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5 Tips to Form Healthy Habits by Katie Moracco

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

With the new year in full swing, I wanted to remind you to be mindful of your mental and physical health. The tips below provide helpful information for building healthy habits that suit our varied lifestyles.

1. Decide what "healthy" means to you.

Healthy has a different meaning for each of us. A genuinely healthy habit should boost your mood, your energy levels, and your desire to embrace living your BEST life. There should be joy attached — not feelings of responsibility, dread, or anxiety. Discussing what healthy means for you with your doctor is also highly encouraged.

2. Find your purpose.

Like deciding what healthy means to you, it's also important to know why you want to create a new habit.

Instead of setting immediate goals, think of long-term, sustainable inspiration. For example, instead of I want to lose 15 pounds in six months, consider; I want to lose weight so I will live longer and have more time with my family, I want to be more energetic, or I want to be able to run a marathon without my knees hurting.

3. Start with small, simple habits.

Forming habits doesn't have to be overwhelming. But when you wake up and decide to overhaul your whole life, it can be. Instead of taking on everything at once, start with a couple of simple habits. I recommend that you set a time and a place to consistently engage in those new habits.

Rather than committing to walking 6 miles every day, try this: After breakfast, I will take a five-minute walk around the neighborhood. When you are consistently taking a five-minute walk, you can increase the amount of time you spend walking or keep it the same if it makes you feel good.

4. Try to focus on the "soft" things.

Many habits we think about as healthy, like eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly, can be hard. When feeling unmotivated, try focusing on the "soft" things, like gratitude, helping others, and social connection.

While these may not be what you initially had in mind for healthy goals, they can improve your mood and lead to a longer, healthier life. When you begin to feel healthier and happier, it may encourage you to engage in other healthy habits in other aspects of your life.

5. Be patient and show yourself compassion.

Most people have heard that forming and cementing a habit takes 21 days, and when people don't achieve that, they can feel discouraged. Studies are beginning to show that it can take up to 10 weeks of repetitive behavior for a habit to stick — so be patient.

Along with patience, you also need to maintain compassion for yourself. When developing a new habit, the chance of being successful the first time is rare. Think about it: when you first learned to walk, you stumbled plenty of times.

If a new habit doesn't stick the first time, the second time, or even the third, try not to internalize those unsuccessful attempts. Failing in an action doesn't make you a failure as a person.

Bottom line.

Forming healthy habits starts with deciding what healthy means to you, then finding your purpose. Sticking to habits requires realistic expectations, consistency, patience, and compassion. At the end of the day, obsessing over something will not help you achieve a longer, healthier life, starting small, being patient with yourself, and showing yourself compassion will.


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