Here’s what you can glean from my tried-and-true daily practices for a healthy and happy life.
I write about lifestyle habits impacting our creativity, productivity, health, well-being, and life satisfaction. Recently, I shared practical tips on how to initiate and maintain motivation despite the challenges of life in a health conference based on my research and experience.
A participant asked me about the most critical factor in maintaining motivation. Without hesitation, I replied, “habit building.” I was confident with my response because I only sustained my motivation by creating healthy habits and refining them for my changing needs and goals.
Motivation does not happen by itself. It requires a concerted effort to initiate and sustain purposefully by building healthy habits. To achieve this, we must keep our bodies and minds active in a growth state by developing healthy habits intentionally and diligently.
In this article, I will illustrate the habits that significantly improved my cognitive, physical, and mental health, supporting my aging body. These habits result from multiple micro practices I developed, refined, and integrated over the years. I narrate them as examples to give you ideas.
While some of my habits might not apply to others, the principles behind them can be valuable to customize. I aim to provide ideas for patterns that can serve you as you age and explain why you might need to refine and reinforce your habits.
As developing these habits took me over a half-century effort, they are comprehensive. Therefore, I will only touch on the key and customizable points and link relevant articles, as some concepts might require detailed explanations with examples.
I chose these specific habits under six categories as they cover various aspects of my life holistically. First, I’d like to give an overview of my habit-building process so that my points in the following sections might make sense to you.
My Approach to Habit Building
The brain works using routines and loves patterns to consume energy. The brain’s neural connections get more vigorous when we establish, refine, and strengthen the habits with constant practice. Using habits, we achieve more with less effort. Established routines can make our lives easier.
I refine and strengthen my habits for three reasons. The first one is improving physical health, the second one is enhancing cognitive reserves, and the third one is rewiring my brain for optimism, serenity, and joy.
I refine and strengthen my habits by measuring the progress and making incremental changes based on feedback from the data I gather objectively and subjectively.
As the body and mind are connected (psychosomatic), I factor in the physical and psychological aspects of habit-building. I also use scientific studies to validate the principles I use. I designed my lifestyle habits to support my cellular health and hormonal balance.
Our health starts with our cells, mitochondria, and genes managing our tissues, organs, and systems. Hormones, neurotransmitters, and enzymes determine our cellular, mitochondrial, and endocrine health. I improved my cellular health using four pronged-approached.
First, I cleared accumulated garbage from the cells. Second, I fed cells with premium power. Then, I rested cells to rejuvenate. And finally, I activated the self-healing mechanism for cells to form an endless energy source.
Improving cellular health can reduce chronic stress, lower inflammation, strengthen mitochondria, and initiate autophagy. As a result, our cellular health focus can improve metabolic, cardiovascular, immune, neurological, and mental health.
The most significant contribution to my cognitive health was balancing hormones and neurotransmitters. This item involved taking numerous actions in my life. Therefore, based on my research and experience, I coined hormonal intelligence.
Balancing our biochemicals with healthy lifestyle habits is possible. Balanced and optimized hormones and neurotransmitters are critical for optimal health, well-being, and life satisfaction.
In the next section, I summarize the critical points of habits I regularly refine and strengthen to maintain my physical and mental health. As they are comprehensive, I only focus on the essential items and link some points to relevant stories if you are interested in details.
1 — I plan proactively and produce pragmatically.
Planning can enhance creativity and productivity, both personally and professionally. Without a plan, starting any task can be daunting. Creating an outline for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activities is crucial in addressing procrastination and rewiring the mind for better problem-solving.
In my day-to-day activities, I don’t usually create extensive plans. Instead, I quickly visualize the task and jot down the major parts on my list. I then mature the schedule by adding or subtracting details while working on the task. However, in my profession, especially when designing a new product or service, I make detailed plans, considering all factors.
Starting a project can be the most challenging part, as our brains constantly look for ways to conserve energy, leading to laziness and procrastination. For me, the critical point is rewarding my brain by completing small tasks first from the plan. It releases a bit of dopamine to get me going.
