As we welcome in the new year, it's the perfect time to take stock of what healthy habits we want to form and maintain to ensure a healthy life going forward. With the start of a new year, comes a sense of renewal and a chance to start fresh.
Prefer to listen instead of read? Press play below.
Developing and maintaining healthy habits can help us achieve our health and wellness goals throughout the year. From improving our diet and exercising regularly to organizing our lives and getting enough sleep, there are many simple and beneficial habits that we can incorporate into our daily lives.
In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of forming healthy habits for our physical and mental well-being, and provide practical tips and advice for forming and maintaining healthy habits in the new year. Creating positive habits is the cornerstone to improving your executive functioning.
1. Read more
Reading is an important part of any professional career, but it also has benefits for other areas in your life. It sharpens the mind, increases knowledge, and allows professionals to stay abreast of the latest developments in their field. The ability to quickly and accurately process new information is essential in any successful professional environment.
Reading fiction can also give you an escape from the struggles in your life. It is often through fiction that we find we are able to process thoughts and emotions that we’ve been having. When you're stressed out, falling into a fantasy world is a great way to ease your mind.
Volunteering is an incredibly rewarding and worthwhile experience. It provides an opportunity to give back to the community, contribute to a noble cause and make a difference in the world. Volunteering can also be a great way to gain valuable experience, develop new skills, and expand your network. Moreover, it allows for the chance to meet people from all walks of life, learn about different cultures, and explore areas of interest.
Often, we think about volunteering as what we give to others to make the world better. However, when you give your time and energy to a cause that is important to you, you can also reap the benefits.
Sharing your knowledge and skills can help you become better at communicating. It can also improve your executive functioning because you will utilize those skills during your volunteer efforts. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. And it’s easier to practice when it’s for something that really matters to you.
Budgeting is a critical element of financial success. It is essential to understand one’s current financial situation and goals in order to build a budget that works. A budget should include income, expenses, and savings goals. It should be tailored to an individual’s lifestyle and circumstances.
To ensure success, a budget should be realistic and should be adjusted as needed. It is also important to track spending to ensure that one is meeting their goals. By following a budget, individuals can stay on track to reach their financial goals.
Budgeting is hard for many people with executive dysfunction. Have you ever heard of the ADHD tax? Basically, people with ADHD expect to pay more for things because they often pay late and get hit with extra fees. Understanding your budget and setting up systems to minimize this is all about executive functioning.
4. Improve your mindset
Having a positive mindset is essential for achieving success. If you don’t truly believe you can accomplish something, you won’t. Developing resilience and focusing on solutions rather than problems are key strategies for improving your mindset. Instead of wallowing in past mistakes and thinking you’re a failure, ask what you can learn from those mistakes. What could you have done differently? Then apply that to your life.
To get started, make an effort to shift your focus from what's missing or wrong to what's possible; look for the opportunities that exist in any situation. Additionally, take time to cultivate gratitude, emphasizing the good things in life.
Set realistic goals, and break them down into actionable steps. For people with executive function, this is not natural or easy. But with practice, you’ll get better. Celebrate small wins along the way and be sure to reward yourself for achieving them. Finally, seek out positive people and environments that will encourage and support you in your journey. With conscious effort, you can create a mindset that will help you reach your goals.
Sign up for my newsletter and receive a FREE downloadable Restructuring Thought Patterns Workbook.
5. Get moving
Physical activity has numerous benefits, both physical and mental. It can help reduce the risks of developing chronic diseases, improve physical fitness, promote mental well-being and boost self-esteem. Increasing the amount of physical activity one does can also promote better sleep, weight maintenance and reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
By now, you probably know that I am not some fitness guru. I’m not here to tell you that working out is going to fix your executive functioning. What I will say is that some kind of exercise or movement does make a difference in most of the clients I’ve worked with. If they have ADHD, exercise helps burn off some of the extra energy to calm their minds so they can focus. If they have anxiety or depression, movement helps break (or at least interrupt) the cycle of negativity. It’s important to make physical activity enjoyable or you won’t do it. It should also be part of a daily routine or the benefits aren’t really there.
