The end of the year is usually a good time to reflect on how the year has gone and consider building healthy habits to make the coming year even better.
We all dream of being wealthy, healthy, and successful in life. Yet, our bad habits may be hindering us from reaching our goals and a better life.
We compromise our health in exchange for junk food, carbonated beverages, and a sedentary lifestyle. We waste our money by buying too much stuff and amassing huge credit card debt along the way.
Learning to adopt new healthy habits may sound easy at first. However, it is not about how quickly you can learn to develop healthy habits. It’s a matter of how consistent you are in maintaining your good habits.
In this article, you will understand the importance of building good health habits and the different ways you can adopt to build the habits.
You will also learn how to develop healthy lifestyle habits to help you achieve your goals, dreams, and aspirations.
How & Why Should I Start Building Healthy Habits?
Our primitive instincts are controlled by the oldest part of our brain, called the reptilian brain. Our reptilian brain is responsible for our survival instinct, and it dislikes changes.
It is meant to preserve as much energy as possible while ensuring the body is safe.
The problem with counting on our willpower to make good choices in life is not a long-term solution. Our reptile brain prefers automation, and our willpower is usually depleted around midday.
As a result, we tend to put off crucial decisions and activities that will result in a better approach to life.
Everybody has their definition of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle usually consists of good habitual behaviors and actions that people do daily. In other words, healthy lifestyle habits are the foundation of life.
10 Benefits of Building Healthy Habits
Those who are diligent in practicing their healthy habits consistently will enhance their quality of life in the long run.
With enough discipline and persistence, the good habits you practice will become second nature to you.
Below is a list of 10 benefits you’ll start enjoying when you develop healthy habits:
- You’ll avoid excessive excess weight gains and have a strong and physically fit body
- You’ll be able to combat certain diseases and prevent health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure…
- Improved mood and reduced your stress levels
- Increased chance of longer life
- You’ll discover the best version of yourself and become the person you want to be
- Keeping focus and staying on track to reach your big goals and aspirations
- Increased quality of your life and better mental and physical health
- Good energy boost, ensuring you can maintain optimal energy levels for a more extended amount of time.
- Raise in your self-esteem and sense of self-worth
- Increased productivity and performance level in everything you do
9 Ways for Building Healthy Habits
When changing habits, start small. Aim to make minor adjustments toward the behavior you want.
James Clear, the author of the book “Atomic Habits,” notes that if you improve 1% each day for a year, you will be 37 times better at what you do a year later.
Hence, it’s critical to remember that we are looking for consistent improvement, not quick wins when changing habits.
When compounded over days, months, and years, your healthy habits will create a massive positive impact on your life.
Goals and habits are two different things
You need to know how to differentiate them. Goals are usually the results you desire to achieve, such as the level of weight you want. Habits are the behaviors you perform to accomplish the goal. Working out 30 minutes a day is an example of the habit you adopt to reach your goal.
When changing habits, start small
Aim to make minor adjustments toward the behavior you want. James Clear, the author of the book “Atomic Habits,” notes that if you improve 1% each day for a year, you will be 37 times better at what you do a year later.
Hence, it’s critical to remember that we are looking for consistent improvement, not quick wins when changing habits. When compounded over days, months, and years, your habits will create a massive positive impact on your life.
Change your environment
Focus on changing your environment to push you towards your new habits while discouraging the old ones. For example, if you want to start working out every morning, you can prepare your exercise clothes every night before bed.
Make new habits a part of your daily routine.
A common technique that you can use to tie your new habits to your existing routine is: “After…, I shall…”. For example, “After I wake up at 6.00 am, I will work out for 15 minutes.”. This straightforward approach ensures you consistently practice your new habit every day.
You can start writing down a list of new healthy habits you want to incorporate into your life and tie it to your existing routines. If you do that, you will slowly develop good habits to replace old or bad habits.
Having some practice is always better than none at all.
