New Year, New You: 4 Ways to Make Healthy Habits Stick
As we start a new year, reflections and resolutions will often lead to one common thread — being healthier. Everyone wants to be healthy, or healthier, and pursuing wellness habits is a great way to do so. Whether through diets, exercise, or healthy home habits to keep your home clean and sanitary for the new year, being healthy can help us become more productive and engaged in all other aspects of our lives, such as relationships and work. For instance, improving your space can be a much-needed change in your routine while also cutting down on your clutter. New habits, however, can be challenging to maintain, especially when they involve drastic changes. To start the year right, we’ll look at how to make healthy habits that stick:
Create a list of your motivations
Fueling your new healthy habits with purposeful motivations can go a long way in improving your quality of life. For example, weight loss is a common goal for people, but it can be emotionally challenging when you solely focus on how your body weighs. Instead, focus on an alternative motivation for weight loss, such as aiming to lower your blood pressure or getting more sleep. Growth, after all, is a human need, and we can all benefit from the feeling of improving something in our lives. Our goals become more enjoyable pursuits when we are motivated by internal rewards (i.e., being healthier) than by external and short-lived rewards (i.e., checking “work out” off your to-do list). You can also tie your motivations with what you love. When creating your weight loss plan, think about the things you want to enjoy with continued good health: Sunday brunches with friends, birthday cakes with your kids, and the like. These will help you stick to better habits like exercise and mindful snacking.
Take it one step at a time
The most critical approach to trying new things is to take things slow. We mentioned this in our post about starting a plant-based diet, particularly the struggle that comes with going from 0 to 100 on a new plan. Significant changes can be overwhelming. Taking it easy on your new healthy habits can bring more long-term results instead of tiring yourself out and discouraging you down the line. This doesn’t mean you should slack on your newfound health journey — instead of immediately cutting off things that you are used to, take your time to transition into the change. For a plant-based diet, start with cutting out dairy, then chicken once you’re ready, and so on. Giving yourself time to adjust isn’t lazy; it’s just being considerate of your body.
Every journey has its bumps, and unfortunately for new habits, it usually comes in the form of procrastination. Once the dust of your new habits has settled, it may seem mundane or repetitive, leading you to delay or postpone your workouts and meal planning for another day. Studies have found that people who procrastinate often experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, becoming hard on their selves. To counter procrastination, make it easier for you to do your healthy habits. For example, you should keep your workout equipment, in easily accessible places where they are ready to use at once, rather than having to be set up. Another good tip is to set a low time for your healthy habit. The 5-minute rule is a famous example. By committing just 5 minutes per day to your habit you are more likely to do it. And when you start you will likely spend more than 5 minutes doing it.
Celebrate your wins
Last but not least, don’t forget to reward yourself once in a while. You can set sub-goals under your main goal (i.e., “exercise twice a week for a month” under “becoming healthy”) and celebrate whenever you hit these milestones. Be wary of rewarding yourself with things that may set you back in your health journey. If you’ve been exercising regularly for a month, for example, binge-eating that cake in the fridge isn’t the best idea and may make you resent treating yourself later. Rewards should help further you towards your goals and not sabotage you. In fact, rewards can even be trivial things that bring you joy, like new running shoes. Most importantly, these rewards encourage you. They should make you happy and excited about committing to your healthy habits instead of hindering you.