As the weather begins to trend in a positive direction, it’s not uncommon to notice more ‘things’ happening all around you. All of a sudden the sound of a lawnmower becomes commonplace in the evening, followed by the barks of a dog while chasing a squirrel around the backyard. Instead of a cup of hot tea or coffee in the evening, suddenly you find yourself craving a lemonade or pop (as we call it here in the Midwest – not soda!).
While not the usual sights and sounds heard in the winter months of December and January, they have now become something you expect to encounter on a daily basis. It’s almost as if people are rejuvenated and more apt to do anything – just because the weather is great.
If you begin to peel back the onion a bit more, then you will soon recognize that there are thousands of routine actions that you can choose to perform. It’s common for most that you wake up before the sun rises and go to bed when the sun sets. It’s common that people eat breakfast in the morning and dinner in the evening. In thinking about these actions, it’s almost as though they have become societal norms, and it’s easier to abide by them than go against the grain.
I’m curious to know how long it took for these everyday actions to become a routine item on everyone’s to-do list. Over the past week, in thinking about this topic, it actually alarms me a bit at how some of the most routine things you can do as humans (and healthy) are the least commonly practiced things in your life.
Walking More, Walking Often
Two years ago I was living in Guatemala. In a town where I had two means of transportation – the public transportation (‘chicken buses’ packed full of 80-100 people) or my two feet. I’d venture to say at least 90% of the time I chose to walk wherever I needed to go. Mile and a half to where I volunteered – no big deal (walk), and I will do so amid hundreds of other locals doing the same thing. Oh yeah, mile and half back from the youth center to my apartment – I’d walk that also. Throw in the extra walking throughout the city to the market, a restaurant or the soccer stadium. Several miles by day’s end.
When I returned to the US, that mile and a half immediately became a burden to walk. Why should I, I have a car right? Just last weekend my fiancé and I walked the half mile to church, and that’s when she said it, “walking is such a common thing that is uncommonly done”. And she is right. Hell, I’m guilty of it. I find myself driving around Kroger’s parking lot looking for the closest space to the front doors, only so I can say, “king of the castle!”
It’s difficult when our jobs have us tied up behind a desk all day. I understand it’s hard when you find yourself running your kids all over town to practices and games. Start small. Begin parking at the end of the row. Start walking three blocks to the corner mart. Walk up and down your driveway for 15 minutes twice a day. Begin to make this common action something that you do more often.
Drinking More of This and Less of That
Would it blow your mind to know that over half of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee everyday? Would it have you on the edge of your seat if you knew that 2/3 of Americans don’t drink the recommended daily amount of 2-3 quarts of water?
You are surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of different beverage choices. From pop to beer to coffee to tea to sports drinks to wine there are so many options. The last time I checked, all of those choices had an ingredient label, and anytime there are ingredients, there are likely to be items that don’t ‘enhance’ your overall health. Water, yeah it takes the win. It’s only ingredient? You guessed it, water.
Just a few examples of why drinking water is beneficial to our well-being even though 2/3 of Americans don’t drink enough.
- Promotes weight loss
- Improves Skin Complexion
- Natural headache remedy
- Boosts energy
- Saves money
The next time you find yourself out roasting in the sun on a hot summer day, try refreshing with a glass of cold water. You just might be surprised at how good it tastes!
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Tests to study for, papers to write, deadlines to meet. Early morning appointment, trying to beat traffic, hitting the gym when it opens at 5am. It’s easy to become caught up in making sure that you check off everything that you have on your daily chore list. Before you know it, the kids are in bed, it’s 10PM and you still have to get all of your things ready for the next day.
By the time you get to bed it’s maybe 11:00, sometimes 11:30, and it doesn’t seem like your head has even hit the pillow before 5am rolls around so that you can hit the gym real quick and get back home to get ready for work and eat breakfast – all before the kids wake up to help them get ready.
It doesn’t have to be the kids that are keeping you up, it could be the overflowing email inbox, project deadline or even that late night TV show that you like. On Tuesday mornings you still feel strong and energized, but come Thursday and Friday, you find yourself praying that the day will be over so you can get to the weekend.
I have a secret to tell you. You don’t have to feel like that on Friday. It is your every right to feel just as good on Friday as you did on Monday. It’s a common practice to go to bed between 9-10PM, but how many are actually doing so? My intuition tells me that there are quite a few of you out there who are up late at night hootin’ with the owls while also getting up early and soaring with the eagles.
Lack of sleep leads to lack of productivity. When you can’t be productive, then it becomes difficult to reach your full potential. If your full potential isn’t being reach, then one can only imagine what you could achieve if you were firing on all cylinders.
Do the Common Thing
As you find yourself going about your week, begin to think with simplicity. The three examples given today are only the beginning of a short list of items that could be here. Think simply, live easily.
- My body is stiff – walk to the street corner and back
- I’m thirsty – drink water
- I’m tired – go to bed
Begin to think of these practices as common. Once you feel you have a grasp on these, then begin to implement another small change that makes an uncommon action a common practice. Soon, you will find comfort in these habits and they will be something that you enjoy doing. After all, bad habits are hard to break, but good habits are even harder.