8 Things to Do Every Day to Feel in Control of Your Life

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Having an extremely busy lifestyle often allows little in the way of "me" time. Between juggling work assignments, social engagements, and family time, finding the 10 minutes a day required to keep your home organized or run necessary errands is easier said than done. But, rather than saddling yourself with a severe case of the Sunday Scaries by week's end, adopt these daily mini-habits to restore order to the labyrinth of your busy life and feel in control of your life again.

Take Care of Your Body

Never underestimate the power of an evening face mask and an hour-long soak in the tub after work. Adopting a grooming routine is essential to our well-being as mammals and social creatures. You want to feel clean and refreshed, so always make sure to shower or take a bath. Even something as simple as washing your face, removing all makeup, and doing a few stretches before bed can make you feel more confident and in control.

Make Your Bed

The seemingly mundane task of making your bed not only restores order to your surroundings, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment—however small. An unmade bed creates the feeling of disorder and chaos. By making your bed, your room will look more put together, and you'll feel more calm when you walk into it.

Meditate

We're big fans of trying new things in an effort to better ourselves. If the sheer number of articles touting the transformative powers of meditation weren't any indication, many of us have found solace in this sacred practice. From diminishing insomnia to reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, engaging in just 10 minutes of meditation a day can restore a much-needed sense of calm and stability to your hectic life. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, meditating may be one of the most effective tools in your wellness arsenal, not to mention a foolproof way to regain a sense of control over your life.

Clean Your Home

Many people can speak to the therapeutic effects of cleaning—especially when you don't leave your laundry list of chores until Sunday night at 8 p.m. But you'd be surprised to discover just how much a tidy environment can positively impact your mental state. According to a study conducted among undergraduate students and published in the journal Environment and Behavior, a clean, stress-free environment actually led to healthier eating habits, as well.

Get a Good Night's Sleep

Aiming to get a solid seven to eight hours of sleep every night will keep you feeling refreshed, recharged, and, most importantly, relaxed. According to Kelly McGonigal, Stanford University psychologist and author of the best-selling book The Willpower Instinct, sleep is essential for maintaining a sense of self-control in life. "Sleep deprivation is a kind of chronic stress that impairs how the body and brain use energy," writes McGonigal in her book. "The prefrontal cortex is especially hit hard, and it loses control over the regions of the brain that create cravings and the stress response." In other words, a lack of sleep can cause you to make impulsive, unhealthy decisions that you wouldn't make otherwise. Getting enough sleep is perhaps the first step in gaining a sense of control over your life.

Focus on Nutrition

If you have yet to grasp the critical importance of nutrition and healthy eating habits, just look around you: Our wellness-obsessed culture will surely remind you of that fact. Juice bars have replaced fast food restaurants, gluten-free has become the norm, and any given food establishment now makes an effort to cater to vegetarians, vegans, and the like. That said, focusing on what you put into your body certainly has a measured effect on your self-esteem and willpower—even something as simple as cutting out sugar or processed foods, for example, can improve focus and increase energy levels in the brain. Adopting some sort of routine in the health department—whether it's sticking to a prescribed list of multi-vitamins, adding in more fruits and vegetables, or only eating organic, home-grown foods—will make you feel better both mentally and physically.

To keep yourself on track nutritionally at work, prepare your lunches a week in advance. Use Sunday to meal prep what you'll need for the office in the upcoming week.

Look at the Big Picture

Maintaining a sense of self-control in life has a lot to do with taking a step back and considering what will make you feel better in the long-run, instead of in the next five minutes. In a financial sense, giving yourself that critical space between stimulus and response has been dubbed "the 72-hour rule," which simply means waiting a full three days before deciding to purchase something. But according to Roy F. Baumeister, author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, the same rules apply to daily life. "People who tell themselves, 'not now, but later,' are generally less tormented by the temptation of something they are trying to avoid," writes Baumeister. Keep this in mind when enjoying your weekend downtime—while we're all about relaxing and living in the moment, you'll thank yourself for thinking long-term come Monday morning. 

Work Out

As with nutrition, we're surrounded by constant reminders to keep physical fitness top of mind. This habit is about establishing a routine more than anything else—hitting the elliptical or attending a yoga class on a regular basis is actually a great way to train your brain and make you more stress-resilient. It'll also help you release some necessary tension.

Article Sources
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  1. Vartanian LR, Kernan KM, Wansink B. Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsumption: The Role of Mind-Set in Stressful and Chaotic Food EnvironmentsEnvironment and Behavior. 2017;49(2):215-223. doi:10.1177/0013916516628178

  2. McGonigal K. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. New York, NY: Avery Publishing; 2011.

  3. Baumeister RF. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. New York, NY: Penguin Books; 2012.

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