I wanted to brainstorm habits to improve health because although it’s not your fault if you have inherited unhelpful habits, it is your responsibility to figure out how to adjust them in a meaningful way (as James Clear puts it).
How to Create New Habits
Before we go through my list of habits to improve your health, let’s discuss how to create a new habit. I don’t want you to look at the list and feel overwhelmed because of not knowing where to start.
Creating new habits can be challenging, but you can set yourself up for success with the right approach. Here are some tips to help you create new habits:
- Start small: Making too many changes at once can be overwhelming. Instead, start with one small habit you want to build, such as drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning.
- Use existing habits to your advantage: Habit stacking is my favorite way to create new habits. When you pick a new habit you want to create, think of how you can incorporate it into your daily routine by tacking it onto another habit. For example, when I decided to start oil pulling, I picked the time I make my coffee and unload the dishwasher to use for my oil pulling sessions.
- Be consistent: Consistency is key when creating a new habit. Try to do the habit daily at the same time or in the same situation. This will help it become automatic and part of your routine.
- Set clear goals: Define your habit and set a clear goal for what you want to achieve. For example, if you want to start a habit of exercising, define what type of exercise you want to do and how often you want to do it.
- Track your progress: Keeping track of your progress can help you stay motivated and see how far you’ve come. Use a habit tracker or calendar to mark off each day you complete your habit.
- Reward yourself: Celebrate your successes by rewarding yourself for sticking to your habit. This could be something as simple as treating yourself to your favorite snack or taking a relaxing bath.
Remember that creating new habits takes time and effort. Be patient and keep at it, even if you slip up occasionally. Over time, your new habit will become part of your daily routine and easier to maintain.
Picking Habits to Improve Health
I mentioned you need to start small. But how do you pick habits to improve health most suited to your lifestyle and goals?
Choosing the proper habits to improve your health can be a personal and individualized process. Here are some steps to help you pick habits that are most suited to your lifestyle and goals:
- Identify your goals: Think about what you want to achieve with your health habits. Do you want to lose weight, build muscle, reduce stress, or improve sleep? Identifying your goals will help you choose habits that align with them.
- Assess your lifestyle: Consider your current daily routine and lifestyle. What habits do you currently have that work for you, and which hinder your progress? Consider what changes you are willing to make and what is feasible, given your schedule and other commitments.
- Research and gather information: Look for credible sources of information about healthy habits and their benefits. Consider consulting with a healthcare professional or a qualified personal trainer to get tailored advice.
- Start small and build gradually: Choose one or two habits to focus on initially and start small. For example, if you want to improve your diet, add one serving of vegetables daily. Once you have mastered those habits, add more to your routine.
- Track your progress: Keep track of your progress using a habit tracker or journal. This will help you stay motivated and make adjustments as needed.
- Be patient and consistent: Creating healthy habits takes time and effort. Be patient and stay consistent, even if you slip up occasionally.
Remember that everyone’s journey toward better health is unique, so be open to experimentation and finding what works best for you. By making small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle, you can improve your health and achieve your goals over time.
Check out my 5-Day Yoga Habit Challenge to receive daily mini-coaching sessions about creating healthy habits.
15 Habits to Improve Health
You can incorporate numerous habits into your daily routine to improve your health. Let’s discuss 15 habits to help you achieve better physical and mental health.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is crucial to good health. Getting enough sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your immune system. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. To ensure a good night’s sleep, establish a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and create a sleep-conducive environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
I also found magnesium supplementation to help with sleep. Furthermore, the Apothe-Cherry has natural melatonin and helps me sleep more soundly. Lastly, waking up early and at the same time most days improves the quality of my sleep. Read How to Wake Up at 5 am and Create a Morning Routine to learn more.
2. Drink Enough Water
Drinking enough water is one of essential habits to improve health (along with sleep, of course). Water helps to flush out toxins, regulates body temperature, and keeps your joints lubricated. Most adults need at least eight cups of water daily, but your water needs may vary based on your activity level and climate.
I started seeing articles about the dangers of drinking too much water popping up online. I think not drinking enough is much easier than drinking too much! It looks like some health “experts” are looking for polarizing content to get more clicks!
3. Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
What are nutrient-dense foods?
Nutrient-dense foods contain a high amount of nutrients in proportion to their calorie content. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that our bodies need to function properly. Nutrient-dense foods can help support optimal health and prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Examples of nutrient-dense foods include:
- Leafy Greens: Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, calcium, and potassium. These greens are also low in calories and can be added to salads, smoothies, or sautéed as a side dish.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin C, folate, and fiber. They also contain sulfur compounds that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
- Berries: Berries like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries contain antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C. They are also low in calories and can be enjoyed as a snack, in smoothies, or as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal.
- Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and minerals such as magnesium and zinc. They can be added to salads and oatmeal or eaten as a snack.
- Herbs: Fresh herbs are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help boost overall health and prevent chronic diseases.
- Fish: Fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and improving heart health. Fish can be baked, grilled, or enjoyed in sushi rolls.
- Legumes: Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are excellent sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and minerals such as iron and potassium. They can be added to salads and soups or as a side dish. However, keep in mind that legumes may be an issue if you suffer from any autoimmune condition.
Learn more in my post Intermittent Fasting Food List: Yes And No Foods For Weight Loss Success. Eating a diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help support optimal health and prevent chronic diseases. It’s important to remember that no single food or nutrient can provide all the nutrients our bodies need, so it’s essential to eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
I created the following habits that improve health through nutrition: a daily salad, a daily Power Shake smoothie, and daily fresh juice. Enjoy my free Salad template by joining the free 5-Day Yoga Habit Challenge. Learn about the Power Shake here and get some fresh juice inspiration in my post Juice Fast for 3 Days (My Recipes and My Results).
4. Move Your Body
Regular exercise is essential to maintaining good physical and mental health. For me, movement is one of the most effective habits to improve health. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, boost your mood, and improve cardiovascular health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercises, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, most days of the week. I offer lots of free workouts. Here are some of my favorites:
- Best Yoga Upper Body Workout at Home: Full 20-Minute Routine
- Yoga for Weight Loss: 10 Yoga Poses for a Flat Belly
- Crazy Effective Hip Flexor Strengthening Exercises
- 5 Effective Yoga Poses for Strength and Flexibility
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and non-judgmentally observing your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve focus, and boost mental health. To practice mindfulness, try meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. Read Top 7 Reasons Why Mindfulness Is Important for additional help.
6. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude can help you feel happier and more satisfied with life. To practice gratitude, try writing down three things you are grateful for daily or expressing gratitude to others. Look for things to feel joy and gratefulness for.
Taking breaks and allowing yourself to rest is essential to maintaining good physical and mental health. Regular breaks throughout the day can help you recharge and improve your productivity while getting enough rest can help reduce stress levels and improve your mood. I take a break from my regular routine in the afternoon by doing a quick 15-minute yoga routine. You could go for a walk, sit back and read a book, or do anything that gives you joy.
8. Limit Screen Time
Spending too much time in front of screens can lead to eye strain, poor posture, and disrupted sleep patterns. To limit your screen time, try setting a timer for 30-60 minutes at a time, taking regular breaks to look away from the screen, and turning off screens at least one hour before bedtime. Sometimes, I must consciously decide to put my phone away and pick up a book instead. It’s easy to get into the habit of scrolling! We want to avoid that!
9. Foster Healthy Relationships
Staying connected with friends and family can help improve your mental health and provide a support system when needed. Make an effort to connect regularly with loved ones, whether it’s through phone calls, text messages, or in-person visits. I am an introvert with seven children, so I often feel like I want to avoid social gatherings. However, I find it nourishes my soul whenever I spend time with other like-minded people.
10. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Whether drinking alcohol in moderation can be part of a healthy lifestyle is a hot debate right now. Still, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to numerous health problems, including liver disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. To reduce your alcohol consumption, limit yourself to two drinks a week. Since 2020, alcohol consumption has been an issue for me. I gradually reduced it after a while. I am down to three drinks a month. The key is to decide ahead of time what you feel would be reasonable and stick to it. Read Abstinence Vs. Moderation: How To Make Better Health Choices for further help.
11. Practice Good Posture
Practicing good posture involves maintaining a neutral spine, engaging core muscles, keeping shoulders relaxed, distributing weight evenly on both feet, avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, and regularly stretching and strengthening muscles that support good posture. It’s a lot about learning to balance living in your body with living in your head. I struggle with living too much in my head, so I am still working on being present in my body. Here’s what I am doing to become more mindful of my body:
- Pay attention to those around you.
- Observe body language.
- Breathe in the smells.
- Notice small details in your surroundings.
- Be aware of your body and your posture.
- Notice if you are frowning.
You may also want to read How to Improve Your Posture to get some exercises to improve your posture.
12. Manage Stress
Managing stress can involve various strategies, such as practicing relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga), engaging in regular exercise, prioritizing self-care activities (such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and taking breaks), setting realistic goals, learning effective time management techniques, seeking social support, and seeking professional help if needed (such as seeing a therapist or counselor).
13. Practice Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting transformed my life! It enabled me to lose 30 pounds after 40 (read How I Lost Weight After 40: My Success Story), kick food cravings, reduce inflammation, and experience true food freedom! Now that I am at my goal weight, I don’t fast as frequently but still use intermittent fasting as tool to keep my blood sugar stable and my hormones balanced.
14. Eat Mindfully
Eating mindfully involves being fully present and engaged in the eating experience, paying attention to physical hunger and satiety cues, and savoring food’s taste, texture, and aroma.
To eat mindfully, you can try the following steps:
- Eliminate distractions: Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and find a quiet place to eat.
- Slow down: Take time to chew your food thoroughly, savoring the taste and texture of each bite.
- Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues: Eat when you are physically hungry and stop eating when you feel comfortably full.
- Engage your senses: Pay attention to your food’s colors, smells, and flavors.
- Practice gratitude: Take a moment to appreciate the effort and resources that went into producing your food.
- Be mindful of emotional triggers: Notice how your emotions may affect your eating habits and try to develop alternative coping strategies.
- Listen to your body: Learn to differentiate between physical hunger and emotional hunger and honor your body’s needs.
Practicing mindful eating can help you develop a healthier relationship with food, improve digestion, and reduce overeating and binge eating. Mindful eating is a key component of my Mind/Body Yoga Transformation Program.
I am not a type A person who is organized and loves charts. However, I did learn to plan in simple ways over the years. Planning takes a lot of stress off your daily life and is one of the habits I would suggest to improve health. There are various methods to plan even when you are not a planner:
- Daily routines: Routines are simply habits that you perform daily in the same order around the same time. They save you a lot of brain space.
- Daily planning: Each night, before going to bed, take stock of your tasks for the following day and ensure you have a plan of action to make the execution as pain-free as possible.
- Weekly planning: During the weekend, I like to plan the week by deciding when each of the main tasks I need to accomplish will be accomplished. For example, I plan when I will write my blog posts and the topics and when I will film and edit my videos. I take into account appointments, shopping trips, and other social commitments.
- Google Keep: Google Keep is my friend! The perfect tool for planning when you are not a planner! Anytime I plan my week or want to remember something important, I use Google Keep.
Habits to improve health are powerful yet simple. Pick one or two habits, decide how to include them in your daily routine, stack them on an existing habit, and stay consistent! You don’t need an all-or-nothing attitude to succeed. On the contrary, take one step at a time and keep track of your progress. That is how you keep going! If you want more help forming healthy habits, you will enjoy reading 5 Life-Changing Types Of Habits (With Examples).