6. Set your phone aside
Spending less time on your phone has many benefits. Not only can it allow for more quality time with family and friends, but it can also increase productivity. By limiting the amount of time spent scrolling through social media, we are better able to focus and concentrate on tasks at hand.
Additionally, limiting phone time can help reduce stress and anxiety, as we are less likely to encounter stressful situations on our phones. By being mindful of our phone usage, we can create more meaningful and productive experiences. Taking breaks from our phones can be beneficial for our mental and physical health.
I don’t expect anyone to give up their phones. When you’re working on building new habits, your phone can be a useful tool. However, the important thing is to be intentional with your phone use. Maybe you can try deleting some of the apps that stress you out. Then, you can only go to them if you’re at a computer and have to log in. You’re acting with intent, not doing things mindlessly.
7. Create specific goals
Setting monthly goals is an effective way to stay organized and motivated. Having a clear understanding of the tasks and objectives that need to be accomplished each month can help to stay focused and help to allocate resources appropriately. It is important to set realistic and attainable goals that are relevant. Additionally, goals should be measurable and have a timeline that can be tracked and monitored. If you’re not familiar with how to build SMART goals, read my post.
8. Structure your daily routine
The daily routine of a professional can vary widely depending on the nature of their job. If you are self-employed, your schedule might look different every day. If you have small children, you can never plan for the chaos they might create. However, you can plan a daily routine of things you can control. Giving yourself that sense of control over certain things, like the time you wake up or what you have for breakfast each day, can help you handle the things outside of your control a little better.
9. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a practice of bringing one's attention to the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can help to increase focus, reduce stress, and even boost productivity. Mindful breathing and meditation can be used to help stay in the present moment and make conscious decisions. This practice can also be used to stay aware of one's emotions, which can help to regulate responses to stressful situations.
10. Improve your sleep
Getting a good night's sleep is essential to overall health and well-being. Studies have shown that having a regular sleep-wake cycle can improve physical and mental health, help with concentration and productivity, and even improve relationships. For optimal sleep quality, it is important to create a comfortable sleep environment, establish a consistent sleep schedule, and avoid stimulants and digital devices before bedtime. Additionally, engaging in calming activities such as yoga, reading, or light stretching before bed can help promote relaxation and better sleep.
I’m going to talk a lot about journaling this month as a tool for improving your executive functioning. Journaling is an effective tool for enhancing productivity, creativity, and overall self-improvement. It can be used to help reflect on experiences, organize thoughts, and track progress. Doing so can provide clarity and insight into one's individual processes, as well as help to identify patterns and establish habits that can be beneficial.
Taking the time to actively reflect and write down thoughts can offer a greater understanding of your goals and objectives, and the steps required to reach them. Keeping a journal can also be a positive outlet for expressing and understanding emotions, providing you with the opportunity to better understand your own feelings. Thus, journaling can be an incredibly useful tool for developing a greater knowledge of yourself as well as managing daily life.
12. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is an important part of leading a successful, fulfilling life. Reflecting on the good that has occurred, the moments of joy, and the relationships that bring us happiness is essential to appreciating the present and having a positive outlook on the future. It is one way to help you learn to live in the moment and be more mindful.
13. Take self-care seriously
Self-care is an important aspect of living a healthy, balanced life. However, many people joke about it as though it’s not important. Moms, specifically, often feel guilty about taking time away from people and tasks in order to take care of themselves.
Self-care involves taking time for yourself to relax and recharge, engaging in activities that are enjoyable and meaningful, and creating healthy boundaries with others to ensure that you feel respected and valued. Self-care can help to reduce stress, improve physical and mental health, and help build resilience to cope with life’s challenges.
If the majority of your time is spent taking care of or managing others, it’s vital to take care of yourself. It is important to take the time to recognize when self-care is needed and to make it a priority. This could involve setting aside time for yourself each day, taking up a hobby or activity that brings you joy, or investing in a service or product that helps you feel relaxed and nurtured. Making self-care a priority is an important part of living a healthy and balanced life.
Ultimately, creating positive habits to improve executive functioning is a process that will vary by individual. While it may take some trial and error to find the right habits, it is well worth the effort to help improve executive functioning, enabling us to better manage our day-to-day lives.