It’s easy to get caught up comparing yourself to other people. In some cases, comparison can be a tool for self-improvement. 

For example, you see that someone you know has gone on to get an advanced degree, so this motivates you to put more effort into your own schooling. 

But comparing yourself to others can also damage your self-confidence and overall mental health. Comparison often brings with it feelings of inferiority. 

When you’re constantly comparing yourself, you can even put yourself at risk of depression.

When we compare ourselves to others, it’s usually with people we know: our family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. And the comparisons we feel most acutely typically have to with our insecurities. This could be appearance, relationships, wealth, professional achievement, goals, or something more specific.

Comparison impact mental health

Everyone compares themselves, but some people are at higher risk of negative social comparison than others. 

Studies show that people who frequently compare themselves to others are more likely to feel envy, regret, guilt, and defensiveness. 

Negative social comparison typically goes hand-in-hand with low self-esteem. Logically, people with low self-esteem are more likely to feel that they don’t measure up, leading to negative social comparison, which in turn brings their self-esteem even lower. 

Nothing positive or productive can come from self-diminishing social comparison. 

Studies show that people who frequently compare themselves to others are more likely to feel envy, regret, guilt, and defensiveness. 

They are also more likely to lie, deflect blame, and behave destructively. Overall, people who make a lot of negative social comparisons are less happy than those who avoid this behavior. 

Social comparisons can decrease a person’s feeling of well-being. 

There is a proven connection between high levels of comparison and low levels of self-esteem, as well as depression and neuroticism. 

Social media isn’t helping

Unfortunately, social media appears to demand us to compare ourselves with others. 

Negative social comparison can seem impossible to avoid on social media, as it gives you a highlight reel of other people’s relationships, family life, and seemingly picture-perfect lives. 

Studies show that time spent on Facebook can bring on feelings of depression and loneliness, especially among adolescents who tend to compare themselves more than any other age group. 

One of the issues with social media is that people only share a portion of their lives to the public, and may leave out some of their more negative experiences.

Negative social comparison can seem impossible to avoid on social media, as it gives you a highlight reel of other people’s relationships, family life, and seemingly picture-perfect lives. 

When you find that social media is pulling you into a damaging pattern of social comparison, it is important to disengage. Given the nature of social media, sometimes the only way to break from the cycle of its negative mental health effects is to log off and take a break. 

Remember, people who are less-inclined to compare themselves with others tend to be happier and more well-adjusted. Oftentimes, these are the same people who have low or nonexistent levels of social media use.

Managing social comparison

When we’re struggling with comparison, we’re outsourcing our value and worth. Often comparison happens because we feel the need to measure how we’re doing. Essentially, what we’re doing when we compare ourselves to others is asking, “Am I enough? Am I doing enough? Am I doing enough well?” 

When we use our perception of others to answer those questions, we’re outsourcing our measure of success or happiness, rather than using our own values to measure these things for ourselves.

When it comes to comparing yourself, whether it’s in reality or on social media, a healthier approach is to try and see other people’s positive qualities or accomplishments as motivation.

Think about who you routinely compare yourself to. Now, ask yourself if this comparison can provide a useful benchmark for you. Does it give you insight into how you can do something better? What about this comparison can serve as a source of inspiration?

Again, social comparison is an innate psychological tendency. So, it might be impossible to stop it completely. But, one great way to manage negative social comparison and its bad mental health effects is to practice gratitude daily. Reminding yourself of what you have and being grateful for those things can lessen feelings of inferiority. 

So, the next time you find yourself comparing your life to someone else’s, take a moment to think of all the things you’re grateful for. 

What’s a healthy lifestyle? Well, it’s a combination of factors. 

Getting regular exercise and eating a balanced, nutritious diet are both essential to staying healthy. Not only that, but keeping up these healthy behaviors can actually add years onto your life!

For example, did you know that as little as 15 minutes of physical activity a day can boost your lifespan by three years? That’s 1,095 days!

And yet, a lot of us find ourselves continuously putting our own health at the bottom of priority list. 