On days when you feel lazy or too busy with work, you may not have the time or energy to practice your new habits. Instead of skipping the habit, you can consider doing a shorter version of the patterns.
Too busy to do 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise? Do a 10-minute weight-bearing exercise instead. No time to read 20 pages of a book? Read five pages. Remember that consistency is the key. Without consistency, new habits cannot be formed, and you will eventually fall back to your old habits.
Find an accountability buddy
It can be your partner, best friend, or anyone you trust. Share with the person that you are starting a new habit. Having an accountability partner will make it more difficult for you to back out of your commitment.
You can set a weekly (depending on your preference) catch-up session to update your accountability partner on your progress. An accountability partner can also provide you with words of encouragement and keep you on track to achieve your goals.
Track Your Progress and Habits
Whether you are setting goals or changing a new habit, it is crucial that you have a system to keep track of them. You can track your habits in your habit tracker journal, calendar, or Excel spreadsheet.
If you are more tech-savvy, you may also consider using habit-tracking apps on your phone or computer. It can be satisfying to keep track of your habits. Maintaining a habit streak may also motivate some individuals to continue practicing the habit to keep the streak alive.
Celebrate your accomplishments
Healthy habits have a long-term positive effect that takes time to manifest. While waiting for the long-term benefits to kick in, it is crucial to reward yourself to keep you motivated.
Celebrating little wins is essential as it allows you to pay attention to the changes and new habits you are practicing in the present moment. Sometimes the journey to success is more meaningful than reaching the final destination.
Practice your habits daily
A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that the time it took for a habit to become automatically varied from 18 to 254 days. The average length of time was 66 days!
The takeaway message is that healthy habits take time to develop. But habits will develop faster when we practice them daily, so start small and simple.
For example, instead of setting a challenging goal of going to the gym five times a week, you can start with more straightforward exercises, such as jumping jacks, doing planks, or pumping. Once these exercises become a habit, you can then experiment with new, more strenuous types of exercise.
How to Develop Healthy Lifestyle Habits?
Decide your why
You need compelling and solid reasons as to why you want to form new healthy habits in your life. Otherwise, you risk wasting your time and effort working on changing habits that never stick.
As you decide what good habits to incorporate into your life, make the habit you attempt to establish a part of your larger purpose worth the fight. If you tie your new practices to the ultimate lifestyle you desire, you will be far more likely to overcome any challenges you face to get it done.
So keep reflecting and asking yourself “why” until you get to the bottom of WHY you want to start a new healthy habit or break an old one. Once you find out your WHY, make sure to write it down. Then, stick it in a place where you will see it daily.
Know Your Habits
Activities you do regularly, such as brushing your teeth or watching TV after dinner, can become habits. Repetitive actions that give you pleasure can significantly affect your brain. The more you do these activities, the more likely they will become habits challenging to break.
Once these actions become habits, they will operate automatically. The first step is to become conscious of what you do regularly to develop healthy habits. List down the activities you do every day from when you wake up until you go to bed.
After listing them down, identify the triggers to the harmful habits you wish to modify. Then, you can start developing strategies to replace the unhealthy habits and replace them with better ones.
Create a system
Whether attempting to break a bad habit or practice a good one, each one requires a different approach. More importantly, you should not rely on your willpower and motivation. Motivation and willpower are limited and unreliable resources that will desert you during dire situations.
You need to take willpower and motivation out of the equation. Instead, start setting up systems and external factors to help you develop your healthy habits. Take a look at where and which activities you spend most of your time on.
This knowledge allows you to adjust your surroundings to develop a new habit or change an old one. You can then reduce the steps between you and a healthy routine while increasing the steps between you and an unhealthy habit.
With the system in place, you will be less dependent on willpower and motivation to practice good habits or avoid negative ones.
Make a Plan
You need to have the plan to incorporate healthy habits into your life. Make sure your plans contain short, attainable goals and specific action steps. Think about what is necessary to be successful or achieve your goals.
How can you influence your environment to help you achieve your goals? You may need to replace all your unhealthy snacks with healthy snacks or change your morning routine.
