Oprah. Steve Jobs. Tony Robbins. They couldn't be more different people. But they--and dozens of other successful leaders like them--all emphasize the importance of positive daily routines. So what does your own daily routine look like? If it includes these four common habits, it's time to shift gears and make some healthy swaps.
1. You immediately get on your mobile device or computer.
According to fatigue specialist Clinton Marquardt, it takes at least 30 minutes for your brain to move from slow-frequency (recuperation, rest) to faster-frequency (alert) brain-wave states. Morning is not the time to be reading or sending business emails or trying to make strategic plans, as you're less likely to process well and more prone to errors.
Reaching for technology also starts you thinking about what you need to do, not about what you're doing. Again, this can lead to silly mistakes. But more importantly, you lose the opportunity to be in the moment, stressing about what's upcoming rather than appreciating what's right in front of you. And that's a bummer, because your morning attitude often transfers over into your entire day.
Similarly, as Leanna Garfield of Business Insider reports, immediately checking your devices for alerts, messages, or other information can fuel the fear of missing out, framing the whole day around what you didn't experience, learn, or tackle. You end up anxious and feeling as if you need to play catch-up just to be competitive or happy.
- Before you get out of bed, starting from your head down, focus on each part of your body and how it feels. Slowly stretch, tighten, or wiggle those areas as you go.
- Before you get out of bed, spend three minutes making a mental list of what you're grateful for.
- Take a cold shower (or at least turn down the heat at the end).
- Do gentle exercise such as yoga or taking a walk.
- Prepare and eat a fully balanced breakfast.
- Listen to fast-paced, upbeat music you enjoy.
2. You hit the work cafeteria whenever you can squeeze it in (and then eat at your desk).
Although many companies are getting better at providing healthier eating options, many cafeterias still have room for improvement. For instance, they might provide a pasta dish, but it likely won't be whole wheat, and the sauce will very likely be high in sugar, fat, or sodium. Portions also aren't tailored in many cases, and you might be tempted to eat based on how those around you are noshing. It's a recipe for energy dips and weight gain. Plus, cafeteria fare can take a bite out of your wallet. And if you eat at your desk, you get zero chance to bond with your team members.
- Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to figure out the ideal calorie and nutrient/vitamin intake for you, taking into consideration unique needs or conditions like diabetes.
- Prepare pre-packed lunches and snacks to bring. Keep them in the break room, not at your desk.
- Schedule your lunch for a specific time of day so you know when you'll have a chance to rest and get fuel.
- Invite co-workers to eat lunch with you outside or in the break room.
- Slow down your eating, being mindful of the taste, color, texture, and smell of the meal.
- Take at least five minutes to just decompress without looking at a screen or having a document in your hands. Read a book, listen to music, or call a friend.
3. You insert two-minute exercise sessions into your downtime.
Hate to tell you, but trying to exercise in the two minutes you have between meetings isn't going to burn enough calories for you to manage your weight. And if you're reaching for those itty-bitty weights in your drawer, you need time to do more repetitions if you're going to see any strength gains. You probably won't go all out in a suit or heels, either.
Save your exercise for before or after work, when you can actually hit the company or local gym for at least 10 minutes at a time, grab heavier weights, and work at an intensity that gets your heart rate up. Don't buy into the idea that you don't have time, especially when exercise can be a way to vent all the stress you've built up throughout the day. If you have time for No. 4 below, there's time to help your body out! When your health and quality of life depend on taking care of yourself, exercise has to be a priority.
4. You unwind with a big, late meal and some TV/internet.
Big, late meals and the blue light from screens are both known to screw with your sleep. And if you don't sleep, just about every bodily function gets thrown off, worsening your performance, mood, and health.
- Eat more at breakfast and lunch and make dinner your lightest meal, focusing on low-glycemic vegetables and fruits and lean proteins like chicken.
- If you're ravenous, eat a light snack of no more than 200 calories that's carbohydrate- and protein-balanced, such as an apple with peanut butter.
- Listen to music, an audiobook, or your favorite podcast.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Read physical books, magazines, or newsletters.
- Make your to-do list for the next day.
As you change your routine, don't be afraid to experiment a little. Everyone is unique. But whatever you do, respect your body and let science be your guide.