house. For most adults, the lower-back, calf muscles, chest, and hip flexors are the areas that need the most stretching. Check out these gentle exercises that target tendons, joints, and muscles.
3. Make your bed
It may sound hokey, but your mom and dad (or maybe your drill sergeant) were right: Win the morning by making your bed when you wake up. For some, bed-making feels like a waste of time since you’re just going to unmake it that night, but there are many benefits to this simple task.
First and foremost, making your bed is an easy win. Starting your day by completing a task makes you more productive for the rest of the day. Once you’ve completed one task, it’s much easier to go after the next task and the next one. As an added bonus, you start your day by performing a productive action, not worrying about the various stressors in your life.
And if that’s not enough,bed-making may improve sleep quality as well as overall productivity.
4. Filter out the junk
In the last couple of years, we’ve become increasingly aware of the chemicals, pollutants and heavy metals floating around in our tap water. If you’re looking for an easy habit to pick up, start by purifying your water.
If you’re curious about the quality of your local tap water, start with the EWG Tap Water Database. Be warned: it can be unnerving to see the amount of cancer-producing and hormone-altering contaminants in our water.
Charcoal and other carbon filters use activated carbon to trap/remove contaminants and other impurities that are inside tap water. Many filters today – both on faucets and pitchers – already use these charcoal filters. And now there are water bottles that include active charcoal to filter tap water. If you’re looking for a simple but effective way to try water filtering, start with a charcoal water filter.
5. Try turmeric
Turmeric has been used for millennia in Asia as both a dye and a medicine. In recent years, Western medicine has confirmed what the traditional Indian system of treatment has said for generations: turmeric, which includes the active ingredient curcumin, can be used for the treatment of a variety of health conditions, specifically inflammation and chronic pain. Curcumin has also been known to improve liver functions because of its antioxidant abilities. In addition, turmeric can improve digestion, and it has shown promise in reducing risk of certain cancers.
If you’re looking to spice up your life start with these turmeric recipes. You can add the spice to foods, such as eggs, rice, greens, and soups – or you can blend in into a smoothie or sprinkle it into your tea.
6. Turn off your device
The majority of us spend our days shifting our eyes between our phones and our computers. While it may not be practical to remove electronic screens from our lives entirely, shutting off your tech gadgets at night can do wonders for your sleep cycle.
If you want to improve your sleep , develop a habit of shutting off objects with electronic screens two hours before you go to bed. While any light can disrupt sleep, the light emitted from phones, computers, TVs, and tablets, blue light, has been shown to be especially disruptive to the circadian rhythm, the sleep cycle. If you absolutely must be on your phone, use apps that block the blue light, which can trick the brain into thinking that it’s day time. Some useful mobile apps for blocking blue light include Iris, Nightshift, and Twilight.
Instead of looking at your phone or your laptop, open a book, do some yoga, write in your journal, or take a walk around the block early in the morning or just before bedtime.
7. Make your thumb greener
Bring the outdoors to you. This is a good time to try a little indoor gardening. Interaction with (living) indoor plants has been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress and induce feelings of comfort, according to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology. Even plant soil may contain microbes that prompt the body to produce anti-depressant hormones like serotonin.
Consider these indoor plants, which can do triple duty as a hobby, an attractive indoor decoration, and a potential health benefit. A NASA research project looked at plants that were especially efficient at cleansing the air of pollutants. The gerbera daisy proved to be one of the best choices for clean air. These cheerful colored flowers can be grown inside as potted plants and will thrive with lots of sunlight.
If you’re looking for a plant that does double-duty, consider growing lavender. This scented flower not only has a beautiful aroma, but the smell of lavender has been shown to induce deep sleep and calm You can even use lavender in cooking.
If you’re new to the world of indoor gardening, or have low light in your home, consider the ideal starter plant: the spider plant. This cheerfully spiky, easy-care plant does well in almost all indoor conditions. As it grows, it produces “babies,” which you can keep on the plant or transplant into their own pot.
Healthy habits in a new normal
When you’re making goals and setting habits for a new reality—or a new year—remember that quality and commitment will always beat quantity. Think about what’s practical for you in this unusual time, and then set a plan to achieve your goals. Be well and keep it up!