As humans, we are creatures of habit. Once we have developed a way of doing things and a daily routine, we like to stick with it. Since habits grow stronger the more they are performed, the behaviors shift from intentional to automatic. For this reason, changing habits and developing new ones, whether good or bad, can be very hard. When seeking a healthier lifestyle, the best place to start is by focusing on your current behaviors and what you find yourself doing when you aren’t thinking. If you’re ready to commit time to improving your lifestyle and forming new habits, we’ve compiled some tips to help you develop healthier habits in your life.
1. Do Your Research
Before making any changes to your current lifestyle or habits, you should collect as much information as possible. Knowing the initial steps needed to set yourself up for success is going to make you more prepared when starting a change. According to Dr. Lia Marsch from Dartmouth College, “the first step to changing your behavior is to create an awareness around what you do regularly.” Researching where you want to be and comparing it to where you are now is key to making a successful change.
A few examples of habits that lead to a healthier lifestyle include:
- Eating A Balanced Breakfast
- Drinking Water
- Exercising Regularly
- Meal Prep
- Practicing Clean Eating
- Unplugging From Electronics
- Getting Enough Sleep
- Removing Sugar From Your Diet
- Participating in Yoga
- Stretching Daily
- Establishing a Daily Routine
2. Analyze Current Habits
After you’ve decided on the new habits that you’d like to adopt, the next step is to determine your current habits. You may already be incorporating elements of a healthy lifestyle into your routine. One way to make developing new habits easier is to stack your habits, or tie new ones into existing ones. This helps you remember your new habit since you are already in the routine of doing something similar. For example, if you are already in the habit of meal prepping your lunches for the week, you could start preparing breakfasts as well to get you in the habit of eating a balanced breakfast. That way, when you grab a prepared lunch for that day, you will be reminded to take the breakfast you prepared as well.
3. Plan Ahead
Creating a plan to achieve your goals will not only help you develop your habits, but sustain them down the line. Utilizing small, specific and achievable goals will encourage you to stay on track and eventually reach bigger goals. For example, how can you change the environment around you to support your goals? Perhaps you move healthy snacks to an eye level shelf in the pantry or reroute your daily commute so the gym is on your way. Planning to slowly remove unhealthy distractions is one way to help you reach small goals without feeling overwhelmed.
Ready to make your plan for a healthier life? Here is a good place to start:
- Step 1: Start Easy and Small – Meditate for 1 minute per day
- Step 2: Gradually Increase – Meditate for 1 hour per day
- Step 3: Break Goals Into Chunks – Meditate for 30 minutes after you wake up and 30 minutes before you go to sleep
- Step 4: Get Back Up After You Fail – If you miss a day of meditating, start again the next day
- Step 5: Find A Sustainable Pace – If meditating every day becomes too much, meditate consistently every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
4. Don’t Give Up
In order to stay motivated and on track with your new habits, it’s important to be patient with yourself. Understanding that it can be difficult to not only form, but also maintain, new habits is crucial to your success moving forward. One way to ensure you stay on track is to share your goals with a support system. Whether it be starting a hydration challenge with friends, sharing your new habits with your spouse for accountability or finding a like-minded support group, there are many ways to lean into those around you for encouragement.
Of course there may be factors like unforeseen personal circumstances, health problems and new responsibilities that will get in the way of sustaining a healthier lifestyle. It’s okay if your progress doesn’t go exactly as planned, but what’s most important is to continue pushing forward.