In a world as busy as ours, it’s easy to feel like work, or errands, or even watching the next episode of our favorite show is more important than getting to gym or planning healthy meals for the week.

This begs the question, if people realized the full benefits of healthy living, would they be more likely to prioritize it?

The campaign

Halcyon’s recent campaign set out to encourage healthy living by answering what it means to be healthy and sharing the tools to unlock a healthy lifestyle.

To do so, we came up with a 10-question quiz that would inform people about the benefits of healthy living as well as the serious consequences of unhealthy living, with the hope of challenging respondents to want to be healthier. 

At the end of the quiz, we included a toolkit of ideas for people looking for tips to improve their lifestyles.

The results

Overall, the campaign was effective, but the engagement level on this campaign was low compared to that with other campaigns we’ve run here at Halcyon. That said, those who did take the time to respond to our quiz did appear to take a high level of interest in the topic! 

In fact, 100% of quiz participants accessed the post survey toolkit with tips to live a healthier lifestyle.

To sum it up:

  • 93.3% of people who took the quiz care more about looking after their health after what they’ve learned.
  • 92.3% of people who took the quiz would be more inclined to change the way they live to be healthier.
  • 100% of people who completed the quiz clicked on the post survey resource! 

What you can do

If you want to learn more about the benefits of healthy living and why you should care about it, start here:

  • Test your knowledge and take our quiz!
  • At the end of the quiz, take a look at our toolkit with tips to improve your lifestyle.
  • Share! Tell your friends what you’ve learned, send them the quiz and help increase awareness about the importance of looking after your health.

Donate! When you donate to Halcyon, you help us continue to bring awareness to issues like healthy living that are foundational to human flourishing.

If you’re missing a party because you have to work overtime on a Friday night, or can’t go try a cool restaurant with your friends because it’s out of your budget, you’ll probably experience what’s known as FOMO. 

FOMO stands for “fear of missing out” and, for a lot of us, it’s a fairly common feeling.

Why? Well, it’s simply impossible to be everywhere at once. Sometimes life gets in the way of your ideal social calendar. Work, school, feeling sick, not enough money, prior commitments… there’s plenty of things that can force us to miss out on any given experience. 

When this happens, it can cause anxiety and frustration. Are you missing out on something great? Are people having fun without you? 

The antidote to FOMO

It’s human nature to feel FOMO, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy emotionally or mentally. In times when you’re experiencing FOMO, it’s important to not get bogged down, or worse, depressed. 

Attempt to replace feelings of FOMO with feelings of JOMO, or “joy in missing out.” Recognize that you don’t need to attend everything, and instead of wishing you were somewhere else, focus on where you are and what about that place or experience you’re grateful for.

JOMO challenges us to replace comparative and anxious thinking with grounded, joyful thinking.

Simply put, JOMO is about being present and practicing gratitude. When we take the time to be grateful for what we have and where we are, we are less likely to wish we were doing something somewhere else.

If you’re constantly fretting about missing out on something, you’re focused on comparing yourself to other people and their lives or experiences. JOMO challenges us to replace comparative and anxious thinking with grounded, joyful thinking. 

When you make the conscious, thoughtful decision to find the best in your situation, you’ll find the feeling of FOMO much less intense.

5 reasons to feel JOMO

There’s some things you simply have to miss out on. But, that’s no reason to stress! 

In situations when you have to miss out, there’s plenty of reasons to feel joy. 

Don’t believe it? Here’s some examples.

  1. Do what YOU want. When you break away from the (real or virtual) activities of your social group, you’re in charge. Now, you get to do exactly what you want to do, rather than relying on group dynamics.
  2. Recharge. Especially if you are an introvert, missing out lets you recharge your social batteries and enjoy your own company.
  3. Take care of yourself! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a busy schedule. When you choose to miss out on something, you can spend time doing things you might otherwise be too “busy” for, like exercise or self-care.
  4. Be spontaneous. Sometimes missing out means more space and time for spontaneity and chance encounters. That’s what makes life exciting!
  5. Supercharge creativity. Missing out can enhance your creativity! People are more creative when their minds are free from distractions and other stimulants.

