It’s clear that today’s world is about making things happen quickly. From our Wi-Fi to the food we eat, we’re used to everything moving quickly and efficiently. With so much emphasis on things moving fast, we barely get time to think. What’s in that sandwich we got from that fast food place? What about the chips we ate as a snack, do we know what’s in it and how it affects our bodies? This isn’t meant to convince you to never eat fast food again, but what else does it really do for you besides the taste and the fact that it leaves you full? On days when we feel sluggish, or as if we just want to crawl back in bed, several habits we’re accustomed to just make us sink deeper into that lazy, passive feeling. The tips below will give you some recommendations about what you can do to feel your best!
Feeling your best involves being healthy. Healthiness doesn’t just come from being physically active, and while exercise is important, what you eat determines how you feel as well. What’s important to keep in mind is that statements such as “I’ll never eat unhealthy again” may work for some people, but they’re in the minority. Fast food and processed food is everywhere and it’s cheap, which makes it even harder to avoid. Eating well doesn’t necessarily have to mean that your diet is made up exclusively of kale and fruit, it means that you focus on getting the right foods in your body, but you also indulge in unhealthy foods occasionally.
Unhealthy foods are sometimes referred to as “guilty pleasures”, and while it’s not wrong to use that term, perhaps the “guilty” part should be taken out. To have a healthy relationship with the food that goes in your body, it’s necessary to step back and evaluate how we see food. There is no need to feel guilty when it comes to eating. Of course, eating an entire chocolate cake isn’t good, but having one or two slices won’t kill you.
It can be hard to eat healthy if you’re juggling school, work, or both, but it doesn’t have to be an impossible task. By the time many of us get home, we’re tired and more likely to pick something up along the way or order takeout, but cooking doesn’t have to be a hassle. It can even be a relaxing experience for you. 30 minutes or less is all you need for many healthy recipes. If you keep products at home such as pasta, salad ingredients, frozen chicken, etc.… then you won’t have to worry about what you’ll eat.
Stocking up on ingredients that are easy to make while also nutritious will help a lot if you would like to change your eating habits. If you always have pasta and rice in your pantry, it can be the perfect companion to some grilled shrimp or chicken with vegetables. The only work involved is chopping vegetables, boiling pasta, and seasoning and cooking a portion of chicken.
The goal is to always have healthy, wholesome ingredients on hand, so you’re not always tempted to opt for junk food. Some basic foods and ingredients that are convenient to keep in your kitchen include fruits (great for smoothies and snacking), olive oil (you can cook with it and season salads with it), vegetables (perfect as a side dish or for making great salads), lunch meats such as turkey, bread, and frozen foods such as shrimp or chicken breasts. Many websites offer healthy and fast recipes with these simple ingredients. By making your food yourself, you can always be sure that you know exactly what goes into it. As long as you’re giving your body healthy, nutritious foods, for the most part, indulging in less healthy alternatives occasionally is completely acceptable!
You might have heard this term before. In case you don’t know exactly what self-care refers to, an article from the Tiny Buddha website defines it very well: “It’s the constant repetition of many tiny habits, which together soothe you and make sure you’re at your optimum—emotionally, physically, and mentally. Self-care reminds you to take care of yourself, something that many of us forget to do because of how hectic our lives can be. Stopping to focus just on yourself is also difficult because of the guilt people sometimes associate with taking time to look after themselves.
When your mind is constantly focused on deadlines, appointments, exams, your job, and all the other responsibilities we have, it’s not surprising that we forget to look after ourselves, or even feel a sense of guilt when you finally do something for yourself because you keep being reminded you should be working on “X” thing or you should call “X” person. This isn’t to say you should completely get rid of any responsibilities and only focus on what makes you feel good, but you should take a few minutes each day to focus on your well-being.
Self-care ranges from taking a relaxing shower, to asking for help when you need it or confiding in someone. Even if you feel you can’t talk to anyone, remember you can always reach out to the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) on campus. Don’t be afraid to take some time to do things such as taking a nap, go for a walk, have a good laugh, or just close your eyes and clear your mind. To do well feel your best, you must be happy first.
After tackling food and self-care, your surroundings are another component of making you feel your best. What do you like? What colors attract you? What are your hobbies? This isn’t a dating website questionnaire, but asking yourself these questions can help you figure out how to surround yourself with things that provide you with comfort. If you often find yourself stressed or a bit anxious, sometimes focusing on something like the colors in your bedroom, or looking at that vacation picture that brings back a lot of fond memories can soothe you.
The space around you can have an impact on the way you feel. In The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton compares walking into a McDonalds versus walking into the Westminster Cathedral in London. The combination of harsh lighting, plastic furniture and fluorescent colors at the McDonald’s makes you feel anxious and rushed. In contrast, the cathedral makes you feel more reverent, and not rushed. The quietness of the space gives you a feeling as if you could stay there for a long time. To give you something else to think about, imagine Starbucks. Their aim is to create an easy-going, relaxed environment, where clients can consume their products. And feel “care-free”, at least for a few minutes. They understand that as humans, we’re all drawn to attractive spaces.
Similar to beauty, what we consider an attractive space differs for each person. Some people find calmness in a quiet café where they can meet a friend or enjoy a book, while some people are drawn to large, loud malls because their idea of comfort is the hustle and bustle of the people around them. The main point here is that everyone has an idea of a space where they can relax and feel at ease. What is it for you? If it’s your bedroom, then make sure that space is filled with things that comfort you, whether it’s pictures, a color scheme, or whatever makes you feel good. If it’s a café or restaurant take some time to go there every once in awhile, especially if you’re feeling down. If you choose to be in surroundings that make you feel good, then you’ve found a place where you can recharge your “mental batteries” and let go of things for a while.
Feeling your best is sometimes a challenge, but it’s important to dedicate some time to healthy habits (and fun ones too) that better your well-being. Hopefully, these tips are helpful, and you can take away a few things from them! Remember that feeling your best always starts from the inside.