15 Daily Habits to Improve My Well-Being

I covered this topic on a podcast recently and thought it would be a good idea to present it in written form as well. If you prefer to listen rather than read, bang it here.

As I have gotten older, taking better care of myself has become a priority. My health, my brain, my happiness…all things I took for granted at a young age have stepped to the forefront of my life. I am constantly on the lookout for ways to grow. I have incorporated a number of habits and daily rituals that I believe improve my overall well-being.

Here are 15 of them that I currently try to do on a regular basis.

1) Sleep Cycle app

Every night when I go to sleep I turn this on and place the phone under my sheet and on top of my mattress (in airplane mode…see #15, below). The app measures and tracks sleep patterns. It also acts as my alarm clock, which is my personal favorite feature as it wakes me up at the optimal moment based on my REM cycle. I set the alarm for 6:05AM, which lets the app know it is okay to wake me up anytime between 5:35–6:05AM, at the best possible minute. Waking up is the first thing we do every day, so why not try to optimize it?

2) Athletic Greens

A ‘superfood cocktail’ that I drink first thing in the morning. It is a simple packet of powder that mixes with ice water. I use this as my nutritional insurance, so if I don’t consume any nutrients in a given day, this covers me, and then some.

3) Meditate

I’ve been pretty bad at keeping up with my meditation practice over the past handful of months, but have recently made adjustments to my schedule to get back on track and it is working. The most common unifying factor that I have seen in successful people is meditation.

I fully believe in the benefits and highly recommend you give it a shot. It can be difficult at first, and certainly frustrating, but patience will be worth it in the long run. You should make this your ‘Trump Stakes’ to stay on course.

I use the app Calm for guided mediation.

4) Exercise

Probably the most obvious and common on this list. I personally like to switch my exercise routine up every few months to try new things. My goal is to do something 5–6 days each week, even if the last one is a simple walk over a bridge in NYC on the weekend.

5) Paleo

I like to experiment with my diet also. I have tried a meatless month, slow-carb diet, weight watchers, etc. over the past handful of years. I keep coming back to the principles of Paleo.

A typical day of meals includes eggs and avocado for breakfast, although I’ve recently brought sardines into the mix. Don’t laugh. Do you know how fuckin’ healthy these little suckers are? Off the charts. Lunch is usually a salad with protein. Dinner, a protein with a vegetable, but have also gotten into cooking Paleo compliant dishes, variations of ‘famous’ meals but with a twist that makes them acceptable. Snacks are usually fruit, a Larabar, or nuts.

Overall just trying to avoid dairy, grains, sugars, and limit alcohol, at least during the week. On many weekends I am in full ‘dick mode’ and consume most of the above listed items, sometimes with reckless abandon.

6) Read

I’ve always been inconsistent with my reading. I go through periods where I read 4 books in a row and then don’t read anything for months. Looking back, it is something I wish I did more of as a kid. I’ve made a big effort this year to make it part of my day and it has paid off as I’m at a 1 book per month pace. I try to read a little bit each day, even if only for 10 minutes.

Specifically referring to books here. I consume plenty of blogs and articles, online, every day.

7) Standing Desk

Sitting is the new smoking.

I still have a chair and definitely take breaks to sit during the day but most of the time (like right now as I type) I am standing at my desk. Many standing desks are expensive but I found an easy alternative, which is just to essentially put a small desk on top of your real desk.

I use this little guy.

All kids in school should be standing.

8) Animals

I love animals. I love positive animal stories. I noticed that every time I see one of these I’m just so fucking happy. I’ve donated to and signed petitions for a number of animal rights associations and causes over the years and often get emails of success stories (people out there are doing incredible work).

I decided that I can be proactive about this and check on my own, so I’ve been trying to search out a positive animal story each day. Why not facilitate as many ‘bursts of joy’ in a given day as possible?

9) Music

Music has always been a huge part of my life. It was my Bar-Mitzvah theme. I have a Wu-Tang tattoo. You get the point.

I do also enjoy podcasts, obviously, and as that medium has emerged I found myself getting away from consistent music intake. The fact that there have been a minimal amount of quality rap records this century hasn’t helped, either.

Lately I have been making an effort to get music back into my life on a regular basis. I almost always put it on after work when playing with my son, as I want music to be a big part of his life as well. Working (standing) at my desk, walking around the city, and cooking dinner give me ample opportunity to throw something on. My mood and the setting will dictate the beats I select, but mostly music just makes me happy.

10) Gratitude

This is a new one for me but something I think is very important. I’ve jumped in using an app called the Five Minute Journal. They also offer a physical option if you prefer to write.

Each night the app sends me a reminder notification at 9:44PM. I then open the app and type in 3 things from the day that I am thankful for. It can be super simple, like the weather or my workout or my son saying a new word, or something much bigger. Up to you. The point is to reflect on the positive things that happen because they are out there, and often overlooked.

11) Tea

I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life, so this is not a caffeine replacement. Caffeine is a drug and I try to stay away from it.

Right now I have two teas that I drink, decaf green and pu-erh.

Lately I have been adding a little turmeric for all of it’s benefits.

If I’m feeling really crazy and go for a two-a-day, meaning a tea in the AM, I will add coconut oil, which is great for the brain.

12) Way of Life app

The way I track most of the habits on this list. Create a list of habits you want to track, which can be all-inclusive or can be separated into health, work, family, for example.

At 10:01PM I receive a notification and open the app to fill out my list for the day. It is a simple ‘green for yes’ and ‘red for no’ system. You can then track over time which habits you are excelling at and which you need to improve upon.

The app also allows sharing via email or social media. It is good practice to ‘put things out there’ in order to hold yourself accountable.

13) Floss

I never miss a night, pretty much. Not only is flossing beneficial for your teeth but actually helps prevent heart disease too.

14) Vitamins/Supplements

At the moment my daily dose is Fish Oil and Probiotics. I am looking into Krill Oil as a Fish alternative, but one way or another I want those Omega-3s.

As for probiotics, it is vital to take care of your gut. Billions (yes, with a ‘B’) of bacteria live in there and it is the place where most diseases originate. You want to be nice to these bacteria. I don’t enjoy most foods that are good for the gut such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha, so I go the pill route.

15) Airplane Mode

No distractions during sleep. I do a poor job prioritizing sleep considering how important it is. I should be getting to bed earlier in order to get a solid 8 hours, but that rarely happens. However, once I do get into bed I don’t want any disruptions (please send this concept along to my 2yr old and my forthcoming baby, thanks) so the phone goes into airplane mode. No rings, buzzes, bells, vibrations, messing around with my precious sleep time.

Do I do all of these 15 things every single day? No, but I’m pretty good overall. Including these habits in my day sets up a structure for success, which in this case is doing what I can to improve my well-being.

What works for me may not work for you. Let me know what habits and routines you rely on and believe in. Would love to discuss.

Email me chris@chrisheller.me or reach me on Twitter.