In any situation, you can find joy and something to be grateful for.

So, the next time you get FOMO, go ahead and give JOMO a try. In any situation, you can find joy and something to be grateful for. And remember, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side!

When was the last time you gave some serious thought to whether you were being true to your moral code?

For many people, a moral code is a strange concept, but believe it or not, it can have a marked influence on your wellness.

For instance, did you know that sticking to a moral code fosters a sense of integrity, which in turn can help you feel more self-assured?

What’s a moral code? 

A moral code is a consistent set of rules that determines behavior and actions, accepted by a person or by a group of people. It can be a product of your religion, philosophical views, parents, friends, and/or society. 

Evidence suggests that people who have a clear, functioning moral code are more grounded, focused, and content with life. 

That means everyone should want to have strong moral values, right?

The campaign

Wrong. A whopping 81% of U.S. adults rate the state of moral values in the U.S. as only fair or poor! 

This inspired us to develop a campaign to address the deterioration of our world’s moral fabric, as well as gain insight into the state of people’s moral understanding.

We put together a quick quiz that we hoped would help us achieve insight into people’s moral understanding, while also challenging and informing people of different moral views. 

The ultimate goal? To bring awareness to the problem of moral ambiguity and encourage people to live by a moral code. 

The results

This campaign brought mixed success. 

82% of people who took our quiz reported caring more about the issue of moral ambiguity after what they’d learned. Also, 85.5% of people who completed the quiz reported being more inclined to live in accordance with a moral code.

But, the discernment toolkit we gave at the end of the quiz frustrated some users, who were looking for a more definitive insight or validation on their moral code.

To sum it all up:

  • 82% of people who took the quiz said they care more about moral ambiguity after what they learned.
  • 85.5% of people who took the quiz said they’d be more inclined to change the way they live in accordance with a moral code.
  • 100% of people who completed the quiz clicked on a post survey resource containing helpful tips for people looking to discern their moral viewpoint and put it into practice.

What you can do?

If you want to get started on identifying your own moral code, you can get going with these simple steps:

  • Take our quiz!
  • Check out the tips in the toolkit at the end of the quiz 
  • Share the quiz and what you’ve learned about the importance of having morals with your friends
  • Donate! By donating to The Halcyon Movement, you help us create awareness around major societal issues like moral ambiguity and help us inspire positive societal change.

Live fast, die young? No thanks. 

Not surprisingly, most of us are interested in living longer than the typical average. In the U.S., the average life expectancy is 81 years for women and 77 years for men. When asked how long they’d like to live, 63% of U.S. adults answered longer than the average life expectancy, 29% answered about that long, and only 6% answered less than that.

What’s the key to a long life? There’s no guaranteed method. But, here are 7 healthy habits that experts say will give you a good shot at a long, healthy life..

Avoid overeating

Overeating can result in excess body weight and belly fat, which left unchecked can lead to obesity. Obesity is clearly linked with shorter lifespans and increased likelihood of disease. 

That said, in your effort to not overeat, be sure not to undereat either. Insufficient calorie intake can result in malnutrition, increase fatigue, lower body temperature, and diminish sex drive.

Try turmeric

Curcumin, the main bioactive compound in turmeric, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help maintain brain, heart, and lung function, as well as guard against age-related disease. Very popular in India, it has been consumed there for thousands of years.

Eat more plant-based foods

Many studies link a plant-rich diet to a reduced risk of premature death, as well as lower risk of cancer, metabolic syndrome, heart problems, depression and brain deterioration. 

This is because plant foods are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. Plant foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans.

Stay active

People who exercise more than 150 minutes per week are 35% less likely to suffer a premature death. But, as little as 15 minutes of exercise each day can add an additional 3 years to your life!

No smoking

Smoking is scientifically proven to increase the risk of disease and early death. 

People who smoke are 3 times more likely to die prematurely than those who don’t, and can lose up to 10 years of their lives from smoking. 

If you quit smoking by the time you’re 35 years old you can prolong your life up to 8.5 years. Even if you don’t quit until your 60s, you could still add up to 3.7 years onto your life by quitting!

Limit alcohol consumption

Heavy alcohol intake is linked to liver disease and heart disease, as well as pancreatic disease and risk of premature death. 

Limiting your consumption of alcohol, or not consuming it at all, can prevent these consequences of heavy drinking.

Sleep regularly

Finally, sleep is necessary in order for your body to regulate cell function. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day can increase your longevity. In fact, more recent research indicates that quality sleep may be the key to a long life. Matt Walker, a leading sleep scientist, has called sleep the “elixir of life”.

Note that 8–9 hours of sleep is the recommended amount of sleep a night for the average person. 

Too little sleep or infrequent sleep can lead to inflammation and increase risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. 

Too much sleep can be a symptom of depression or a sign of undiagnosed health issues.

Want more healthy habits?

Check out our blog, “10 Healthy Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle”.

Do you know what it means to be healthy?

“Being healthy” comes down to a lot more than eating a couple vegetables every now and again. Did you know that 678,000 U.S. deaths are attributed to nutrition-related diseases every year? That’s crazy!

On the flip side, did you know studies show that getting regular exercise, eating well, and staying away from bad habits like cigarettes can add years onto your life? 

And yet, it’s so easy to put “being healthy” at the bottom of our priorities. We’re too busy to make dinner, so we eat fast food. We’re too tired to wake up early, so we don’t go to the gym. Every day, we make little choices that put our health on the back-burner for convenience’s sake.

Little do we realize we’re inconveniencing ourselves in the long-run when we play down the importance of making healthy choices in the short-run.

Healthy living requires careful attention to nutrition and exercise. For a lot of us, this means changing our behavior and staying away from bad habits. 

But, rest assured that the payoff of eating well and keeping active is worth it! Not only will your body thank you for it, your mind will, too! 

Did you know that just 20 minutes of exercise can boost your mood for 12 hours? 

Even better, did you know that as little as 15 minutes of physical activity a day can boost your lifespan by three years?

Halcyon’s next campaign will focus on facts of healthy living. We will be answering not only what it means to be healthy and why you should want to be, but sharing the tools to unlock a healthy lifestyle.

Keep an eye on our social media channels for the launch of this campaign and be sure to subscribe to our email list so you never miss an update!

In 2018, an international group of researchers led by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health published a study calculating how much longer you can live with a healthy lifestyle. 

For women, healthy habits could increase life expectancy by 14 years. For men, life expectancy could be increased by 12 years!

In terms of nutrition, the study recommended eating a diet high in plants and low in fats, not smoking, and consuming no more than one alcoholic drink a day if you’re a woman and two if you’re a man. 

Long term effects of poor nutrition

Poor nutrition is one of the four main risk factors alongside tobacco use, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption for preventable chronic diseases. 

Yet, fewer than 1 in 10 U.S. adults eat fruits and vegetables, while 5 in 10 adults consume a sugary drink on a given day.

Quality nutrition is essential for keeping people healthy across the lifespan. Diets high in added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats are highly common as well as highly unhealthy. Such diets also heighten the risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Obesity, one of the primary effects of poor nutrition, is often the gateway to these other negative health outcomes. Obesity is associated with at least 13 types of cancer and these cancers make up 40% of all cancers diagnosed. Looking at it this way, it makes sense that obesity costs the U.S. healthcare system $147 billion a year.

Diets high in sodium and cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Americans consume more than 3,400 mg of sodium a day on average. Current guidelines, however, recommend getting less than 2,300 mg a day. 

Long term effects of good nutrition

On the flip side, eating foods low in saturated fats and sodium and high in fiber can help prevent high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure–and, in doing so, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Adults who maintain a healthy diet live longer and with a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Healthy eating can also help people with chronic diseases manage these conditions and puts them at less risk of complications.

The benefits of good nutrition don’t stop there. Here’s a whole list of the positive physical and mental health outcomes of a well-balanced diet:

  • Consistent energy through the day
  • Improved mood
  • Increased physical performance and focus
  • Better sleep
  • Increased self-care
  • Healthier skin
  • Improved mental performance and memory
  • Fewer unhealthy (junk food) cravings
  • Better digestion
  • Healthy weight
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Managed blood sugar
  • Healthy teeth and gums
  • Reduced inflammation

What makes for good nutrition? 

Clearly there are plenty of short and long term benefits to quality nutrition. But, what exactly is a nutritious diet? There’s lots of ways to eat healthy, depending on your diet preferences (Vegetarian? Pescetarian? Keto?). That said, here are some pointers.

A nutritious diet includes…

  1. Vegetables, especially dark leafy greens like spinach and kale
  2. Nuts, like almonds and walnuts
  3. Fruits, like apples and oranges
  4. Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna
  5. Lots of water!

A nutritious diet does not include…

  1. Refined carbohydrates, like white bread
  2. Fried food, like french fries
  3. Soda and other sugary drinks (Tip: if you’re a soda drinker, replace soda with naturally-flavored seltzer water!)
  4. Highly-processed meat, like hot dogs
  5. Margarine (Tip: use olive oil instead for cooking)

Changing your eating habits will be a challenge, but as you now understand, it can have a significant impact on not only your lifespan, but your quality of life as well.

So, invest now in your future happiness and make adopting healthy eating habits a priority. Remember, a little goes a long way.

Whether it’s at home, the office, or driving our cars, today we spend up to 90% of our time indoors.

Especially during the time of Covid-19, more of us have been spending more time indoors than ever before—perhaps up to 100% of it! Unfortunately, so much time indoors goes against our evolutionary programming and has consequential implications for our health and wellness.

Our health is determined by how we behave, and how we behave is influenced by our physical environment. Sound, light, temperature, air and water are all essential life elements that determine the quality of our health and well-being. 

Unlike healthy behaviors such as exercise that require active engagement, our relationship with these elements is intuitive. 

Nowadays, our access to these elements is determined by what combination of them is available in our indoor spaces. In other words, our indoor environments determine what sound, light, temperature, air and water we get and, by extent, our long-term health.

The importance of good lighting

More than just something to make a room brighter, lighting is actually a tool we can use to improve our productivity, energy and focus.

Good lighting is important for everyone to support optimal functioning. Mood, sleep, and metabolism can all be improved by good lighting. Particularly during the darker, winter months, when necessary exposure to sunlight is hard to come by, good indoor lighting can help us maintain healthy circadian rhythms. 

Humans evolved under the sun, so it’s natural that the move indoors would disrupt some of our health programming. The circadian rhythm is the body’s natural programming to function on a cycle matching the solar day. It governs many aspects of our physiology, metabolism, and behavior. Daily, regularly-timed exposure to light helps us maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.

Daytime light exposure can boost how you function and feel during the day, as well as help you achieve a more restful and restorative sleep at night. 

That said, keep the lighting to a minimum at night. While bright light is good for us during the day, the opposite is true at night as it can be disruptive to your circadian rhythm. If you’re working at night, opt for dimmer lighting and switch the blue-light off your devices.

Beware of indoor air quality

When you think of pollution, you probably think of the air outdoors. But, indoor air can carry pollutants as well.

Pollution has been linked to a wide array of respiratory problems as well as the development of chronic conditions, among other negative health outcomes.

This means that it’s important to make sure the air you’re breathing at home is as healthy as possible. Improved indoor air quality promotes health and well-being, while reducing the risk of respiratory issues.

To ensure better air quality at home, it is important to make sure that your space does not lack fresh air. This can be done via a mechanical ventilation system or naturally, through keeping an open window or door. Keeping fresh air in your home prevents your air from having too high of a CO2 level.

Air purifiers can also help ensure your air is kept free from pollutants. Also useful are indoor air quality sensors which are able to measure pollutant levels in your air, so that you know when it’s necessary to let fresh air in.