In my earlier years, I struggled with a perfection problem. Living with analysis paralysis adversely affected my creativity and productivity. Therefore, I decided to choose imperfection as my perfection.
Imperfection does not mean producing sloppy work or unorganized results. Instead, we can define flaws as striving for excellence and achieving this goal by growing gradually and making incremental progress. My motto is to fail quickly, rapidly, and cheaply.
The fear of not reaching perfection can be detrimental to our psyche. Therefore, taking a realistic and pragmatic approach can be healthier. By being pragmatic and sensible, we can achieve more with less effort.
2 — I intentionally stimulate the body and mind.
It is possible to enhance brain function through various activities. Mundane tasks, such as household chores, can become cognitive boosters by engaging intentional focus, attention, task switching, working memory, and leveraging procedural memory.
Another effective method to boost brainpower is through neurobics, a mind gymnastics technique that uses daily activities to activate multiple brain regions, reinforce neural connections and expand the neural network to build better habits and use their powers.
I use many brain boosters, including dexterous writing, brushing my teeth with both hands, and walking barefoot on grass or beach sand with like-minded friends as a mind and body-stimulating activity.
Engaging in hobbies and fun activities can stimulate the body and mind. Completing even minor tasks releases rewarding neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which can build up over time to create healthy mental habits and increase happiness and joy.
Some people subscribe to brain-stimulating games such as Lumosity and Elevate. However, it’s essential to be mindful of addiction and allocate only a limited amount of time to these activities. I don’t spend more than 20 minutes on these games.
Optimizing neurochemicals is critical to our cognitive and neurological well-being. I learned to naturally increase the levels of these neurotransmitters by giving myself small rewards for each achievement.
Daily neurotransmitter optimization with everyday achievements can build up and rewire the brain for happiness and joy. This is a fundamental approach to building healthy and desired mental habits. The neuroplasticity of the brain creates new neural pathways and strengthens them gradually. I pay attention to BDNF-building activities for neural growth.
While the natural boosting of dopamine is beneficial, excessive spikes from unnatural sources can imbalance ΔFosB causing addiction and leading to mental health disorders. Therefore, it’s crucial to be mindful of our activities’ impact on the balance of our neurochemistry.
I also experimented with thermogenesis and found it to have many benefits, including improving mental health. Cold exposure, such as taking cold showers or ice baths and using dry saunas, can reduce stress and inflammation and enhance sleep quality. Replacing coffee with cold showers has been a game-changer for my vitality and health.
3 — I manage stress intentionally and persistently.
I have a multi-pronged approach to stress management as oxidative stress is a significant health risk leading to chronic inflammation, which created havoc in my life in my younger years.
Having experienced sleep deprivation and its adverse effects on my health, I learned the importance of restorative sleep for health and well-being. While sleep aids worsened my situation, developing good sleep habits helped me improve my mood, memory, energy, and libido.
Working and living in the flow state has been beneficial for my creativity and productivity, as well as reducing stress and inflammation.
Meditation and mindfulness practices have improved my mental health and well-being. Regular meditation three times daily helps me balance hormones and neurotransmitters, regulate emotions, increase cognitive flexibility, and improve relationships.
Scheduling fun activities and hobbies with loved ones can help us overcome amygdala hijacks and reduce anxiety by focusing on enjoyable activities and optimizing cortisol, adrenalin, and other stress hormones.
Intentional fun and gratitude have improved my cognitive performance and provided a valuable start to my day. Adding humor and laughter through activities like laughter yoga has also stimulated the body and mind.
4 — I developed bespoke eating and physical workout regimens.
I prioritize nutrition as our physical well-being results from what we consume through eating, drinking, and breathing. I consider food, water, and air as the primary sources of nutrition for the body.
I’ve made three dietary changes that have significantly improved my health. First, I increased my intake of bioavailable proteins and healthy fats. Second, I started eating only whole foods. Finally, I eat within a specific window each day.
I’ve found that practicing a one-meal-a-day plan has further improved my metabolic and mental health. Skipping breakfast initially helped me adapt to a longer fasting window and develop a fat-adapted body. Additionally, I occasionally perform extended fasting to promote cellular and mitochondrial health.