It is also critical to prepare yourself for any potential roadblocks. Consider what can impede your best attempts to live a healthier lifestyle. How can you continue to make healthy choices when confronted with unexpected circumstances, under stress, or swayed by your old habits?
Think About the Future
Some people may find it more difficult to resist their cravings and urges than others. Their need to fulfill their temptations can lead to overeating, substance abuse, excessive drinking, and unsafe sexual conduct.
To prevent these risky behaviors, you need to learn how to practice delayed gratification. You can learn by visualizing the positive emotions, experiences, and rewards you can enjoy without giving in to your cravings and temptations.
Practicing delayed gratification can also help you make long-term decisions that are more beneficial for you. Focusing on how a change can make you healthier and improve your lifestyle might help.
Imagine if you quit smoking, your chance of having a heart attack decreases within a day. You get to enjoy healthier relationships when you reduce your stress level. Making an effort to change your diet or start an exercise regime can minimize your health risks and increase your life expectancy.
Bonus Tip: Creating Healthy Habits Worksheet
Only by consistently taking action toward our objectives every day can they become a reality. You may refer to this healthy habits worksheet to help you build a set of habits that you can instill in your life.
We have separated the worksheet into three steps, which are as follows:
- Identifying your current habits
- Breaking bad habits
- Forming new and healthier habits
Step 1: Examine your current habits.
The goal here is to make a list of everything you do daily, both positive and negative. List down the unhealthy habits you are currently practicing, such as watching TV, smoking, and skipping breakfast. Also, consider the positive habits, such as having deep REM sleep, exercising, journaling, etc.
Step 2: Breaking Bad Habits.
According to Charles Duhigg, a habit results from a small cycle that we repeat many times throughout the day. The process is:
The reward for most habits is a short-term positive feeling or outcome. We have to devise a strategy to avoid triggers and use rewards to break bad habits. You can begin by making a list of the triggers and rewards for the three most critical unhealthy habits you listed above.
For each trigger, write down three possible solutions to overcome it. List the long-term benefits you can gain for not performing an unhealthy habit for each reward.
Step 3: Forming new and healthier habits.
Developing new habits to replace old ones takes an average of 66 days. Once the new habits become automatic to you, they will become a part of your daily routine. Creating new habits, on the other hand, may be more challenging.
It is recommended that you set rewards at specific milestones when practicing new and healthier habits. For example, if you can commit to exercising for 10-minutes daily for a week, you can treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant.
You can list down three new healthy habits that you want to start instilling in your life. Write down the long-term advantages you get to enjoy by practicing these habits daily.
Also, consider listing the long-term consequences of not performing these habits daily. Then, you can develop an action plan to minimize or navigate around your unhealthy habit triggers.
Make a list of at least three short-term rewards you can treat yourself for sticking to your new habits.
Frequently Asked Questions About Building Healthy Habits in 2022
10 healthy habits to follow everyday
Here is a list of 10 habits that you can start practicing every day:
- Start your day with a breakfast
- Prepare your healthy meals for the week
- Drink plenty of water
- Correct your posture
- Go offline
- Learn something new
- Stop smoking
- Practice exercise regularly
- Have a good night’s sleep
- Practice mindfulness
How do I start building healthy habits?
First, you need to have compelling and solid reasons as to why you want to form new healthy habits in your life.
Next, familiarize yourself with the activities you do regularly. Then, look at which activities you spend most of your time on.
Make sure your plans contain short, attainable goals and specific action steps.
Lastly, practice visualizing the long-term positive emotions, experiences, or rewards you can enjoy when you don’t succumb to your immediate unhealthy temptations.
How do I change my daily habits?
You can list down three new healthy habits that you want to start instilling in your life.
Write down the long-term advantages you get to enjoy by practicing these habits daily.
Also, consider listing the long-term consequences of not performing these habits daily.
Make a list of at least three short-term rewards you can treat yourself for sticking to your new habits.