You know that making healthy choices can help you feel better and live longer. Maybe you’ve already tried to eat healthier, get more exercise or sleep, quit smoking, cut back on drinking, or reduce stress. It’s not easy, but you can boost your ability to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle by being aware of your habits first, and then assessing which ones you want to change.
In my book, The Rewired Life, I discuss how to create healthy habits and increase self-care for the mind, body, and spirit. What I came to find out was this: no one is hard-wired, and everyone can create new habits at any given time. You just have to be consistent to let the pathways in your brain rewire in healthy directions.
Here are some ways you can start creating healthier habits today:
-Plan. Identify unhealthy patterns and triggers. Set realistic goals. Write down steps to help you achieve them. The more specific the better. Buy a planner or create a day-to-day schedule.
-Change your surroundings. Find ways to make healthy, easy choices. Remove temptations. Examine who is in your life. Do they have beneficial habits? Do they have a negative influence on you? Try to surround yourself with positive people who will support your new habit.
-Ask for support. Find friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, or groups for support, or ask people to join you. Being held accountable is great when trying to create better practices. A workout buddy or therapist who can check in with you on your goals is always helpful.
-Fill your time with healthy activities. Try exercise, a favorite hobby, being artistic, puzzles, reading, hiking, or spending time with family and friends.
-Track your progress. Record how things are going to help you stay focused and catch slip-ups. Journaling is a perfect way to see your progress. We forget things day to day, and writing everything down helps.
-Imagine the future. Think about future benefits to stay on track. Play out the tape. Envision your goal daily. (I just had a baby and am envisioning getting into my old jeans—yay!)
-Reward yourself. Give yourself a nice reward when you’ve achieved a small goal or milestone, like getting a massage or scheduling some “me” time. Stay home and binge your favorite Netflix show or buy concert tickets for your favorite band (once quarantine is over, of course). There are so many fun and creative ways to reward ourselves.
-Be patient. Most importantly, remember that improvement takes time, and setbacks happen. Focus on progress, not perfection!