A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Healthy Habits

Today we are finishing up our wellness series by talking about healthy habits. Creating healthy habits can benefit your mental health, your overall mood and energy, and prevent or lessen long-term health problems.

In previous posts, we discussed how to manage stress and how to find work-life balance. Today we are finishing up our wellness series by talking about healthy habits. Creating healthy habits can benefit your mental health, your overall mood and energy, and prevent or lessen long-term health problems. Keep reading to learn about habits you can include in your life and how to start them successfully.

Eating Healthy

  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables into each of your meals. For ideas on how to do this, check out this article by the American Heart Association.
  • Swap out foods for healthier choices. Look for foods with things like protein, fiber, and vitamins that you can swap with foods high in things like sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fat. To get an idea of healthy food options, check out this resource.
  • Replace sugary drinks for water. This will decrease the amount of sugar you have and make sure you are staying hydrated. You can try carbonated water or flavored water if you want a bit of fizz or flavor.

Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. Check out our post about eating healthy on a budget and find some staple foods you can incorporate in your meals that are nutritious and budget friendly.

Good Sleep

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time to create a sleep routine. Sleep experts recommend getting at least 7 hours, so decide what time you have to get up in the morning and calculate backwards to figure out when you need to go to bed to hit that time frame.
  • Avoid using your phone or having the tv on at night. The light and sounds disrupt sleep.
  • Cut back on caffeinated drinks too late in the day so you can fall asleep more easily when it is time to go to bed.

If you want to try other options for getting better sleep, The Sleep Foundation has additional tips and resources that can help.

Being Active

  • Go for a walk. Experts say people should aim to get a minimum of 30 minutes of movement in a day. Walking is a great way to start getting used to moving. You can break up the thirty minutes throughout the day if 30 minutes all at once is inconvenient.
  • If you struggle to find time to work out, exercise while you do other things like watch tv. This way, you can still workout, but you get to do something you enjoy.
  • Find activities that involve being active like dancing, hiking, or sports. These are enjoyable things that will also make you sweat.

You might be saying – “It sounds great but how can I start? How can I implement a new habit?” Here are some tips on how to develop the healthy habits.

Set Goals
Having goals will help keep you motivated. Make your goals specific, measurable, and attainable so you can track your progress. For example, maybe you make it a goal to do 10 pushups a day before bed or you want to eat one piece of fruit at breakfast. After accomplishing your goals, celebrate and reward yourself. This will get you excited to reach those goals. Just don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a goal. New habits are hard so jumping back up after failing is part of the process.

Start Small

Changing everything all at once is hard and most of the time it doesn’t work. Start making small choices that will benefit your health As you do, you will start being able to incorporate more things or bigger changes. If you want to eat healthier, rather than changing everything about your diet, pick one meal and make healthier choices. As you feel more comfortable there, try the next meal. Slowly making the changes will help you succeed.

Pair Habits
One tip recommended is to pair the new habit with an existing one. For example, say you brew a cup of coffee every morning, you can use this habit as a trigger for the next one. Every time you pour your coffee, grab a piece of fruit. Or when you come home from work, after you put your work stuff away, immediately change into workout clothes. Pick the new habit you want and combine it with the routines you have. The more you do it, the more it becomes a habit.

Don’t Do it Alone
Building new habits is hard and often times it is easier if there is someone else around. Try finding other people like friends, family, or co-workers who are wanting to adopt healthy habits. Maybe you and a friend work out together once a week or you both agree to pack your own lunch for work instead of going out. This creates accountability for you so when you might feel like quitting, someone can encourage you to keep going.

For more advice on how to change lifestyles, check out this resource. Creating healthy habits may seem hard at first but these choices can help you both short and long term.