20 Healthy Habits for a Better and Healthier Life

photo of bright healthy food and exercise equipment

It's never too late to start down the road of improving your lifestyle for the better. It can be a long journey and everyone's GPS takes them along a different route, but we're here to help you create healthy habits so you can enjoy the ride.

Develop Your Diet for Better Living

One of the first stops is looking at the inner workings of nutrition. According to the American Psychological Association, there are an increasing number of studies showing the link between food and mood. In addition to helping curb physical ailments like high blood pressure and heart disease, improving your diet can also help with mental health. Take a look at a few ideas to help you get started with healthy food habits!

  1. Wake up with Water - Start your day with a big glass of water. We wake up in a dehydrated state, so replenishing your hydration will help kick start your systems to begin the day. To keep the health benefits rolling, work toward drinking plenty of water each day.
  2. Power Up with Breakfast - Aim to eat high protein and high fiber breakfasts each morning to reduce brain fog and improve your heart health. Some go-to items for this are oatmeal, yogurt, fruit and whole grains.
  3. Prepare with Portioning - Set aside specific amounts of your food before you start eating to limit overindulging. Instead of sitting down with the box of crackers, put a serving size of the snack into a bowl and store the rest for next time.
  4. Make Your Meal Prep - Plan ahead to prevent busy days from derailing your healthy eating. At the start of each week, assign a day to plan and put together your meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!
  5. Pour Out the Soda - Start limiting your intake of soda, whether it is regular or diet. By removing this massive source of unhealthy sugar and chemicals, you can help yourself maintain weight loss, improve dental hygiene, strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
  6. The 80/20 Rule - Free up your diet restrictions by looking into the 80/20 rule. The outline is simple; 80% of your meals are chosen with healthy eating in mind, and the other 20% of meals are chosen for your pleasure. Remember, one meal slip-up won't ruin your work towards a healthier life, and this rule allows you the flexibility to treat yourself within limits.

Find Your Physical Health with Fitness

Maintaining consistent exercise is another key component to keep you going down the road to a better and healthier life. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone should get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, which may sound a little daunting. Start slow with the tips below, and you'll begin to experience benefits like thinking, feeling, and sleeping better.

  1. Daily Walks - Help your mental and physical health by taking a short walk each day. This can serve as a break for your mind and body after getting caught up in your day-to-day, and the physical exercise serves as a great stress reliever.
  2. Choose the Stairs - Engage in an easy way to get in some quick exercise and elevate your heart rate by taking the stairs when they are available. This exercise can be as simple as taking a quick trip up and down the staircase in your home to break the pattern of a sedentary lifestyle.
  3. Find a Partner - Keep yourself accountable with the help of a friend. Work towards your goals with someone who is on a similar personal journey. You can help to keep each other focused on the right path.
  1. Start with Steps - Create a daily step goal to keep yourself active throughout the day. An ambitious goal is 10,000 steps a day, but it is doable! An easy way to get started on this goal is by taking a 2-minute walk for every hour you are sitting throughout the day.
  2. Relax on Rest Days - Take an occasional break from exercising to make sure your body can rest and repair. Overworking your body can lead to injury down the road, so make sure to follow the steps for active recovery to prevent any mishaps.
  3. Consistency is Key - Remember to keep up the hard work despite any setbacks. You may get a physical or mental flat tire that stops you from reaching your goal in the short term, but there are always spares available to help you reach your goal in the long term.

Explore Ideas for Mental Wellness

Being in peak physical shape can provide numerous health benefits, but it is also important to fine-tune your habits for keeping a healthy mental state.

  1. Establish a Routine - Pick a routine for your day and stick to it to help adjust and sustain your healthy habits. For example, choose when you are going to wake up, work out, eat meals, and go to sleep; then apply it to each day. You'll have your habits ingrained into your routine in no time!
  2. Secure Sleep - This topic is usually the first to get pushed aside when our lives get busy, but getting enough sleep is important in almost all aspects of our lives. When a person does not get enough sleep, it puts them at risk for several disorders and diseases and deregulates body processes like energy levels, hunger signals, and mood. The National Institutes of Health recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night in order to curb sleep deprivation.
  3. Lean into Learning - Choose a new hobby, language, or skill to learn in your free time. It can be easy to focus all your energy on one activity such as work, but you can give your brain a break while also diversifying your knowledge by engaging in educating yourself.
  4. Neutralize the Negativity - There will be some occasional detours and construction along the road to build your healthy habits, but don't let negative self-talk bring you down. It is completely normal to doubt your progress in achieving a healthier life but turning those doubts into positivity and goals will only bring you closer to your destination.
  5. Journal your Thoughts - Look up a prompt and spend around 5-20 minutes thinking and responding in your journal. This can help you cope with depression, manage anxiety, stay present, and move on from any negative emotions.
  6. Tech-Free Time - Set a time in the afternoon or night when all electronics are powered off to help disconnect from any stressors from the day and improve sleep quality. This means no TV, phones or tablets are allowed. Reading, puzzles, and writing are all great alternatives during these times!
  7. Re-engage with Reading - Select the genre of your choosing and set a goal to read 20 pages of a book each day. Whether it is fiction or classics, reading helps keep your brain healthy by exploring new ideas and stories.
  8. Find your Support System - Taking on the challenge of improving your life can bring up a lot of emotions and feelings that may take a lot of energy to manage. Enlisting the help of a therapist, counselor or good friend is a great way to seek positive guidance to help you while you make changes to your life.
Everyone's bodies and lifestyles are different, so make sure to team up with your dietician and doctor to ensure you're taking the healthiest approach for your personal needs. Remember, take each habit one at a time, and make sure to reward yourself for the little wins!

Celine Ives is a native Charlottean who enjoys cuddling with her dog, cheering on her Carolina Tar Heels and reading a good book at the park.