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A Guide to Developing Healthy Habits In the New Year

Updated: Jan 15

Woman holding sign that reads "healthy habits"
Photo: Moe Magners

In our fast-paced world, our well-being often becomes a lower priority, however, establishing healthy habits is crucial for long-term physical and mental health.  But how do you start to cultivate healthy habits and live a lifestyle centered around wellness?


Start Small to Be Consistent


It’s important to make realistic, manageable changes to avoid feeling overwhelmed.  Maybe instead of committing to a full yoga practice every morning, you can start doing a 10-minute stretch when you wake up.  Small adjustments are helpful because it’s easier to be consistent when making smaller changes than drastic ones. 


Prioritize Sleep


Have you ever made healthy choices on very little sleep?  Probably not.  Adequate sleep is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.  Creating a bedtime routine and morning routine can help with establishing good sleep habits.  One of the keys to good sleep is ensuring your sleep environment is conducive to rest- no bright lights, blaring sounds, distractions, or work-related items should be in your bedroom. 


Mindful Nutrition


A balanced diet that’s rich in protein, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables is a great way to fuel your body.  Learn to listen to your body’s hunger cues and be mindful of portion sizes.  Another important tip: stay hydrated.  The body needs sufficient water to function appropriately.


Incorporate Physical Activity


Make physical activity a consistent part of your day.  Find an exercise you love, whether it’s yoga, running, dancing, walking- regular physical activity can help your energy levels, reduce stress, and help you function at your best.  If you’re just starting out, check in with your physician for a check-up and make sure you’re safe to begin exercising.  It’s okay to start out slowly and build up to a moderate amount of exercise each week.


Mindfulness and Stress Management


Stress can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health.  Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or breathing exercises can help reduce stress and bring some focus to our often-hectic lives.  Identify stressors and develop some coping mechanisms that can help relieve your stress.    


Social Connection


There has been a noticeable shift in many peoples’ socialization, especially in the years after COVID, but there are a lot of benefits to developing social connections, including mental health.  Connect with friends and family on a regular basis and foster a supportive social network.  If you’re feeling lonely, find out what’s happening in your community and join in.  There are often community groups dedicated to volunteering, gardening, dancing, cultural events, and more.


Limit Screen Time


Excessive screen time can negatively affect both physical and emotional well-being, especially excessive time spent on social media websites.  Set boundaries for screen time, especially before bedtime, as it could impact your sleep. 


Cultivate a Growth Mindset


Search out opportunities to develop, whether it’s personal or professional development.  Engage in activities that stimulate your mind, whether it’s reading, attending workshops or class, or finding new hobbies.


Developing healthy habits is a gradual process, but by prioritizing small, sustainable changes, you can build a foundation for lasting well-being.  Be patient with yourself as you go on this journey, and enjoy the transformation that a healthy lifestyle brings.


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