I called one of my dear friends for advice. I’d just started my business and was living in New York City, trying every which way to piece together how to eat whole, healthy foods on my modest new business owner budget – and this friend had experience in that area.
“So, my question is, how do I eat organic?” I paused. “It just… doesn’t seem.... POSSIBLE...”
We both burst out laughing. It was funny because there was so much mutual understanding about the absurd struggle it can be to do very basic healthy things. So often, price is the elephant in the room when talking about wellness.
Here’s what I’ve learned both out of my own necessity and through my coaching practice, though. While some healthy products or services aren’t accessible to everyone – which in some cases is absolutely not okay – there are lots of free healthy habits that those at any income level should know about. And that’s what today’s post is all about.
As you’re reading the list, note which habits resonate with you the most and give them a try today. Pick and choose what works for you and adapt them to your own daily life if you’re inspired to do so.
Here are my top habits for well-being on a budget:
Research shows journaling – especially by hand rather than typing – can help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It may also improve your memory, boost your immune system, and better your mood.
You might decide to journal when you’re having a challenging moment and want to process your feelings, or simply as a regular daily check-in. Get creative with what you journal about, but an easy way to start is by doing stream of consciousness journaling – or getting still and writing the truest words you can find without worrying about the flow or mechanics of what you write. It can also be helpful to write about what you were grateful for that day, or about what you appreciate about yourself. As a last example, you could choose a relevant daily prompt to address a few days in a row.
Try to journal at least a couple days a week. The effects are cumulative, so the more regularly and consistently you do it, the better.
If you don’t already own a journal, writing on whatever paper you do have will work just fine. I’ve also found some amazing journals in the clearance sections of T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s – $3.99 for journals that last me about 5 months with daily journaling!
2. Keep your electronics dimmed and on Night Shift mode 24/7.
The writing’s on the wall – research shows blue light isn’t great for long-term eye health and it certainly disrupts our natural sleep patterns by suppressing melatonin production, which can result in hormone issues, weight loss resistance, and even weight gain.
When you put your devices on Night Shift mode and dim the brightness, some blue light gets cut out, lessening the impact.
It can take a couple days to get used to the darker, warmer-toned screen and you’ll want to go back to “normal” whenever you’re doing something that involves assessing color, like reviewing imagery for work or editing photos.
3. Drink more water!
I know I mention this a lot, but it can’t be said enough. Drinking more water is seriously one of the cheapest, easiest ways to have more energy, feel alert, and promote weight loss, if that’s your goal. Three liters a day is a good starting place for people of many body weights. If you have trouble getting yourself to drink water, try using a cute mug or bottle!
4. Recharge by spending time outdoors.
You know when you find yourself walking in nature, maybe in the forest or on the beach, and feel yourself exhale with peace? Nothing stands in for the effects of spending time outside, whether that’s taking a hike or walking outside after work.
During particularly busy days, I like to schedule a walk outside to reboot my brain. I’ll accomplish as much as I can, then lace up my shoes and briskly walk around my neighborhood for 30-60 minutes. The fresh air and sounds of chirping birds helps me recenter, feel more creative, and assess the best way to finish my work for the day.
5. Be screen-free for the first 30 minutes of the day.
There’s a big difference between scrolling through Instagram or replying to emails just after turning off your alarm and taking a bit of time to wake up without any external inputs from technology. Of course, there are some instances in which you might need to get online first thing, but often it can wait 30 minutes until you’ve had a glass of water, made the bed, brushed your teeth, or otherwise kicked off the day. Many people see a direct relationship between when they hit the ground running and have a reactive day, and conversely when they center themselves before the day begins and have a more proactive day.
6. Meditate. If you don’t already know how, get started with free guided meditations.
Time in meditation multiplies your time in focus and effectiveness. It can also reduce stress and anxiety and improve decision-making.
If you’re new to meditation, I recommend checking out the Insight Timer app (not a sponsored mention), which has 15,000+ free guided meditations.
7. Dim the lights to wind down for bedtime.
One way to help keep a healthy body clock and get adequate, restful sleep is to create the conditions for good sleep before bed. In other words, dim the lights to help your body get the cue that it’s night time and start shutting down.This can also help you psychologically wind down from the day and get more restful sleep.
Putting it into action
Pick a habit or two that spoke to you and try it out. Chances are if it stood out to you, you’ll get a lot out of it! As always, keep me posted on how it goes for you.
Journaling may improve memory, boost immune systems, and better moods:
Blue light can disrupt natural sleep patterns by suppressing melatonin production:
Sleep deprivation may result in hormone issues, weight loss resistance, and weight gain: