If you spend any amount of time on health and wellbeing websites, chances are you’ve come across the term ‘healthy habits’ before. But what are healthy habits? And why are they important?
What are healthy habits?
As the name suggests, healthy habits are habits which keep you healthy or improve your health over time. They can include physical things, such as exercising regularly; or emotional things, such as keeping in touch with friends and family. The important thing is that they’re contributing positively to your health and wellbeing.
Some examples of healthy habits are:
- Eating a balanced diet.
- Getting enough sleep.
- Doing things which keep your mental health on the straight and narrow.
- Getting outside regularly.
- Practising safe sex.
- Cooking from scratch.
- Spending time with loved ones.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Exercising regularly.
- Getting medical checkups.
- Wearing sunscreen.
- Maintaining your boundaries.
What’s the big deal?
Apart from the obvious – that healthy habits keep you healthy – the important thing about healthy habits is the habitspart.
Anyone can go on a quick health kick for a few days before sinking right back into their old, unhealthy ways. The point of developing healthy habits is to weave those healthy changes into your lifestyle, so that they become an integral aspect of your day to day living.
By turning healthy behaviours into habits you can ensure that the benefits are real and long-lasting. What’s more, habit-formed behaviours get a lot easier over time. For example, someone who has formed healthy eating and exercise habits will find it easy to maintain a healthy weight and a decent level of fitness. Someone who goes on a crash diet, on the other hand, will find their efforts extremely difficult and their weight loss hard to sustain.
How can you build healthy habits?
Different methods work for different people, but here are a few broad rules of thumb to get you started:
- Keep things achievable. Making big, drastic changes all at once is setting yourself up for failure. Your new habits have to be achievable or you won’t stick to them. We suggest that you start small and build your efforts up gradually.
- Persevere. Failures every now and again are inevitable. When you drop the ball, it’s tempting to write off the whole endeavour and go on a binge. Don’t do this. When you fail, chalk it up to experience, forgive yourself, and keep on trying.
- Remind yourself why you’re doing this. It’s helpful to have a clear goal which inspires and motivates you. Without a goal or a reason for developing these habits, it will start to feel like a thankless task. Think of all the benefits of undertaking this process, and remind yourself of them whenever things seem too difficult.
- Be patient. Real, lasting, habit-forming change takes time. Be patient, stick with it, and don’t get frustrated if it takes longer than you think. The best changes take a long time to sink in.