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Developing A Healthy Routine

Let's face it. People today are nothing if not busy. If you stop and look around, the majority of us are walking quickly, focused on some form of communication or mobile media device we feel naked without. Even when we travel, we each, on average, bring along at least two forms of mobile electronic equipment. (Confession: I had my laptop with me on a cruise through the Bahamas. There was no internet, but somehow leaving it behind felt wrong.) But busy isn't bad. It's the bad habits that we develop to deal with being busy that are hurting us.

The biggest problem: We are going too fast.

  • Commute fast
  • Eat fast
  • Talk fast

Why? Because we overload our agendas, and rush to get it all done.

What we don't seem to see, is that the quick pace we've adopted is counter productive. The more we add, the less we actually get done.

[caption id="attachment_1722" align="aligncenter" width="553" caption="It's silly, but there's a lot of truth in it."][/caption]

The Solution is in the Small Things.

Small changes in our lives can make all the difference in the world. Here are some suggestions on how to develop a new, more conscious, pace.

Add Some Movement to Your Life

We're not talking a marathon later today, but standing up and letting some blood circulate every hour or so, can prevent a whole range of bodily ills.

  • Walk around a bit.

Thirty minutes of exercise can sound daunting, but breaking it up into three 10 minute walks is not a bad way to get there. It all adds up, and makes a bigger difference in energy level and mood than you might think. Park further away, walk instead of riding the bus for two stops, nothing drastic.

Enjoy Your Meals

Taking the time to decompress, and gather your thoughts in the middle of the day, allows your brain to organize and gain perspective that is lost when we microwave a noodle dish, sit at a desk and pound the keyboard, fork hanging from mouth. Attractive.

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  • Put Down Everything. Yes, phone too.

No work at the table. Which means there should be an actual table involved in this scenario. Get rid of distractions like smart phones and paperwork, and look at what you're putting in your body. If it looks and tastes like sludge, you're either on some cleanse, or you are actually consuming something indefinably terrible. Stop it. You deserve better. Now that you're paying attention, you have more control over your diet. Not only focusing, but enjoying what you eat at a more leisurely pace gives your body time to tell you that you're full, allowing you to eat less than your normally rushed meal would have you consuming. The best part is that your mind has had time to rest enough that you feel satisfied, and able to continue with your day.

Treat Your Body With Respect

Until science can make us bionic (would be so awesome by the way), we need to treat the bodies we have nicely.

  • Ease up on thFile:"Jenny on the job - Gets her beauty sleep" - NARA - 514682.jpge abuse.

The body reacts to what's put in it. Fill it with saturated fats, sugars, tobacco smoke and hard liquors and it will make its opinion known. It's not just a hangover or heartburn for a day, the heart, lungs, liver etc. are feeling the long term negatives from inconsiderate abuse.

  • Sleep easy.

Getting enough sleep can not only help you focus the next day, it also gives your body and mind time to repair, reducing the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. Erratic sleep schedules can affect the type of rest your body gets, limiting the time spent in essential deep sleep. Setting an approximate bedtime isn't just for kids. Developing a routine sleep schedule is part of a healthy life at any age.

Work to Reduce Stress

  • Talk to people. Anyone.

Getting out of your head can be a nice break, and a big relief. If you work a job at a quiet desk, or spend your whole day wrangling kids, your brain is craving some peer socialization. It needs balance.

  • Develop a support group.

If everything you think or worry about is kept to yourself, unnecessary stress is created that will begin to manifest itself physically. A support group isn't necessarily strangers meeting because of a commonality (although that can be a really helpful setting for specific problems), it's a Thursday morning coffee or friday night cocktail with a trusted friend with whom you are free to talk about anything and everything, just to get it out.

  • Smile.

Sounds ridiculous, but studies have shown that smiling for no reason actually improves your mood. Smile the moment your get out of bed, and start off your day with a lighter step. Finding something to smile about really isn't that hard (look around you, seriously, you're fantastic), but even when you don't see it, do it anyway. I'm not kidding. Try it right now, I'll wait...

Focus on Someone Else

Sometimes, it's not all about you. Focus on someone or something else outside of yourself (not your family and not your friends, there's stress and drama there). Find something else that needs help, and give back.

    Hold my hand 

  • Volunteer.

Give your time to a local shelter (animal/people, you pick), and actively dedicate a chunk of time to others. There are bodies needed everywhere that can read to a kid, paint over graffiti, or simply show some much needed love to a neglected puppy. The redemptive act will not only get you outside your own bubble, it also reduces stress and gets you moving and active (see above and repeat).

A healthy routine, when treated as an ever evolving process full of small, meaningful changes, does more than just trim some fat or build endurance. It enriches our quality of life as a whole. Slowing down and consciously changing our patterns in life is about the lasting, long term effects made possible step by step.

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