Maximising our potential seems to be the holy grail of the modern age.
Countless apps claim they can make us more efficient individuals. Numerous podcasts suggest that by subscribing to them they will help us ‘unlock our potential’. Even the shelves of our bookstores are weighed down with so-called ‘self help’ books – all of which espouse to hold the secret to a happier life.
Surely, all these different sources can’t all have the right answer! Maybe that’s because there isn’t one right answer. Maybe the key to becoming a ‘better you’ doesn’t involve a huge change in your life after all but rather some small tweaks, adopting a few different habits and maybe just looking at success in a slightly different way.
With that in mind, below are 3 healthy habits that might not change your life completely, probably won’t turn you into the next Steve Jobs, but could certainly have a big impact on your health and happiness.
None of the things I am going to suggest to you below are new or groundbreaking, but all are achievable and better yet, completely and utterly free! What more could you want?
As a society our attitude to sleep stinks. We all know sleep is good for us. We’ve always known that sleep is good for us. But thanks to advances in medical science we are only just beginning to realise exactly how good for us sleep really is.
Yet amazingly just as we are beginning to understand the amazing physical and mental health benefits of a good night’s rest, it seems more and more of us are getting less and less. In fact, according to a study by Royal Society for Public Health is seems the majority of us Brits get less than the doctor recommended eight hours a night, averaging in at just 6.8 hours a night. Yikes!
Every piece of evidence we have suggests that the better we sleep the better we are at almost everything we do. The better our accuracy, the better our memory, the more creative we are, the happier we are, the more optimistic we are. To put it in perspective, sleep has been referred to as the single greatest performance enhancer known to humankind.
So, the first healthy habit to adopt to become a better you is to examine your attitude to sleep. Take a look at your bedtime routines, examine your attitude to screens in the evening, get a quality mattress (like this one), consider what you eat before bed and most importantly of all start treating your sleep with respect the respect it deserves.
Eat your lunch in the park
Most of us live fairly sedentary existences, long gone are the days when we would roam the forest from sunup to sundown in search of nuts and berries. The most exercise the majority of us get now is the short walk from our desk to the coffee machine and back. Long days and long commutes mean most of see less and less of the sun, this is especially true when winter is as long and dark as it’s been this year.
This is bad news because daylight, like sleep, is another completely free and completely natural performance enhancer. The more exposure to daylight we receive the more efficiently our body is at regulating our circadian rhythms and the better we will sleep. And as we’ve already seen, the better we sleep, the healthier and happier we are.
Now it’s not a realistic solution for us to quit our jobs and go work in the countryside but we can all certainly take measures to make sure we see more daylight each day. This could be as simple as choosing to walk to the office instead of catching the bus, taking a detour through the park on your cycle to work or wrapping up warm and going to eat our lunch in the park.
Being in nature, even sitting in the park, has been repeatedly proven to reduce anxiety, stress depression and even obesity.
Say thank you once a day
Becoming your ‘best self’ may not actually involve any changes to your daily life at all, it may simply involve a simple change in your perception about yourself. After all what’s wrong with who you currently are? Nothing, that’s what I say and I don’t even know you.
Evidence exists to suggest that we can train our brains to start seeing the same glass as increasingly full.
Mindfulness meditation can certainly help in this respect. Sitting quietly with your own thoughts for 15 minutes a day can pay huge dividends when it comes to calming the chattering negatively of our ‘monkey mind’ we all have.
Another simple technique that has a lot of fans is simple taking ten minutes an evening to sit down and list out 3 or 4 things that you are thankful for that day. Known as a gratitude journal, this technique works by gradually training the brain to start looking for the positives in each situation instead of the negative. It sounds too simple to be true but it seems the neuroscience exists to support it.
Well, there you have it 3 simple, achievable and free tips to help you become your best self. Today, I am grateful to you for reading this article. Thank you, now follow my advice and go have a nap in the park!