MAKE YOUR BED
One small step forward leads to another and starting each day with the right intention and action can have a positive effect that ripples through our day and life.
Retired US Navy Admiral Seal William H. McRaven wrote the book ‘Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World’. And in his commencement address (below) at the University of Texas in 2014, which has been viewed online more than 11 million times, he says: “Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.
“It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
“And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
McRaven’s advice is supported by research from the National Sleep Foundation, which found people who make their beds in the morning tend to get better rest at night because they end the day in an peaceful and organized room.
DRINK SOME WATER
Drinking enough water is a crucial but often overlooked factor in maintaining our health. Common advice is that men should drink eight 8-ounce cups of water per day — but Institute of Medicine advice suggests that should be more like 13 cups. Our bodies are made up of 60 per cent water and we need to give it the fuel it needs. And water is so ubiquitous for those of us who live in countries with clean water supplies we can take it for granted.
Benefits of drinking water include healthier joints, keeping our brain sharp, helping us lose weight, boosting our performance when exercising, keeping our digestive system working, and our kidneys and heart healthy.
Albert Szent-Györgyo, the Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian biochemist who was credited with first isolating vitamin C, said: “Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
MOISTURIZE WITH SPF
Most men do nothing to their skin beyond washing and shaving it. But if we can add just one quick addition to our daily skincare regime it should be to use a moisturizer that includes SPF for UV protection on our face and necks.
We’re not saying we all need to dive into the world of YouTube skincare tutorials. But keeping the skin moisturized and protected from the sun wards off premature skin aging, wrinkles and skin cancer. And they are three benefits we can all sign up for.
Dr Terrence Kearney, a dermatologist working with Dove Men+Care, says: “It’s very important that men use a hydrating sunscreen. That’s kind of a basic building block of a skin care routine.”
As well as medical necessity, starting a simple skincare routine — ideally before we look like we really need it — can have good psychological benefits too.
Bollywood star Saif Ali Kahn says: “As you age, it’s quite important to pay attention to how you look and to take steps towards ensuring that you stay happy with how you look. And grooming, whether you just use a moisturizer or go the whole hog at a salon, can make that much-needed difference.”
Headspace co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe recommends ten minutes of meditation a day for a healthy and happy mind and body. But even a minute or less at a time can improve our mood, decision making and overall well-being.
Headspace has a series of guided mini meditations for letting go of stress, to help unwind and find our focus that take just one minute. Taking a quick breather from our hectic life and finding one minute to focus on our breath can help to reset our mind and recharge.
A host of studies have shown the benefits of meditation on reducing stress, increasing focus, improving sleep and much more. And even just a minute a day can help.
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle also encourages introducing mini meditations into every day life and views it as more important than a formal meditation practice. He appreciates taking a 15-minute break from our busy life and sitting down to meditate is not for everyone. But by taking brief moments to step out of our normal train of thought throughout the day is invaluable for slowing down and eroding the stress and worry that often fills our mind.
This could be taking a moment to truly experience an everyday practice — like concentrate on the sensation of the water on our skin as we are washing our hands — rather than allowing our mind to race to the next thing we need to do. Or just bring attention to our breath for a few seconds.
He says: “Ask yourself, ‘Am I still breathing?’ You suddenly feel the air flowing into your body and out of your body. At that moment, you’ve entered the state of presence. Even if it’s only five seconds.
“The more you bring those moments of presence into your life, the more your old conditioning becomes eroded, gradually.”
TELL YOUR PARTNER YOU LOVE THEM
A strong relationship not only brings us happiness but is also good for our physical health.
One study, which examined data from more than 309,000 people, found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50 per cent — about the same as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.
Scientists have found good connection with others relieves stress and its negative affect on coronary arteries, gut function and the immune system. Research has found people in happier marriages are healthier and at lower risk of cardio-vascular disease and and one line of research even found signs of reduced immunity in couples during hostile marital spats.
We should try to tell our partners that we love them every day — or better still write them a note. The benefits are felt by the giver and receiver of the extra touch of TLC. By putting pen to paper you show you really mean what you say and have made the extra effort to make your partner feel loved. Check out these 15 examples of quick love notes from couples who are totally nailing it.