Fasting over 24 hours can initiate autophagy and mitophagy processes and might significantly lower inflammation with six mechanisms I articulated in a previous story.
I’ve also benefited from replacing carbs with healthy fats, which has helped me enter ketosis faster and increase BDNF. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats has also helped me balance metabolic hormones and neurotransmitters, nourishing my cells.
In addition, I use supplement nutrients to support cognitive health. Critical supplements. I have documented them and provided links at the end of this story.
After my eating regimen, I also fixed my workout regimen with new habits. I‘ve always been an active person since childhood, but as I’ve gotten older, some exercises like long-distance running and excessive cardio no longer work for me.
While I still do some cardio, I focus on lower-impact activities like barefoot walking and trampoline workouts to get around 10K steps per day. I’ve found that replacing my long cardio sessions with calisthenics and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is also effective.
I now understand the importance of resistance training in maintaining lean muscle mass, especially skeletal muscles. Weight lifting and calisthenics have helped me increase my metabolism and achieve a more defined physique than I could in my earlier years.
Additionally, resistance training has improved my cardiovascular health by enhancing my heart rate variability and blood oxygen saturation levels, fixing my anemia.
5 — I regulate emotions and perform self-therapy.
When I experience intense emotions, whether positive or negative, I engage in self-talk to understand and process my feelings. I find it helpful to record these conversations in my journal to monitor my emotions.
The insights gained from my self-talk sessions have been invaluable in making necessary therapeutic adjustments for specific situations. Self-talk is a form of therapy for my cognitive and emotional well-being helping me manage my thoughts and feelings.
When I combine self-talk with expressive writing, it provides an opportunity to activate both sides of the brain, integrating the left and right lobes for a more holistic response from the subconscious mind.
Tapping into the subconscious mind using mindfulness techniques can benefit people with no underlying health conditions.
I also practice self-compassion by looking in the mirror each morning and having a positive conversation with myself.
While the methods may differ, the underlying principles include self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-care, self-compassion, and self-love. These practices can enhance creativity, productivity, and communication skills, contributing to emotional regulation.
Rather than suppressing them, expressing my emotions healthily has been helpful. In addition, slowing down, setting emotional boundaries, and practicing emotional self-defense have improved my mental health, relationships, and social connections.
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adjust our thinking when facing multiple variables in a situation or event. It can help us observe, understand, and assess our thoughts before they turn into unpleasant emotions.
To achieve cognitive flexibility, we must acknowledge our thoughts and emotions without suppressing them and stay optimistic with an open mind.
Emotional regulation is also essential for cognitive flexibility. Achieving emotional maturity has allowed me to live and work in a flow state, bringing serenity, calmness, bliss, and joy to my life.
I even experienced anhedonia when I got extremely bored, which led to self-sabotaging behavior as I sought instant gratification to escape the unpleasant feeling.
However, I have learned to transform boredom into excitement. When boredom enters my consciousness, I intentionally neutralize it and turn it into a more pleasant emotion.
The third emotion I observe is envy. In the past, I used to envy people who were more successful than me. But when I learned to turn envy to admiration intentionally, I felt a tremendous liberation in my psychological well-being.
By improving social connections and emotional intelligence with emotional regulation, we can establish better relationships with loved ones and others.
Gaining emotional maturity and mastery using intellect and intuition can also help, as can cultivating compassion and empathy for others, as well as self-love, self-compassion, and self-confidence.
Taking personal responsibility to improve our physical and mental capabilities matters. In addition to self-therapy, seeking help when needed and leveraging the experiences of others can be invaluable. For example, I felt terrific after calling lifeline for an issue bothering me.
6 —I enjoy hobbies, social connections, and altruistic endeavors.
The brain loves social connections, and I have learned much from centenarians about their importance.
Therefore, I not only socialize with people I know and trust but also enhance my circles by meeting consequential strangers regularly and intentionally creating serendipity.
I make recording my blessings and showing gratitude a habit, extending my appreciation to people I interact with daily. This has improved not only my relationships with others but also had a calming effect on my brain.
