Easy self-improvement tips
Lately, there have been a lot of posts on social media saying that we should pick up a new skill, hone a talent, work out until we achieve our body goals, or create something since we have plenty of time for these activities.
For those who do not have the luxury to do so due to lack of space, resources, or have more pressing needs at hand, it’s easy to feel inadequate on top of all the anxiety and fear from the Covid-19 situation.
The last thing you’d want to feel is guilt or a sense of failure for not accomplishing anything noteworthy – there’s enough negativity as it is. Here are some easy self-improvement tips to help you to combat the blues and stay sane at the same time.
1. Practice your cooking skills
Image credit: @jamiegrimstad
Indulging in unhealthy guilty pleasures every now and then is forgivable, but eating instant noodles or microwaved meals every day can be detrimental to both your body and mood.
Eating right should be of utmost importance in your daily life, but especially more so now when everyone’s health is at risk. In fact, health is not just physical, but also mental. Nutrition experts have agreed that the food you eat can influence your mood.
Stock your kitchen with ingredients such as chicken breast, salmon, broccoli, beans, nuts and sardines. These foods are high in fibre, low in saturated fat, and are known to boost the production of serotonin, a feel-good hormone to uplift your spirits.
2. Break a sweat as often as you can
Image credit: @theflowstudio
On a normal day, a human will walk an average of 4,000 to 18,000 steps and burn 1,600 to 3,000 calories. We move about a lot more when we’re out, and this contributes to a decent level of fitness for most people.
Not everyone can be the person who ran a marathon at home, but it isn’t hard to just run laps in your living room.
Download a running app or follow a live exercise class, put in your earphones, and pretend you’re on the track. It doesn’t matter if you run 3 or 300 rounds. What matters is that you break a sweat, and the endorphins that your body produces during a workout will make you feel enormously better.
3. Grow plants in your home
Image credit: @steffffix
The thought of having too much time on our hands and not being productive can drive some people into a self-loathing spiral. Instead of berating yourself over it, why not find some easy tasks to commit yourself to?
Growing plants in your home is straightforward enough, but it still requires care and attention that can help channel your energy positively. The simple act of focusing on gardening can be a huge mood-booster, while having greenery around you will soothe your mind, improve productivity and reduce stress.
Most beginners start off with succulents and cacti as they’re easy to grow and hard to kill. Other houseplants such as The Snake Plant, Spider Plant, Peace Lily and Lucky Bamboo are also suited for first-timers who want to test out their green thumb.
4. Stay connected to people virtually
Image credit: @venaamorisvii
If you’re with loved ones during the lockdown, consider yourself extremely lucky because there are those who are alone in isolation. That can be challenging to bear for an extended period of time.
Human beings are social animals and craving connection is programmed in our biology. Although physical interactions are not allowed, emotional connections can still be fostered thanks to technology.
Whether you have someone to check in on or need support from others, schedule some time every day to video call a loved one. With the wide variety of video call and group gaming apps that are available, hanging out with friends virtually can feel just as close and engaging as interacting in person.
5. Dedicate 10 minutes every day to meditate
Image credit: @theflowstudio
Google searches for information on meditation have been surging as more countries go on lockdown. This goes to show that you are not alone out there, as our quarantined peeps around the world are also seeking for a peace of mind and mental clarity to get through these times.
Meditating is an ancient practice that aims to quiet the mind and make us less reactive. It can also enrich immune response and reduce the chance of depression.
There are a number of meditation techniques, but the key is to find one that works for you and to stick to it consistently. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day and meditating is something that you need to practice daily, even for a short period, to achieve results.
In order to familiarise yourself, start off by downloading apps like Headspace. It has a bunch of helpful features like audio meditation guides, hundreds of articles for different states of mind, plus sleep and movement exercises.
6. KonMari your home
Image credit: @shelbyhjohnson
There’s a reason why Marie Kondo rose to fame with her KonMari method. Her philosophy is more than just organising and simplifying your home. She believes that decluttering your possessions and creating an inviting space is crucial for your mental health.
Besides the obvious, like feeling more at ease and comfortable in a clean and tidy home, you will also practice more gratitude if you are mindful of what you own and what you do not need.
You don’t have to do anything life-changing as per her book’s title, but do make it a point to get rid of old possessions that don’t bring you joy anymore. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, try redecorating the space that you spend most of your time in, like your work desk and your bedroom, to make quarantine a little more exciting.
7. Limit your social media usage
Image credit: The Verge
Resist the urge to scroll endlessly. There have been plenty of studies that show that people who spend a lot of time on social media are less happy than those who spend less time on it.
It doesn’t help that almost every social platform will be filled with news of the pandemic. While you should stay up to date with the latest events, try to strive for being informed, not overwhelmed with negative information – especially fake news that only supports fear-mongering.
Instead of refreshing your feed repeatedly, replace it with something else if you must be in the digital sphere – play multiplayer games to connect with friends, pick up a free digital class to broaden your skills, or read an ebook.
8. Stick to a routine
Image credit: @madetoplan
Before the MCO, we all had an unconscious routine set: wake up at the same time every day, go to work, eat lunch with colleagues, go home, eat dinner with family, unwind with Netflix or go to the gym, then sleep and repeat all over again the next day.
With working from home the new norm for many, some of us may feel a little disoriented since we’re stuck in the same place from day to night, with weekends being no different.
This is why it’s important to establish a clear routine at home. Set a fixed time for sleep, eat, work, entertainment, and exercise to train your subconscious to know when it’s time to do what.
Don’t stay up late into the night and sleep in every day just because you can. And when it’s time to have fun, you can devote your time to entertainment that you actually enjoy, not just mindlessly scrolling through social media or trying to exhaust everything on your Netflix to-watch list in one go. Recreation and leisure time should refresh you, not make you feel worse.
9. Create boundaries in your physical space
Image credit: @colorful_home_
Our variety of physical spaces pre-MCO has been reduced to just our homes during the pandemic. To help your mind acclimatise to this new environment, create physical spaces for exact purposes.
Some of you may do everything on your bed or the couch, but it’s time to ditch that if your home has other spaces you can use. Designate an area like the desk for work, and work only. Do not scroll through social media or watch Youtube videos on your laptop during working hours.
If you’re easily distracted, confine yourself to a room with minimal distractions and be strict about it. Limit movement by eliminating mindless wandering around the house. Yes, making repeated trips to the fridge isn’t a necessary activity.
Likewise, dedicate the living room to play time only, and the bedroom to sleep or unwind for the day. Once you get the hang of it, you will feel more productive and happy, and not feel like you’re constantly procrastinating and working at the same time.
Easy self-improvement tips that won’t trigger anxiety
It’s easy to get caught up in other people’s achievements and feel miserable about yourself for not rising to their level. While you can take it as a form of motivation, it’s also important to be aware of your own capabilities.
Accept that some things and actions are beyond your limits for now, and do not feel obliged to overexert yourself just to live up to the arbitrary expectations you see on social media.
Break down your goals and to-do list into small, measurable steps – take one day at a time, and do only the things that make you feel better. Remember that this too, shall pass.
For other MCO-related activities, check out:
- 8 fun and easy science experiments to try at home with your kids
- 7 home workouts using random household items
- 9 funny things Malaysians are doing to keep busy
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