Health doesn’t come from quick fixes or one-off changes. Fad diets and short-lived health trends won’t do much for your overall well-being. Health comes from consistent, steady choices deliberately crafted to cultivate each area of wellness.
Most people have a more challenging time starting healthy habits than they do quit bad ones. That’s right, for many, it’s easier to ditch an addictive substance like nicotine than it is to commit to a five-minute meditation every night.
Before you can start creating new routines, it might help do an audit of your current life. Take a step back and assess your day-to-day routine. What does your diet look like? Have you been getting enough sleep? Enough exercise?
How does your routine now compare to your life before the global pandemic? Many healthy habits have been casualties of the global crisis. Stress keeps people awake at night,¹ gyms are closed, and you probably aren’t out in the sun with your friends, soaking up that much-needed vitamin D.
Once you’ve identified the weak points in your wellness plan, you can start focusing on establishing new healthy habits that will carry you through these tough times and beyond. Here are some tips on how to commit to a healthy routine.
Just because something is a routine doesn’t mean it has to happen every day. Be aware of your schedule and commitments. It’s okay if your health routine doesn’t look like anyone else’s; it isn’t supposed to.
Your healthy habits may have to undergo some changes over time. Don’t see these adjustments as failures, and be sure to forgive yourself if you do slip up. There’s nothing to be gained from being overly self-critical.
An overly ambitious set of goals can end up hindering your wellness plan. If you try to make too many significant changes at once, you will wear yourself out. You are more prone on committing mistakes the more intense your goals are, and you want to avoid failures, even if that means lowering your expectations of yourself.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for the gusto with your plan for a new and improved you; just be sure you’re setting realistic targets for yourself. You will feel more motivated and positive about reaching a modest goal than you will about just barely falling shy of an intense goal.
It takes months² to form a new habit. It can take even longer for some people, so don’t despair if your new habits don’t “click” right away. You’ll get there!
To avoid frustration, try setting short-term, specific goals for yourself. You want to be able to see tangible results that you can reward yourself for. Instead of simply not buying your morning latte to “save money,” give yourself a goal of how much money you want to save over a week, a month, or several months and then keep track. You’ll stick with your new habit longer, guaranteed.
Examine the habits you’ve already formed. Do you drink a glass of wine before bed? Are you in the habit of showering on your lunch break? Whatever your existing habits are, try to co-opt them for the healthy habits you want to create.
For example, you can strengthen your intellectual wellness by learning a new language. There are plenty of online courses or helpful apps³ that can get you fluent with just a few minutes a day. However, making that time in your schedule can be tricky. So why not simply piggyback your daily learning onto another habit? If you’re a nightly wine or cocoa drinker, slip a little Duolingo into your beverage time.
The possibilities are endless, and new habits are always more manageable if you sneak them into old routines.
Your well-being is composed of 8 different categories, each with its own needs and each reliant upon the others. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness are:
It’s a good idea to create habits that address each of these dimensions. Again, don’t try to do everything at once. Instead, craft a long-term wellness plan that takes every area of your health into account.
There is never a wrong time to start taking steps towards a healthier you. If you’re waiting for the perfect time to start forming healthy habits, then you’ll be waiting forever. There will always be stress and unexpected life events, so try to make the most of this time and move forward. Remember, you don’t have to reinvent yourself completely; just start making some progress towards a healthier life.
(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (January 22 2021) Coping with Stress
(2) Phillippa Lally, Cornelia HM; van Jaarsveld, Henry WW; Potts, Jane Wardle (July 16 2009) How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world
(3) Harasewich, Tosha (June 1, 2021) The 10 Best Language Learning Apps That Really Work