Gratitude is a captivating sensation that nourishes the brain, and mental health professionals suggest using gratitude journals as a therapeutic tool because of their prominent effects on the brain. Expressive writing has also helped me cultivate gratitude.
When we feel gratitude, our body and brain work in better balance, reducing feelings of anger, jealousy, guilt, boredom, fear, or anxiety.
Another emotion I used to struggle with is boredom. In the past, I found it unpleasant and risky, causing me to lose interest in mundane things like work, chores, and hobbies.
Hobbies not only give us joy but also help us connect with our friends, loved ones, and other meaningfully and interactively.
Altruistic activities give me joy and uplift my mood. Learning about the importance of acts of kindness and compassion for anyone was eye-opening for me. I made it a valuable habit that brings serendipitous encounters.
Conclusions and Takeaways
The brain is wired to seek patterns and routines. When we intentionally work on and reinforce our routines, the neural connections in our brains become stronger and establish our habits and skills.
This allows us to achieve more with less effort, making our daily activities easier. It’s essential to be mindful of our habits, considering the physical and psychological aspects of building and maintaining them.
Our habits have a significant impact on our lives. Therefore it’s essential to recognize which ones are serving us well and which are not. My objective is to reinforce positive habits, weaken negative ones, or transform them into more constructive habits.
By cultivating healthy lifestyle habits, we can improve our cognitive abilities, health, well-being, and happiness. While I’ve established many positive habits, I still have some that aren’t serving me well.
I intentionally focus on refining these habits, transforming them into constructive ones that support my goals. Learning and self-improvement are lifelong processes. The brain’s plasticity means we can build or change practices at any age.
We can gain valuable insights by studying the habits of others. I enjoy reading about the practices of successful people and sharing my habits with others. However, it’s essential to recognize that what works for one person might not work for everyone. We should customize what we learn based on universal principles that can be applied individually.
Thank you for reading my perspectives. I wish you a healthy and happy life.
10 Lifehacks Schools Couldn’t Teach Me.
But learning them by myself with intention and applying them with passion bettered my Life.medium.com
As a new reader, you might check my holistic health and well-being stories reflecting my reviews, observations, and decades of sensible experiments optimizing my hormones and neurotransmitters. I write about health as it matters. I believe health is all about homeostasis.
Metabolic Syndrome, Type II Diabetes, Fatty Liver Disease, Heart Disease, Strokes, Obesity, Liver Cancer, Autoimmune Disorders, Homocysteine, Lungs Health, Pancreas Health, Kidneys Health, NCDs, Infectious Diseases, Brain Health, Dementia, Depression, Brain Atrophy, Neonatal Disorders, Skin Health, Dental Health, Bone Health, Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain, Brain Fog, Chronic Inflammation, Insulin Resistance, Elevated Cortisol, Leptin Resistance, Anabolic Resistance, Cholesterol, High Triglycerides, Metabolic Disorders, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Thyroid Disorders, Anemia, Dysautonomia,cardiac output, and major disorders.
I also wrote about valuable nutrients. Here are the links for easy access:
Lutein/Zeaxanthin,Phosphatidylserine, Boron, Urolithin, taurine, citrulline malate, biotin, lithium orotate, alpha-lipoic acid, n-acetyl-cysteine, acetyl-l-carnitine, CoQ10, PQQ, NADH, TMG, creatine, choline, digestive enzymes, magnesium, zinc, hydrolyzed collagen, nootropics, pure nicotine, activated charcoal, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B1, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, and other nutrients.
Disclaimer: My posts do not include professional or health advice. I only document my reviews, observations, experience, and perspectives to provide information and create awareness.
I publish my lifestyle, health, and well-being stories on EUPHORIA. My focus is on cellular, mitochondrial, metabolic, and mental health. Here is my collection of Insightful Life Lessons from Personal Stories.
Get an email whenever Dr. Mehmet Yildiz publishes. He is a top writer and editor on Medium.
You might join my six publications on Medium as a writer by sending a request via this link. 19K writers contribute to my publications. You might find more information about my professional background. You may join Medium with my referral link to enjoy unlimited content.