Our habits are what form us as individuals. Since you are in control of the habits you form or break, you have the power to make a significant positive impact in your life through your habits. Unfortunately, bad habits can be difficult to end, and you might find yourself in need of a major change ASAP.
It may be tempting to try to pile on several new and improved habits all at once to get your life back on track, but there's no need to rush! Research has shown that taking small steps toward a single habit until you solidify it before adding on a new one is the best way to see long term progress (1). The key is to take that first small step and stay consistent. Slowly but surely, you'll start seeing positive changes!
Starting a new healthy habit can be overwhelming and even discouraging if you don't meet your own high expectations. To combat this, start small and set realistic, actionable goals. We've included 5 healthy habit ideas below with tips to help you get started.
1. Drink more water.
Drinking enough water can help improve bodily functions, help us control our calorie intake, improve digestion, muscle recovery, the look of our skin, and more (2). One simple way to encourage yourself to start drinking more water is to carry your water bottle everywhere with you. Just seeing your water nearby should help you remember to drink more, but you can build in extra reminders by setting hourly notifications on your phone to remind yourself to take a quick water break until you've formed the habit. You could also encourage yourself to drink more water by finding a water bottle that you're excited to use and carry around throughout your day. If you want to push yourself even further, try tracking the number of ounces you drink per day until you reach your target goal.
2. Get more sleep.
Sleep is extremely important when it comes to functioning at our highest levels. Getting a good night's rest helps to prevent chronic health diseases and helps our mental health by making us feel alert and good about ourselves (3). Most of us may set alarms to wake up, but you can also try setting an alarm to alert you to start wrapping up your day and start getting ready to go to sleep. Preparing a hot bath, hot tea, and even placing your favorite book by your bed can help you with getting ready to get a good night's rest. It can also help to download an app that will not allow you to log into your social media accounts after a certain time frame to better help you with regulating your sleep schedule. If you want to go above and beyond, you can use your fitness device to track your sleep activity such as your REM sleep, restlessness, sleeping heart rate, etc.
3. Be more active.
Making time to be physically active can have many lasting positive effects on your body. Exercising can make your bones and muscles stronger, keep your heart healthy, allow for a more restful sleep, and also increase your self-confidence and energy levels (4). You can become more active by simply adding a short walk into your daily routine. Whether it's in the morning to start off the day energized or in the evening to end the day relaxed, a walk is easy on your joints and can be done almost anywhere. If you want to incorporate more exercises, you can plan to start off with 5 push ups, sit ups, tricep dips, squats, or lunges per day until you feel comfortable to build up from there. If you want to track your progress along the way, you can add your activities to your online calendar or jot them down in your planner. You'll start seeing changes before you know it!
4. Eat healthier.
A well-balanced diet is crucial to keeping our bodies strong and healthy. Eating nutritious foods can positively impact our energy levels, concentration, body weight, strength, self-esteem, and even sleep patterns (5). To start incorporating healthier meals and snacks throughout your day, it can be beneficial to plan what you'll be eating ahead of time. Sticking to a healthy grocery list can also help you refrain from purchasing other impulse buys with less nutritional value. If you find yourself snacking throughout the day, you can prep healthy snacks ahead of time so that you're not tempted to reach for a quick bag of chips or sweet treat. You don't have to change all of your meals and snacks at once. Small replacements over time can help you stay on track toward better eating habits in the long run.
5. Work on your flexibility.
Working on your flexibility as you age can help improve your posture, reduce your risk of injury, increase your mobility, and even help you maintain a better body shape (6). Simple stretches are a great way to start off this habit. Just taking the time to lengthen your arms and legs can make a huge difference. There are also plenty of beginner level yoga poses such as downward-facing dog, child's pose, standing forward bend, and butterfly. You can start off by doing one or two of these poses in the morning or before bed. Once you start incorporating stretching into your daily routine, your body will remember and remind you that it's in need of a good stretch when you start feeling achy or a bit cramped up!
We hope these tips inspire you to start working toward a new healthy habit. Remember that results don't happen overnight, but with consistency, you'll build up to a habit with long-lasting benefits for your health and happiness.
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