self-kindness-10-healthy basics

Self-Kindness 101: How many of these 10 healthy habits do you have?

Today is World Health Day. So, I would like to focus on something we rarely consider, especially when it’s satisfactory–our own health. Take a moment of self-kindness and consider: what are your top 10 healthy habits?

The Non-Negotiables

I always say it: life is busy. But, in my opinion, there are some non-negotiables– the basics I need to do to function well in my life. Why are these self-care essentials necessary? The answer makes me think of the spiel we hear on the airplane: “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”

Taking time to build a healthy lifestyle isn’t a splurge.

Taking time to build a healthy lifestyle isn’t a splurge. It’s an act of kindness to yourself and those around you. We must take care of ourselves to ensure we are able to be there for others.

How do our lists compare?

Through my years of experience and education, I’ve come up with my own top 10 non-negotiable healthy basics. I won’t pretend I do them all the time, but I am aware of them and do my best most of the time. It’s a process, right?

I’m curious how our lists compare. Here are my top 10 and a little information in case you’re interested. How many of these 10 healthy habits are on your list?

My Top 10 Healthy Habits

1. Eat right–as often as possible.

This is one of those things that is very personal, and of course, there is no one, right way. My greatest personal challenge? To only eat when I’m hungry.

“The exact make-up of a diversified, balanced and healthy diet will vary depending on individual characteristics (e.g. age, gender, lifestyle and degree of physical activity), cultural context, locally available foods and dietary customs. However, the basic principles of what constitutes a healthy diet remain the same.”

World Health Organization-healthy diet

2. Move my body often.

Since I’ve started working from home, I find this difficult. It amazes me that even with the opportunity to move around freely, I end up sedentary for long periods of time.

The recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise varies. But one thing everyone agrees on is that moving our bodies frequently and working functional training into our lives is a key to longevity. My mom has it figured out, though. Last time I tried to help her carry heavy grocery bags, she shooed me away, exclaiming, “This is my functional exercise!”

“Even if you dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to structured exercise (such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming), it’s still important to get up and move for at least a few minutes, many times throughout the day.”
five borough bike tour kindness matters
Pairing exercise with friends and a gorgeous day in the city=JOY

3. Get enough sleep.

I love this one. Even though I find it one of the most pleasurable basics, it’s usually the first one to go. Although I will say, if I am unable to get the 8 hours I need, I do try to work in a 20-minute nap. I find it a lot more refreshing than a cup of coffee.

One more thing. It’s common knowledge that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Did you know that research has shown that regular sleep patterns increase our life expectancy? Compelling.

“During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.”

4. Get outside every day.

Living in NYC has made this less enjoyable than my time in other, greener, cities. But I can always look up at the sky. Somehow, seeing the clouds and an occasional tree still refresh me.

Making the most of our environments can be challenging. I’ve been really impressed by my friend, Sammie, who moved to Norway. The frigid temperatures and short hours of light was an adjustment. But she embraced her new country: snowshoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. And made friends along the way!

“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well­being. You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”

– Lisa Nisbet, PhD, American Psychological Association
get outside NYC
Walking the dog in NYC can be quite a mood booster.

5. Engage with others.

My relationships, and the joy and laughter they bring me, are essential to my mental health. Even though I have some introverted tendencies and find being alone quite comfortable, I have learned that I must foster connection. Without it, over time, my emotional well-being suffers.

Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depressioncognitive declineAlzheimer’s disease, and even death.”

National Institute of Health

6. Make sure I’m hydrated.

Depending on your experience and knowledge, you may have strong feelings about how much water you should be getting. I think it is highly personal. How much did I exercise? Did I sweat a lot? What have I eaten? All these things and more affect how much water I need in a day.

A while back, when I moved from sunny Singapore to NYC, I conducted an experiment. I tracked my water intake and how I felt for a week. I figured out my own new optimal amount.

“It’s commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule). Although there’s little science behind this specific rule, staying hydrated is important.”

7 health benefits of water

7. Take care of my teeth and gums.

I find this one of the most annoying health basics. But it’s unexpectedly important.

“Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria — mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease. “

Mayo Clinic

8. Go easy on alcohol.

I know, this one is controversial. My rule of thumb: honesty with myself. Is my usage negatively impacting my well-being or performance? Is it affecting my relationships? As for drugs and tobacco, they’re not for me. But, I think the same rule of thumb can apply.

9. See the doctor regularly.

This is probably one that a lot of us put on the back burner. I found out the hard way that this is important, even when you’re young and healthy. I didn’t prioritize finding a primary care physician when I moved countries. Then, when I needed a qualified doctor and a referral to a specialist, I was unable to access one. I’ve also found that having baseline data (like mammograms and bloodwork) becomes more and more important as we get older.

“The recommendations regarding how often you should see your doctor for a check-up are based on your age, risk factors, and current health status. While opinions vary, routine physical exams are generally recommended once a year if you’re over the age of 50, and once every 3 years if you’re younger than 50 and in good health. If you have a chronic disease or other ongoing health issues, you should see your doctor more often, no matter how old you are.”

10. Care for others. Know how to do the Heimlich Maneuver or CPR or both!

It’s surprising how many people have used one or both techniques to save a life. I am one of those people.

When I was babysitting in high school, one of the children I was watching choked on a piece of candy. Fortunately, I had been trained to do the Heimlich and was not afraid to use it.

My college boyfriend kept his grandmother alive with CPR until emergency services arrived.

Click here for more information about the Heimlich. Contact your local health organization or Red Cross to find out how to sign-up for online or in-person CPR courses. Learning these life skills is a wise investment of time.

Self-Care is Self-Kindness

Prioritizing your own health is not selfish. It’s smart. How did your top 10 healthy habits compare with mine? Let me know what I should add to my list!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *