How to Create – and Maintain – Healthy Habits
The beginning of a new year is often met with a sense of eagerness to set goals and create new habits. The promise of a fresh start is invigorating. For many, this means mapping out goals to achieve a healthier lifestyle, such as eating better or incorporating more exercise. While well intentioned, taking what’s written on paper and putting it into practice can be challenging. Even more difficult yet, making that change a habit. If this sounds all too familiar, know you’re not alone, and there are simple steps you can take to achieve your goals.
Accountability is key
Busy schedules, competing priorities, and a lack of consistency and accountability all take a toll on our ability to create healthy habits. While each of these barriers can create a roadblock in your health and wellness journey, setting small goals and creating accountability will keep you moving down the right path.
Before setting any goals, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Is it incorporating more exercise? Getting a handle on nutrition? Improving your mental and emotional health? Behavior change doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a gradual process. Consider aligning your goals with the seven pillars of lifestyle medicine, a holistic approach to healthcare that promotes health behavior change. Lifestyle medicine focuses on nutrition, sleep, emotional wellbeing, movement, getting outdoors, living a life free from substances, and maintaining healthy relationships. Read on for tips that align with the seven pillars to help take your health to the next level.
Nutrition/Hydration: The nutrition pillar of lifestyle medicine focuses on the value of improving eating habits. You can make big changes by simply being mindful of your choices throughout the day.
Healthy habit tip: Start by incorporating more fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains into your daily routine. Make water your preferred beverage.
Movement and Getting Outdoors: Move more, sit less, enjoy fresh air, and spend time in nature. Focus on incorporating physical activity into your weekly routine. Remember, it’s OK to start small.
Healthy habit tip: Be mindful of how often you sit during the day. Make a habit to take a break from sitting every 30 minutes, such as taking a walking break or choosing to take the stairs.
Stress Management: The number of people experiencing burnout or battling a mental health issue continues to rise, which makes self-care a top priority. Don’t ignore your emotional wellbeing. Focus on positivity, meaningful relationships, and surround yourself with a healthy community.
Healthy habit tip: Create self-care goals, such as learning to say no and making time for yourself. Enjoy some fresh air – studies show wellbeing improves after spending 30 minutes outside.
Cultivating Healthy Relationships: Social connectedness is a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle. Isolation can lead to a number of health issues, which emphasizes the need for strong community.
Healthy habit tip: Take time to build healthy relationships. Connect with your neighbors, a community group, or take time to volunteer. Be sure to nurture your relationships over time.
Sleep: In a 24/7 connected society, we’re constantly flooded with things vying for our attention. Sleep can take a back seat as a result. The sleep pillar emphasizes the importance of getting 7-8 hours of restful sleep every day.
Healthy habit tip: Make sure your environment is right for sleep. Eliminate bedroom noise and power down your technology.
Substance Free: We all know living a life free of tobacco products, illegal drugs, prescription drug abuse or misuse, and excess alcohol is best to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When these things permeate our lives, we are at greater risk for certain health challenges, such as lung and liver cancer.
Healthy habit tip: If you’re struggling with any form of substance abuse, seek help. Surround yourself with accountability partners, such as support groups, family, friends, or counselors.
Setting small, achievable goals is the first step to changing past unhealthy behaviors or introducing new healthy habits. It’s important to remember that YOU are the most important piece of the puzzle. Incorporating lifestyle medicine pillars or collaborating with a wellness coach can help get you started, but motivation comes from within.
With accountability, determination, and a drive to succeed, you can make better choices that could lead to an overall healthier life. You’ve got this!
Premise Health embraces and promotes lifestyle medicine as part of our holistic approach to disease prevention, management, improvement, and reversal by performing regular member lifestyle risk assessments. Learn more here.