Last updated on July 9th, 2022 at 05:51 pm
Today we’re talking about 7 healthy habits to start for a healthy mind and body! When you practice these simple daily habits every day for a month or longer, you will drastically improve your mental and physical health. So, go get or create a habit tracker, change your daily routine and start living a healthier life today!
Pretty much since the start of 2020 I’ve been coughing and sitting here at home feeling sorry for myself. It’s been almost a week now and I haven’t had human interaction in person other than with the ladies at the grocery store. And all they say to me is “go away”. Probably because I look insane and possibly smell pretty bad, even though I’m still taking showers. Can’t promise I’ll keep it up for the rest of 2020.
To get myself a bit more motivated, and a lot less whiny, I decided to do some actual research, practice some actual thinking and find some good daily habits for better health that can help all of us.
2022 Update: I obvioulsy wrote this in Jan ’20 and woah, hahaha, like I just, I want to keep it in here for the world to see.
How To Build Healthy Habits
I could recite some of the tips from the amazing book “Atomic Habits”, which I totally read until the end and didn’t fall asleep on page 78 several times. (My fault, not the author’s). But here’s the most important thing when it comes to building new good habits: It has to be something you enjoy. Something that challenges you and makes you feel good about yourself on a daily basis.
Forget about building habits in order to get from point A to point B…to just reach a goal. Goals are not our lives. Our habits make the majority of our days and our lives. We don’t like to be miserable. In fact, we tend to avoid it. So we need to enjoy what we do on a regular basis.
It’s essential to challenge yourself, but challenge yourself with something that you see a quick benefit from or that you like doing for whatever reason.
For example, I started doing 5 minutes of planks every day for a month. Now, I don’t like doing planks at all. It’s boring, my wrists and shoulders hurt and I sweat. But I love that my core feels tighter on the same day already. I’m even more excited about the fact that I am disciplined enough to practice the habit that I struggle with for one more day. Being disciplined makes me happy and motivates me, because that’s who I want to be. I respect disciplined people, I think discipline actually makes us better individually and as a community and I think the world is far better when we’re all disciplined about our own lives.
I realize that there’s a goal beyond that that I could be reaching (like having a stronger core), but that goal won’t make me plank for 5 minutes every day. Proving to myself that I am someone who’s disciplined daily…that’s what’s actually important to me.
So find out who you want to be and do the activities that can prove you are that person every day. Do you want to be more calm and less reactive? Do you want to be more joyful and spontaneous? Find something you can do every day that makes you feel this way.
7 Healthy Habits To Do Every Day
I hope this list of habits inspires you to make some positive changes in your life, here we go.
Daily Habit #1: Savor
The habit of savoring is linked to improved well-being, resilience, and reduced levels of depression (source). Savoring is noticing positive things in your life when they happen and being aware of those positive feelings.
Always Scanning For That Next Thing
I noticed a change in my behavior during the last maybe 2 years and I’m working on changing it back because I don’t like where this is going. I observed that I almost never take the time to appreciate when I’m really enjoying something. Like, I don’t make the effort to extend the moment. To save it in my memory if you know what I mean. If I’m sitting at a pool with my friends, laughing, beautiful weather – I’m okay for like 5 minutes and then I have the urgency to get up and start doing something “productive”. Even when there’s nothing to do. Sometimes, it’s not even productive and I’m just hunched over a phone looking for something mysterious.
When I go on my daily walks I kinda noticed I’m doing it more because I want to get 10,000 steps in and not because the sun is out and it’s basically beautiful outside and I feel so good and so happy to be alive. It seems like I’ve forgotten what it is to savor, to take time and appreciate the moment for what it is. Kinda stop time for a little bit and take a mental picture. I used to be so good at this all my life, now I’m always on to the next one like Jay Z. And I don’t like it.
Turns out it’s an unhealthy habit too. Because it always makes you want more and creates this stress and urgency inside that is ironically neither healthy, nor productive.
This can relate to food, exercise, body image – to me obviously it’s something with staying busy, which sucks. But it can lead to overeating, overexercising, overworking…you get the point. We need to start savoring and appreciating the good things happening to us at the very moment they occur.
