10 Things You Should Do Every Day
Disclaimer: This is *gasp* not a food-focused post nor will I include a recipe.
In order to commemorate the end of undergrad, I wanted to share the best habits I have gained throughout my 22 years. These are several things I always come back to because they help me to be the best person I can be. Allow me to suggest 10 things you should attempt to do every day for your mind, body, and soul.
1. Make your bed every morning.
Adm. Bill McRaven, the top Navy SEAL who is head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, delivered a commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin in May and had this to say:
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
If you’re interested, you can watch the commencement speech or read the text here. Adm. McRaven gives ten very important lessons that he learned through basic SEAL training that I think are absolutely essential.
2. Stretch it out.
This is my grandma…just kidding (though my grandpa would always stretch like this)! Adopt stretching into your morning ritual. You will find yourself more energized, refreshed, and ready to take on the day. Even a couple of overhead reaches and toe touches to get your blood moving will better your morning, day, and long-term health. My favorite way to stretch in the morning is by doing this 5 minute easy yoga routine.
3. Take time to do what makes your soul happy.
As humans, we are naturally busy people. We’re constantly working and checking things off our list. We often forget to enjoy the world around us. Slow down. Make time for simple things that make every day special. Go for a nice little stroll. Indulge in a pastry from the local bakery. Soak up the sunlight with a good book. Stop and smell the roses, literally. Take some time to truly appreciate the beauty of life.
4. Prepare at least one meal.
And no, a bowl of cereal does not count (not unless you made the cereal from scratch…). Nowadays, food often is a mere tool towards satiating our hunger. We no longer think about what is in our food, its nutritional value, nor from where it came. If it’s fast, easy, and convenient, we’ll eat it. I challenge you to eat mindfully. Preparing a meal slows down the eating process so that you pay attention to what you are feeding yourself instead of merely stuffing your face. Be intentional about the foods you eat so that they nourish your body and don’t just fill your tummy. Learn to truly appreciate food, and you’ll be surprised by the change in your eating habits.
5. Keep a song in your heart.
If I had to choose between being able to walk and being able to hear, I would hands down choose hearing because music is such an immense part of my life. Singing has been scientifically proven to decrease stress, alleviate anxiety, and elevate endorphin levels. Music in general is just so good for the soul. It can relate the most intimate thoughts and feelings (I have recently become obsessed with Sam Smith – I love how he gets so emotional when he sings). It connects to the primal instincts of the heart. Music can heal your soul in a way like nothing else. Hum a little melody, strum that guitar, tap your toes to a beat, just get into some music!
I had to include this one because I am all about oral hygiene (I’m assuming and hoping that y’all already brush your teeth regularly). You may think that you don’t have anything stuck in between your teeth but once you floss, it’s amazing and horrifying to see the gunk that hides and can’t be removed by a toothbrush or mouthwash. Not flossing can have more adverse health effects than you think. By harboring bacteria in your mouth, you are significantly increasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other systemic illnesses. This is one of those little things that takes a minute to complete yet can benefit you in the long run.
This is my most crucial item on the list. My faith is everything to me so there is no purpose to my day if I don’t spend time with the ONE whom I love most. I like to reserve time every day to officially pray, but prayer doesn’t need to be limited to a specific period. Christ is constantly with us in everything that we think, do, or say. Don’t be so stuck in this world that you forget another exists.
For those of you who aren’t religious or even spiritual, take some time to reflect and meditate. We are always so busy DOing that we don’t give ourselves time to really THINK and ponder. Take a break from the craziness of life to journal, spend time alone with your thoughts, or just simply let your mind breathe.
8. Smile at a stranger.
Smile because you’re happy. Smile because you’re free. All too often we isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. We avoid eye contact with the person passing by us on the street. We awkwardly stare at the doors when we’re in an elevator with a stranger. We wait in line at a coffee shop and busy ourselves with our phone. A smile is a small gesture, but it speaks volumes. By smiling, you acknowledge the presence and dignity of the other individual. You can spread joy and love by this small act. Make someone’s day with a simple smile.
9. Get enough sleep.
Who doesn’t get enough sleep? GUILTY. As a recent college graduate, I frequently forwent (and admittedly still forgo) sleep because there was always something else I could do. We think we’re invincible. Psh, who needs sleep? Turns out, it’s quite crucial to get enough sleep. Depriving yourself of sleep has obvious immediate consequences such as decreased alertness and memory impairment. It also has long-term effects such as contributing to risk for heart attack, stroke, and mental impairment. Ideally, the average adult should get around 7 hours of sleep. Not getting a good night’s rest can put such a huge damper on your day so get your shuteye in! You will feel so much better and you won’t look twice your age 20 years from now, I promise.
The Huffington Post has an article here based on various studies that sheds some alarming light on the effects of sleep deprivation.
10. Say, “I love you”.
It doesn’t matter if you have to call them because they’re thousands of miles away, you’re fuming after an ugly fight, or even if you spent the entire day with them. Tell the people you care about that you love them. Life is short. Don’t let an opportunity go to waste when you can let someone know how truly important they are to you.
And there you have it: 10 things you should do every day. If you fail, no worries. Tomorrow is a new day. Get up and start again!
Here’s to a more fulfilling life,