Living a happy and fulfilling life is something that all of us strive for. However, it can be challenging to achieve this goal without incorporating healthy daily habits into our routines.
But what makes some habits healthier than others? What strategies can you use to kick a bad habit and create a healthier lifestyle for yourself and your loved ones moving forward?
In this blog post, we will explore 8 healthy habits and provide tips to help you incorporate them into your every day life.
A healthy habit refers to a behavior or action that promotes and contributes to overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It is a consistent and positive behavior that individuals consciously adopt and practice as part of their lifestyle choices. Healthy habits aim to improve and maintain good health, prevent diseases and illnesses, and enhance the quality of life.
These habits are typically based on evidence-based practices and recommendations from health professionals. They focus on activities and behaviors that support optimal physical health, mental well-being, emotional balance, and social connections. A healthy habit might involve anything from lowering the amount of sugary drinks you have each day to finding a new hobby that helps you manage your stress levels.
Healthy habits are not short-term or sporadic actions but rather sustained behaviors that are integrated into daily life. They require commitment, discipline, and a willingness to prioritize long-term health. By adopting and consistently practicing healthy habits, individuals can enjoy lifelong benefits and significantly improve their overall health and quality of life.
Healthy habits are essential for maintaining both physical and mental health. By incorporating good habits into our daily lives, we can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, improve our energy levels, and even role model healthy behaviors for our loved ones.
When we prioritize self-care and engage in activities that bring us joy, we are more likely to experience positive emotions and a sense of purpose. In other words, when you live healthier, you are also more likely to live happier and vice versa.
In an interview with the American Heart Association, psychiatrist Dr. Francoise Adan stated, "Being happy doesn’t just make us feel better, it improves our health. It helps us eat healthier, be more active, and sleep better¹.” The link between health and happiness is indisputable. Incorporating good habits into your life could help you experience the health benefits of happiness.
Now that you're an expert on the importance of healthy habits, let's start exploring a few examples of good habits that you can start practicing for yourself. Remember that a healthy lifestyle looks different for everyone, so you should talk to your doctor to figure out the right routine for you and your loved ones.
Regular exercise is one of the most essential healthy habits. Exercise has numerous benefits for both physical and mental health, such as improving cardiovascular health, boosting mood, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the risk of depression and anxiety.
To incorporate exercise into your daily routine, start by setting aside a few minutes each day for physical activity. This can be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood or practicing yoga in the morning.
Try not to turn exercise into a chore. If you do, you might be less likely to stick with your new habit. Find an activity that you enjoy or that you can do with your loved ones and make it a regular part of your routine.
Eating a balanced diet is another important healthy habit for managing long-term health conditions like high blood pressure, preventing weight gain, and promoting overall happiness². A balanced diet includes a variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
We know that changing to a healthier diet can be extremely difficult. If you find yourself struggling with this change, you may want to start by limiting the number of unhealthy foods you eat. Instead of bringing junk food for your lunch break, swap over to a healthy snack. Even the smallest of changes can help you take steps toward eating a healthy diet consistently.
It can also be challenging to eat healthy on a budget, but there are ways to make it more affordable. Consider buying in-season produce, shopping at farmers' markets, and creating a weekly meal prep plan that allows you to buy items in bulk to save money on healthy foods.
Adequate sleep is a crucial part of living a healthier life. Lack of sleep may lead to a range of health issues, such as kidney or heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and depression³.
To establish a healthy sleep routine, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Avoid caffeine and electronic devices before bedtime, as these can interfere with sleep quality.
If you regularly have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may want to:
Invest in comfier bedding.
Limit disruptive noises with white noise.
Adjust the temperature of your sleeping environment.
Stress can have many negative effects on the body and mind, such as increased risk of depression and anxiety, digestive issues, and decreased immune function. It is essential to practice stress management techniques to maintain good physical and mental health.
There are many techniques for managing stress, such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. Find one that works for you and try to work it into your routine whenever possible, especially during moments of increased stress.
Researchers found that simply taking a walk in the fresh air may be an effective way to relieve stress as well⁴. Focusing on your surroundings while outside can be a useful method to ground yourself in the present moment and calm racing thoughts associated with negative rumination.
Social connections are an often overlooked part of living a healthier life. Positive relationships with friends and loved ones can provide us with emotional support and a sense of belonging that helps with stress management.
To cultivate positive relationships, spend time connecting with friends and family on a regular basis. This can be as simple as having a weekly phone call with your sibling or meeting your best friend for coffee once a month.
Pursuing hobbies and interests can both provide us with a sense of purpose and help cultivate long-term happiness. Engaging in activities that we enjoy is a great way to reduce stress and improve our mental health.
Don't be afraid to explore a variety of interests, even if they are outside your usual comfort zone. When you find something you like to do, make it a regular part of your life.
Examples of fun hobbies to consider include:
Learning a new language.
Taking a dance class.
Reading a book by your favorite author.
Planting a garden.
Playing sports with friends.
Establishing a healthy work-life balance is an essential piece of stress management. Prioritizing self-care and setting healthy boundaries can help us avoid burnout and live happier in the long run.
It can be hard to leave your job behind for the day, especially with the ease of communication provided by our devices. Even if you love your job, it's still important to create a work-free space and allow yourself to truly rest.
It may be helpful to set a specific time after which you don't check emails until the next work day. Small habits like these help you focus on spending time with loved ones or unwinding in other ways. As a result, you may feel more fulfilled and energized in all areas of your life.
Practicing gratitude and positivity can give you a healthier perspective. When we focus on the good in our lives, we are more likely to experience positive emotions and a sense of purpose. It sounds like a small change, but it may make a big difference for your emotional wellness.
To practice gratitude and positivity, you can:
Keep a gratitude journal.
Make a list of things you are thankful for each day.
Praise or reward yourself for your accomplishments.
All it takes is a few minutes each day to start building a healthier life. If you find yourself struggling to incorporate healthy daily habits into your routine, we have put together a quick list of tips to help you ease the transition and expand out of your comfort zone:
Start slowly. Don't try to incorporate 8 different healthy habits at once. Start with 1 or 2 and gradually work your way up.
Choose what works for you. Don't force yourself into habits that don't make you happy. Although healthy habits often require discipline, they should not make you miserable.
Talk to your doctor. Those with health conditions may find it more difficult to bring in healthy habits like exercising or eating better meals. Your doctor can help you create a routine that works around your unique health needs.
By incorporating healthy habits into your daily life, you can improve your overall well-being and lead a happier, more fulfilling life. Remember to prioritize self-care, seek professional guidance from your doctor when needed, and always make time for the activities and people in your life that bring you joy.
(1) American Heart Association Editorial Staff (May 2020) How happiness affects health
(2) Wahl, Deborah R, et al (December 2017) Healthy food choices are happy food choices: Evidence from a real life sample using smartphone based assessments
(3) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (March 2022) What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?
(4) Bratman, Gregory N, et al (June 2015) Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal