Some people say life is what you make of it. While it’s hard to believe that chance doesn’t play a significant role in your fate, few can deny that the choices you make today influence your tomorrow. Therefore, I do everything I can now to set my future self up for health and happiness. By taking care of my financial, physical, emotional, and social spheres, I don’t guarantee success — but I give myself a better shot. Here are 8 things I do today to help myself tomorrow — which I recommend trying for yourself.
1. I save my pennies.
Poverty isn’t a minor inconvenience. It can cause severe hardships that result in psychological and physical health issues. It also claims lives. In fact, people with problem debt are three times more likely to attempt suicide in the future than those with positive net worth.
I can’t do anything about the lack of a social safety net that leaves hundreds of thousands bankrupt over medical bills each year. However, I can pad my emergency fund and keep my credit card balances low.
Next time you’re about to make a purchase, whether a new phone or a caramel macchiato, consider whether you really need it or if you’d be better off saving that dough.
2. I exercise.
Is it a challenge to get off the couch some days to exercise? Yes, for sure. However, I invariably feel better after a workout. According to Dr. I-Min Lee, a Harvard Medical School professor, even 75 minutes of brisk walking weekly can add two years to your life. Plus, it improves the quality of that time by keeping you mobile.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to architect a fancy routine. A post-dinner stroll could become that part of your day that you’re looking forward to — and it’s good for you!
3. I meal-prep.
Many people confuse meal-prepping with eating a defined diet each week. Don’t let lack of spontaneity fears keep you from improving your health in this way — you can still get creative.
My weekly prepping consists primarily of washing and chopping vegetables and fruit. Doing so requires minimal effort, whether I want to enjoy a salad or add some healthy toppings to a pizza. I also portion out snacks into individual containers and freeze things like these fantastic burritos for hectic lunches.
Try out a simple meal prep week or even just your snacks to start, then build up from there to more complex recipes in the future.
4. I embrace a primarily plant-based diet.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified processed meat (such as hot dogs) as a class 1 carcinogen due to colorectal risks. Red meat also receives a sketchy grade.
I opt for a primarily plant-based diet. Doing so helps me to control my weight without counting calories and provides a phytonutrient boost you can’t beat. Your body processes vitamins and minerals more effectively when they come from food, and veggies and fruits contain tons of these nutrients. In turn, this helps you in the future.
You may like more vegetables than you think. Challenge yourself to incorporate 1 new vegetable or fruit into your meals each week. You may end up finding your new favorite food.
5. I see my doctors regularly.
While I may not be able to prevent every illness, I can stop minor issues from becoming costly and potentially fatal nightmares. I see my health care team annually (at the very least) to screen for common diseases and degenerative disorders that are subtle yet progressive. If anything seems amiss, I can take swift action to correct the problem.
If you have insurance, then seriously, take advantage of it. If you don’t, then check out the free clinics in your area.
6. I volunteer.
Volunteering makes me feel good, and it also helped me make friends. When I coordinate with friends to do anything from walking shelter dogs to running a rally, I surround myself with positivity — no “negative Nancies” allowed. The satisfaction I get from helping others improves my sense of self-worth. Plus, I always welcome time spent with my squad.
Find a cause you care about and see what kinds of volunteering opportunities they have.
7. I do yoga and meditate.
Your mental health influences your physical well-being. Too much stress can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. I stay calm amid the pressure by practicing yoga and meditation daily. I like to start my morning with an uplifting guided meditation before I climb out of bed. To relax in the evening, I do 15-20 minutes of gentle restorative yoga.
Don’t write off meditation if you’ve never tried it. Download a meditation app and give it a shot!
8. I get adequate sleep.
Have you ever fallen asleep while driving? Nearly a quarter of fatal crashes occur when someone is too drowsy behind the wheel. I don’t want to become a statistic, so I honor my bedtime.
What’s more, when you don’t get enough rest, your immune system doesn’t have time to produce cytokines, proteins that fight infection. Plus, your cortisol levels increase, and an excess of this hormone can make you overeat and gain weight.
Even if you “feel fine” with 5-6 hours of sleep, don’t deprive your body of what it needs.
Practicing the eight things above helps me set my future self up for health and happiness. You may lack a crystal ball, but you can improve your chances of a brighter tomorrow by adopting these tips, too!