Bad habits are easy. They have a way of becoming part of your life quickly and sticking around for the long haul. I’m talking about that “just one cookie” that somehow has become “just one cookie after every meal of the day”. I’m talking about the habit of blowing off the Monday night class at the gym because , well, it’s Monday. I’m talking about the Friday night wine that somehow becomes the almost every night glass of wine. We all have unhealthy habits that have become so entrenched in our day-to-day routine, we don’t even notice that we’re doing them.
Luckily, good habits are easy, too. No, seriously. Once it becomes part of your life, you won’t notice it, or find it difficult. Today I’m sharing 50 easy healthy habits you can incorporate into your life. They’re broken up into four categories: MOVE, for exercise and physical well-being; EAT, for healthy eating and drinking tips; LIFE, for all the mental and spiritual healthy habits; and LOVE, all the ways to bring more love and joy into your life.
But first, head over to Kelly McNelis’ website New Leaf Wellness, where I have a guest post on the fine line between aspiration & comparison when it comes to motherhood!
1. Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators. Anytime you have an opportunity to add in a couple of minutes of extra activity, go for it!
2. Move every hour. Sitting for long periods of time is not what humans are meant to do – set an alarm if you have to, but get up and move around every hour.
3. Walk more. There are so many ways to add extra steps to your day. Next time you’re about to get in your car to run an errand, ask yourself if it’s close enough to walk instead. Try parking further away from your destination. Get off your bus or train a stop early and walk the last part of your commute.
4. Incorporate exercise on purpose into your routine. Walking more and taking the stairs are great, but actually planned exercise is vital to good health. Aim to do whatever you can to start, with a goal of a minimum of 30 minutes every day.
5. Lift a little bit heavier. Next time you’re in the gym and reaching for the weights, switch up to the next weight. Challenge your muscles. You don’t lift? Start slow and try some bodyweight resistance exercise.
6. Routine can be a really positive thing (after all, this whole post is about instilling healthy habits), but when it comes to your workouts, routine is what will get you to a fitness plateau. Mix up your workouts, periodize your strength training, do interval cardio as well as steady state.
7. Do primarily compound exercises when you’re in the gym. You use more than one joint when you’re walking and moving around, so strength-train in the same way. You’ll get more bang for your buck from deadlifting than from bicep curls.
8. Do active stretches throughout your day.
9. Go for whole foods over processed whenever you can. The fewer ingredients, the better, when it comes to anything in a package. If you can’t pronounce it, do you really want to eat it?
10. Drink water. Carry a refillable bottle with you and keep an eye on how much you’re actually drinking during the day. How much water should you drink? It’s different for everyone, but a good rule of thumb is the pee test – if your urine is pale yellow, you’re probably adequately hydrated.
11. Incorporate vegetables into every meal. Even if it’s tomato on your sandwich, make it your mission to add more veggies every time you eat. Not sure how to do that for breakfast? Think omelets, green juice, smoothies. You can even try healthy muffin and bread recipes using zucchini or carrots.
12. Eat more fruit. Have fruit as snacks, or as a healthy dessert. Try eating fruit of every color to get all of the micronutrients and antioxidants available.
13. Stop avoiding fat. Fat is awesome. Fat keeps you feeling full. Fat is necessary for your survival. Don’t eat fat-free everything – in fact, maybe don’t eat fat-free anything! Nuts, avocados, healthy oils, dairy can all be great sources of fat in your diet.
14. Cook more. Cooking at home is healthier, since you’re in control of what you put in your food and how it’s prepared.
15. Take your own snacks to the movies. You’ll save a ton of money, too.
16. Eat mindfully. Chew your food, taste it, savor it. The healthiest meal in the world may as well be fast food if you’re shoveling it down between meetings without even tasting it.
17. Plan your meals in advance – even if it’s just dinner, knowing what you’re going to cook makes food shopping easier, quicker and results in less food going to waste. It also makes your life a little less stressful.
18. Eat more omega-3s, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Great sources include oily fish, like salmon and sardines, walnuts, flax seeds and soybeans.
19. Read food labels. Get familiar with sneaky labeling, like ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’, which actually means trans fats.
20. Limit your alcohol consumption. If you’re a drinker, keep a log of all the alcohol you drink in a week, then see where you can cut back. Try drinks that take you a longer time to drink, as well as alternating alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks.
21. Track how many calories you’re taking in from beverages. Calories from juice, soda, milk and alcohol all add up, sometimes to a significant amount.
22.Don’t skip meals. It messes with your blood sugar. Try to plan ahead whenever you can with snacks, if you know you’re going to find it hard to have a meal.
23. Switch to whole grains over processed white grains.
24. Get out in nature more often, especially if you’re a city dweller. Go out of your way to find a park, a nature reserve, or some woods to explore.
25. Travel as much as you can. Expose yourselves to other cultures, ways of thinking and living, different religions and world views.
26. De-clutter. Learn to live with less things – most of the things you live with you have no use for anyway. Every material possession in your life is something you think about, or worry about losing or breaking, so get rid of it before it stresses you out.
27. Set goals and work towards attaining them. Sometimes it’s the working towards the goals where the magic happens.
28. Use to-do lists. Taking time to map out your priorities and what you need to get done gives you a sense of control.
29. Watch less TV. I would say this one is hard for o 80% of the population. I get it, it’s an easy and relatively cheap way to relax. I marathon-watched Breaking Bad. But do you find yourself watching TV mindlessly, not even really caring about what’s on? Pick what you really want to watch and make a pact to turn the TV off at other times.
30. Wear sunscreen. Every day.
31. Give to others. If you don’t have enough money to give to charity, that’s okay. Give away your expertise, or your time volunteering.
32. Try meditation. If this sounds too new-age for you, just rephrase it for yourself and think of it as taking a few minutes to yourself to just breathe and unplug from everything around you. Don’t sweat the details, or think of meditation as having to follow strict rules for breathing and chants.
33. Don’t beat yourself up when you experience failure (real or perceived). Learning from a mistake is a good thing – dwelling on it and making yourself feel bad is unproductive. Accept it, figure out what you could have done to change it, then move on.
34. Don’t forget your brain needs exercise, too. Read books, do crosswords or other brain games, memorize something.
35. Sleep well. If you’re not waking feeling rested, try going to bed 5 minutes earlier every night, until you get to the magic number of hours of sleep for you. Try shutting off electronics for an hour before going to sleep to help your body feel sleepy.
36. Quit smoking. If you haven’t quit smoking yet, maybe you haven’t tried one method that will work for you – acupuncture, hypnosis, cold turkey, patches, electronic cigarettes, medication, nicotine gum.
37. Enjoy the moment. Find and focus on one thing in your environment you can enjoy, even if you’re doing something that irritates you, like waiting in line.
38. Laugh. Have a favorite comedian? Look up their clips on YouTube. Call someone who makes you laugh. Read The Onion. Whatever makes you smile – it’s good for your soul.
39. Write down what you’re grateful for. What is in your life right now that you’re thankful about? Seeing it written down in black and white is a powerful reminder of how lucky you are. This is also a great way to feel blessed when you’re in the middle of a pity party.
40. Floss every day – it’s linked to better cardiovascular health, as well as being good for your teeth and gums.
41. Switch off occasionally. Leave your phone behind. Don’t use the internet for a day. Try to break complete reliance on technology every now and again.
42. Learn to say no occasionally. You don’t have to accept every invitation, or feel obliged to do every favor you’re asked. If you don’t have time, or you think something will add to your stress level, it’s okay to politely refuse.
43. Ask for and accept help when you need it.
44. Make plans with friends and keep them! Socializing is important for your well-being and can help you de-stress.
45. You know that friend you’ve been meaning to reach out to forever? Just do it. Email, text, call, FaceTime, whatever your method of communication, you’ll feel good for getting in touch.
46. Listen to your favorite music, go out of your way to look at something you find beautiful (I even plan my commute around favorite buildings and views) and help shape your environment to make it easier to appreciate the beauty in everyday life.
47. Smile at people, even if they don’t smile back.
48. If you have a choice between housework and playing with your kids, always choose playing.
49. Do what you love, in every area of your life. If you’re in a job you hate, start making plans to extricate yourself. Find the workout you love, so you’ll be sure to keep doing it. Practice hobbies you love, just because you love them. Fill your life with what you enjoy.
50. Tell the people you love that you love them!
See any habits on this list you could work on incorporating?
Are there any you’ve successfully made into habits? Did they help?
What would you add to the list?