We all need safe drinking water

Humans need water to live. But, water can also contain a range of pollutants and microorganisms that can negatively affect health in a wide variety of ways, from gastrointestinal  problems to cancer.

For people in the United States, requirements established by the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) set protective standards that limit the presence of certain harmful contaminants in drinking water, making drinking water in the U.S. among the safest in the world.

Ensuring that the water we use and consume is safe and clean involves reducing the levels of contaminants at both point-of-entry and point-of-use.

Want to make your indoor space healthier?

Check out this blog.

Got Morals? 

Evidence suggests that people who have a clear, functioning moral code are more grounded, focused, and content with life.

Not quite sure what that means? A moral code is a consistent set of rules that determines behavior and actions, accepted by a person or by a group of people. Your moral code can be a product of your religion, philosophical views, parents, friends, and/or society. 

For centuries, there has been a conflict between what is called moral objectivism and moral relativism.

On one hand, moral objectivism is the view that some system of ethics applies to everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or creed.

On the other, moral relativism holds that there can be differences in moral judgments across different peoples and their own particular cultures.

Consider these two approaches to morals. Which one sounds right to you?

All of us have the capacity to build a strong moral code and there are more benefits to having one than you might think. To start, sticking to a moral code can foster your sense of integrity, which in turn can help you feel more self-assured.

And yet, a whopping 81% of U.S. adults rate the state of moral values in the U.S. as only fair or poor. 

In Halcyon’s upcoming campaign, we will address the deterioration of our world’s moral fabric and seek to provide people the tools to claim ownership of their inherent moral codes.

Keep an eye on our social media channels for the launch of this campaign and be sure to subscribe to our email list so you never miss an update!

We know it’s not always easy adopting new habits. But, healthy habits are key to a healthy life, so they’re well worth cultivating.

There’s a lot that goes into being healthy: diet, nutrition, fitness. Tackling this all at once, especially if you’re already a busy person, could be overwhelming. It’s okay to start small. When it comes to building healthy habits, small decisions add up over time!

Here are five ways to kick-start healthy habits:

Set reminders

The best way to build a habit is consistency. So, pick a healthy habit you want to adopt that can reasonably work with your daily schedule. 

One easy idea for a healthy, daily activity is a 10-minute walk. Find a time that works for your schedule and set yourself a daily alarm. 

When your alarm goes off, it’s time to get walking!

Drink 1 extra glass of water a day

Perhaps the healthiest habit out there is drinking more water. So, if you want to kick-start healthy habits, this is a great one to get going with. 

Start by drinking just 1 “extra” glass of water a day, and gradually increase the amount. If plain water isn’t your favorite, try infusing it with fruit, like watermelon, or try a store-bought flavor additive.

Tip: a glass of water when you wake up is a great way to energize your morning routine.

Correct your posture

Keeping good posture helps prevent aches and pains, as well as reduces the stress on your ligaments. It can also reduce fatigue and risk of long-term back problems. 

A lot of us spend our days hunched over a desk or computer. So, leave yourself a note where you can see it to remind you to sit up straight when you notice you’re slouching. Your posture won’t be fixed overnight, but making efforts to correct your posture each day will improve it over time.

Stretching is also an excellent way to improve posture and prevent injury. As little as 2 minutes of stretching a day can make a difference, so make time for it!

Go to bed 30 minutes earlier

Sleep affects energy levels, eating habits, heart health, mood, and so much more. But, a lot of people don’t get enough of it. This can lead to weight gain, higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, fatigue, and hormone imbalance. 

Identify your usual bedtime and set yourself an alarm to get to bed 30 minutes earlier. Once that alarm buzzes, turn off your phone and catch some Z’s! 

Take the stairs

If there’s stairs at your home or office, take them! While it might be tempting to avoid the stairs, taking the stairs is an easy way to give your leg muscles a burst of activity and exercise. 

Working from home? If there’s stairs around, instead of spending your break on Instagram, walk up and down the stairs a few times to work your cardio.

If you adopt these five practices, awesome! You’re well on your way to healthy habits.