Due to work, social media, bills, and unexpected crises, living intentionally can sometimes feel impossible. However, actioning certain habits can help to calm the storm, improve your ability to handle stress, and truly enjoy your life. Below are some intentional habits for personal growth that you can make to improve your energy levels, financial wellness, and health.
1. Create and Follow a Bedtime Routine
Sleep is a crucial aspect of one’s health, and the importance of a sleep schedule is often forgotten. As an adult, it is key to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to support optimal functioning. Establishing an ideal sleep routine can include making changes such as limiting caffeine consumption, having a consistent bedtime, and adding sleep-enabling supplements to your evenings.
Make a plan for your evening routine and follow the same steps consistently to help prime your brain for bedtime and promote restorative sleep. Though it can feel like a chore, putting your sleep first is an essential step towards improving mental clarity and energy. So much of the stress we experience is due to lack of sleep. Healthy sleep will recharge your life and give you the energy and mental clarity you need to navigate the challenges of everyday life.
2. Ditch the Screens for Restorative Free Time
One of the most common cultural laments is that people feel they don’t have enough time to spend on themselves. The rise of the “hustle culture” has created the expectation that every waking moment has to be productive. Yet, after a busy day, it is easy to get sucked into the world of social media, a pastime that may have a serious impact on your mental health.
Excessive social media usage is linked to increased rates of depression, stress, and sleep issues. It is common for many professionals to spend all day on their computer screens, just to shift into checking social media the moment the workday is over. Negotiating a balance between your real and online life is key to improving your mental health and sleep, creating more time for things in life that really matter.
3. Prioritize your Financial Future
With all the economic and workplace changes that have happened in the past two years, many are reconsidering their financial futures. This can be a great motivator for you to start saving, investing, and planning for future milestones. Though all working adults past their 20s should put at least 10% towards retirement, immediate desires often outweigh investing for the future.
A great way to get started is to examine your cash flow and create a budget. There are a host of apps that can help you, or you can create a spreadsheet with income and spending. Additionally, it is a good idea to get familiar with your credit score. Knowing what credit score you need to buy a house is a great benchmark for your financial wellness. If you know your credit score falls below the thresholds required to allow you to make major life purchases, you can use that knowledge to motivate improvement. Creating a plan within your budget to allocate income towards outstanding debts can increase this metric over time.
Getting inspired is another great way to stay on track when creating a financial plan. It’s common to feel like you’re constantly battling the choice between instant gratification from a purchase versus saving for the future. To help you balance your priorities from impulsive spending, try writing out a list of how you envision your future in 10-15 years.
If you’d prefer something more visibly tangible, consider making a vision board with images of your dream life.
Search for houses in your dream location, vacations you’d like to go on, or other images of the life you envision and include them on the board. Having a reference for these goals is an incredible tool to remind yourself what you’re working towards, helping you to ditch impulse purchases and make smart spending decisions.
4. Focus on Movement
Most people know about the extensive benefits of exercise, and yet many fall short of the guidelines for how much one should exercise each week. One thing that can be off-putting to building an exercise routine is the toxic cultural discourse that equates exercise with weight loss and body size.
Something that can be helpful to focus on is finding movement that brings you joy, rather than punishing yourself with a high-intensity program. While some may be invigorated by this type of movement, it can be discouraging for those who haven’t built up a fitness routine. Since the benefits of exercise are still gained through moderate aerobic activity, you don’t need to do an hour of HIIT or extreme cardio to improve your health.
Brisk walking, dancing, or cycling are all gym-free activities that are enjoyable, social, and fun, taking the dread out of exercise. If you enjoy the gym but find yourself stagnating, explore group fitness classes that may be included in your membership. Many gyms offer creative and fun classes, like Latin dance, ballet barre, Pilates, and more. Classes can help direct your workout and spark a fun new interest that makes you want to come back again and again. When you choose to focus on the movement you love, the health benefits of exercise are far easier to achieve.
The Bottom Line
Changing your mentality about everyday habits is the best way to achieve personal growth. Making small changes and shifting to a future-focused attitude will encourage you to live a happier, healthier, and more successful life. Additionally, if you find yourself overwhelmed with anxiety about financial pressure, you can seek help through counseling. Our licensed counselors are available through our online counseling and therapy option, so you can receive help from the comfort of your own home. We also have therapists working in the office at this time–so if you live in West Michigan or Grand Rapids, MI area, you can see a therapist in person as well.