Sit There And Allow Yourself To Savor
If you’re sitting there eating a delicious pizza, don’t scroll on your phone and feel guilty about it. Be fully content with the fact that you’re not eating a kale salad, but actual tasty pizza and that it’s really good and you’re not hurting anyone by enjoying it and making a note of that.
Daily Habit #2: Move
A well-hidden secret here: movement, any type of it, is beneficial for your cardiovascular, brain, bone, mental and systemic health. It is the single, most important habit that helped our brains evolve over time.
According to this literature review:
“Clinical evidence has demonstrated that exercise has a positive relationship with the outcome of different mental diseases, such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, improving not only patients’ quality of life but the disease itself.”
When you think about it, this is huge. The reason why exercise is the one habit that everyone can’t seem to stop talking about (no matter how fit that person looks) is that it’s that effective. It has immediate effects.
You just have to commit to doing it daily and find the right type of exercise for you. Maybe one day you go to a fitness class, or to the gym, another day you do yoga at home, maybe most days you just go for those 10,000 steps while savoring the time spent outside.
We’ve Stopped Moving
Exercise is the one thing that we’ve increasingly stopped doing over the centuries. We’ve got cars, we’ve got planes, we’ve got grocery stores and we’ve got computers. Those weren’t there about 200 years ago. Today there’s no need to go and walk. We don’t even need to go outside. But moving is in our nature, it’s what formed us.
Daily Habit #3. Cook
Cooking is one of those habits I never think about, but I’m super grateful for in my life. I had to start cooking for myself when I was a teenager. My mom was never at home and the only way I could eat something different than pizza was if I made it myself.
This hobby continued throughout my twenties and is really like second nature to me now. Not only does cooking help me eat healthier and challenges me to be creative, but it’s also helping me release some stress every day and it connects me to others. Obviously, I share many recipes here on this blog, but also in person. There’s nothing like sharing a meal with your family and friends and letting them tell you how good it was or you know “it’s fine”. Or blugh.
When you cook, you have the chance to design something the way you really want it. And because you need to eat every day, you get to practice every day and become great at it. You get to be the maker “behind the scenes”.
Starting To Eat And Cook Healthier
Now, if you’d like to start cooking more and healthier meals, I’d like to invite you to check out my clean eating binder here. It’s full of easy healthy recipes (some from the blog, some brand new), healthy eating, living and cooking tips as well as printables to help you develop good habits and stay on track with your diet.
I know I sound like a commercial, but I really love this binder and know it can help you if you’re overcomplicating simple things like eating healthier. It can teach you how to cook better and easier and how to eat healthy without counting calories or macros or anything at all. If you need a tool like this recipe binder, and decide to check it out and order it, use the code NTB20 for 20% off.
Daily Habit #4: Cultivate Positivity
Becoming a more positive person will improve your life in many ways, one of them is by improving your health. The ability to stay positive and to find pleasure in life is linked to better immune function, cardiovascular health, decreased pain and lower mortality risk (source).
Much like savoring, cultivating positivity is about being aware and getting excited when something positive happens, happened or will happen in your life. It’s about not playing it down and always trying to see the good in any situation.
How To Cultivate Positivity:
- practice gratitude – this can be by writing down your wins for the day, week and month. I think by now we’ve all heard about how gratitude can change our lives and I think it’s time to stop talking about it and to embrace it as a weekly practice. You can do this by writing thank you notes, keeping a gratitude journal, counting blessings or praying. If you want to read more about the research on gratitude check out this article by Harvard Health Publishing.
- intentionally switch your thinking. We often automatically think about the negative things. Sometimes this can get out of control leading to anxiety and depression. So whenever those negative thoughts come up, notice them, say “this is not real” and switch that thought. Start reminding yourself of moments that made you feel really happy. Or start imagining things that you actually want that will make you feel joy and excitement and start feeling those feelings as you imagine. You’ll need to practice this over and over and over again, but at some point it will become a habit.
- seek solutions, not problems. if you’re always coming up with excuses for why you’re not able to do something you want, start thinking about solutions. Instead of saying “I can’t lose weight, because I don’t have time to cook.”, start looking for ways to 1) find time to cook healthy meals 2) other ways to lose weight that you can integrate into your lifestyle (like walking more, taking standing breaks from sitting, intermittent fasting, drinking more water) and start being intentional about those things. Because who knows – they’ve worked for many others, they might just work for you too – you simply need to try for a long enough period of time.
Daily Habit #5: Nourish Good Relationships, Starve Bad Ones
Good relationships help us cope better with everyday stress and as part of a community keep us accountable to basically take care of ourselves. This results in better mental health and cardiovascular health. (source)
A meta-analysis of over 148 studies from 2010 found “a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships”. They found that the influence of social relationships on mortality risk and health outcomes was comparable to smoking and alcohol consumption. It was greater than the influence of physical exercise and obesity.
So we need to put in the effort. Every day, make time to maintain, build and improve relationships with your friends, family, coworkers, and complete strangers! Give those potential psychopaths a chance – you might win a friend for life.
We stay connected online, yet keep isolating ourselves more and more
I just remember when my grandma was alive and needed something for cooking, she went to her neighbor to ask for it. They’d talk for like 10-20 minutes every day. They weren’t best friends, but they’d be there for each other. She had so many other relationships like that. Everyone knew everyone in that village and nobody was left out.
Today, when I need something, I go to the store. Many people order online. More and more of us work remotely. Even if we don’t…I remember working at an agency and the communication happened through Outlook or whatever software there was and people would look at me like a weirdo when I show up next to them and want to talk in person.
Same when I was working at a laboratory, everyone with their best friend – the computer. Human connection and spontaneity are vanishing and we’re growing apart. We eat lunches at our desks looking at our phones and you better not “waste” our precious time with a friendly conversation. Because time is not only money, but it’s our life, right?
We’re torn between working as a team, a community, and trying to be the best by competing with each other and comparing ourselves. Being social and working together is in our nature. And as I mentioned – it might be worth it more for your health than your 1-hour session at the gym.
Avoid Unhappy Relationships
On the other hand, you need to avoid or work on improving bad relationships. Unhappy relationships can really mess up your health. And not just mental health your physical health as well.
Research has shown that couples who are unhappily married or who have fights often also show signs of increased systemic inflammation and delayed wound healing – which is an essential process for good health.
A very interesting study compared the healing of blister wounds for couples in good relationships and couples in bad relationships after a fight. The wounds of the bad relationship couples healed slower – at 60% the rate of the good relationship couples. Yes, their wounds took almost twice as long to heal! (See research here). Which is insane, because wound healing is at the base of good health, it’s crucial to stay alive.
People in unhappy relationships also have on average higher blood pressure (risk is increased 3-fold) and a 25-times higher risk for major depression than people in happy relationships. (source)
Daily Habit #6: Give Yourself Space
Take time off! Sometimes I find a little scalp massage is the way to go, other days I wonder why I don’t sleep more. Allow your mind, your body, your soul and your scalp to recover from working so much.
Throw that phone away (don’t forget to be dramatic about it!) and do something fun or don’t do anything at all. Go sit outside, read a book, dream, look at old photos, call a friend… Relax your mind and your body, give yourself space. There’s plenty of time to learn, to do, to create and to watch.
Daily Habit #7: Be Kind!
Be a kind human! Kindness will open more doors for you than you could ever imagine. Being genuinely kind to others, and ourselves, makes us feel good and warm inside and it’s good for our health too. Much like gratitude, kindness will help you feel more connected, optimistic and it will reduce levels of anxiety, especially social anxiety. (source)
So when you wake up tomorrow and start feeling like you don’t want to face the world and everyone’s in your way, you start feeling guilty and get really impatient…Remind yourself: there’s always room and time to be kind. Studies show you don’t need to be kind to others ALL THE TIME but to stay healthy and happy you need to do at least 3 acts of kindness per week (source).
Well, if you’ve made it this far – 1. Thank you for coming here and for your time and attention – I really appreciate it! and 2. As I mentioned earlier, I hope these inspired you to take action today and to be more intentional about the way you live your life, it really makes a difference!