Most of us would like to like to believe that each day has the potential to be a day lived to the fullest. While many circumstances are beyond our control like the weather, the traffic, or the mood of the people you encounter, there are a few habits you can establish that will help you greet each day with a better attitude and the resilience you need to withstand everyday stressors.
So here is my formula: Pray, Eat Real Food, Exercise daily, Connect, make Time for rest. In case you didn’t see my cleverly placed accents, the acronym for my formula is P.E.R.F.E.C.T.
Let me break it down:
Pray – For me, it is important to acknowledge that I am not the center of the Universe and that God is in control! I start my day thanking Him for Grace, reading His Word, and asking for guidance to get through whatever the day may bring.This puts me in the right frame of mind to meet the challenges of the day, knowing I don't have to face it alone. For you, your belief system may be similar, or very different than mine, but I hope that you spend some time each day drawing on a source that gives you inspiration, strength, and motivation.
Eat Real Food – A Healthy outlook begins with a healthy body. Eating real food may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but in the world we live in today, the line between real food and “edible food-like substances” has blurred. When you buy food that comes in a package with long, sometimes unpronounceable ingredient lists, you are no longer buying REAL food. You are buying processed food full of stripped down and damaged ingredients, added sugars, preservatives, chemicals, artificial colors, artificial flavors, stabilizers, emulsifiers, binders, fillers, and the list goes on and on. Instead, buy properly sourced whole single ingredient foods, like vegetables, fruits, properly sourced meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, raw or cultured dairy and quality fats. For many healthy active people, whole grains and legumes can also be healthy choices when they are prepared with traditional preparation techniques and eaten in moderation. No two people will eat the exact same foods, but one thing should be universal – AVOID PROCESSED FOOD!
Does that mean you have to actually cook? (Insert mock horrified expression) YES! Unless you can afford a personal chef, it does mean you have to prepare most of your own food. Don’t be intimidated, it doesn’t have to be complicated!
Exercise daily – Move your body! You don’t have to hit the gym every day, but you do need to move every day. It has been said that “sitting is the new smoking”. Get up - take a walk, ride a bike, swim at a leisurely pace, take a gentle flow yoga or Tai Chi class, for example. Do something you enjoy and it won’t seem like “exercise” as your body burns fat! When you are ready, a few times a week, step up the intensity to a level that is challenging but not exhausting. Weight lifting, circuit training, and high intensity interval training are all ways to increase metabolism, encourage the release of growth hormone, and add lean muscle. To avoid injury, consult with a fitness trainer for proper technique when you begin something new.
Connect – with nature, with people you love, with activities or hobbies that you are passionate about. These are the things that give your life meaning and significance. If this happens to include your work, then lucky you! If not, then make the time to include these connections in your day. You may wish someday that you had not spent so much time chasing the perceived “urgencies” in life. You will never, however, regret spending time doing what you love, with the people you love.
Time for rest - sleep needs vary slightly from person to person, but according to the National Institutes of Health, “most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best”. Unfortunately, most adults get less than seven hours of sleep per night. Many people try to get by on as little sleep as possible, even priding themselves on the claim that they can get by without much sleep (as if needing sleep should be seen as a weakness) Our daily lives are filled with many things that seem more interesting or important than sleep, but just as nutrition and exercise are necessary for vibrant health, so is sleep. There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on, and the amount of quality sleep you need to function at your best. While you are sleeping, your body is busy repairing, restoring, and detoxifying. Sleep deprivation cuts these important maintenance activities short. The quantity (and quality) of your sleep directly affects things like mental sharpness, productivity, emotional stability, creativity, physical energy, immunity and even weight. Chronic sleep deprivation can result in an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. The best way determine if you're getting enough sleep needs is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. If you're sleeping enough hours, you'll feel energetic and alert all day long until bedtime - no mid day dips or crashes. Make sleep a priority.
Now, will you actually have a PERFECT day if you do all these things? I suppose that depends on how you define perfect. But I am certain that by establishing these habits, you will give yourself the best chance for a pretty great one! Try it!