Building new healthy habits is by no means easy. Establishing a new routine practice in your life takes dedication, patience and probably even a few failed attempts.
“There’s no auto-pilot for life,” explains Jared Heathman, M.D., a Texas-based psychiatrist. “Despite the best of intentions, creating large daily healthy habits is incredibly difficult. Very few people can schedule a trip to the gym every day and maintain a perfect diet.”
For this reason, he — and nearly every other wellness expert we’ve consulted — emphasized the importance of making small, gradual changes that can be progressively implemented into your day-to-day life.
This type of strategy is most effective because instead of trying to overhaul everything all at once, which for most is overwhelming and unsustainable — leading to frustration and ultimately failure, it allows you to adopt new habits at a an easy pace and that you’ll be more likely to maintain long-term.
This might not sound exciting, and maybe it even seems tedious, but the best part of embracing new healthy habits this way is that even the simplest practices —like those we’re about to share — can lead to big improvements in your overall well-being.
Here’s a look at 16 essential healthy habits that a wide range of health experts recommend adding to your routine.
Define Your Why
“You've got to establish the ‘why’ before moving to the ‘what’ and ‘how,’” said Greg Justice, a veteran personal trainer with more than 30 years of fitness industry experience and owner of AYC Health & Fitness. At first, this might seem like a one-time step that only needs to be taken at the beginning of your journey, but it’s actually more like a habit — something you should revisit and reestablish often. “If your ‘why,’ or motivation behind the life changes, is strong enough, you'll find the ‘what’ and ‘how’ will be successful,” Justice said. He encourages people to really dig deep in order to find internal motivators (your ‘why,’ or reasons for improving your health) that will offer long-term inspiration.
Set a Precedent at the Start of Each Day
By immediately starting each day “on the right foot,” with a simple habit like drinking a glass of water, practicing five minutes of yoga or meditating on a positive mantra, you can easily set the pace for the remainder of the day. Darshi Shah, C.N.T, C.P.T., I.N.H.C. , a certified health coach, board-certified nutritional therapist and author of upcoming book, R.I.G.H.T. Diet for Autoimmunity, recommends writing your thoughts in a journal each morning just after waking up. “Those first morning thoughts are soon forgotten otherwise, but they can bring anxiety and hinder your normal progress,” Shah said. “Once written down —never to be forgotten — changes start to occur within you and your vital energy that enable you to plan, communicate, and focus easier. And each night you can review how your day started.”