It’s never the wrong time to start forming healthy habits. Establishing practices that are good for you can help you manage stress and improve your overall wellness and mood. Try incorporating some of these healthy daily habits into your routine and see what sticks.
Whether it’s for helping to keep your life organized with lists and reminders or chronicling reflections about your day, many people find writing beneficial to mental health.
“Journaling can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress [and] cope with depression,” according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by helping you prioritize problems, fears and concerns; tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them [and] providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors.”
All you need to start forming this healthy habit is a bit of time, a clean notebook and a writing utensil. Go for a quality journal to write in, like a Moleskine Classic Notebook or – if thoughts often come to you on nature walks or in the shower – a Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Notepad. A good pen, makes writing by hand feel even more cathartic.
Water helps your body function at its best, but many struggle to drink enough.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests a daily fluid intake (from water, other beverages and food) of 15 ½ cups for men and 11 ½ cups for women as a baseline, though this may need to be modified depending on activity level, environment and individual health needs.
To establish this healthy habit, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking a glass of water with each meal and between meals, before, during and after exercise, and when you feel thirsty.
Drink from a reusable water bottle with markers for easy measuring and tracking, like the Venture Pal. If you’re really serious about your water drinking goal, splurge on a smart water bottle that tracks your water intake and glows to remind you to stay hydrated.
To flavor your water, try adding mint, slices of cucumber, lemon or your favorite fruits like pineapple and strawberries. If you simply can’t stomach that much water in one day, consider supplementing with other healthy beverages, like a cup of tea.
“It’s a myth that caffeinated beverages or those containing alcohol are dehydrating because they make you urinate,” according to Harvard Health Publishing. “They do, but over the course of the day, the water from these beverages still leads to a net positive contribution to total fluid consumption.”
Pro tip: You can also get water from certain foods, like salads and fruit.
Doing something you’re good at or enjoy is one of many routes to happiness. Hobbies like baking, crafting, gardening, tending to a collection and listening to music are all great ways to boost your mood.
Another way to stay positive is to focus on the good things in your life. Similar to the journaling method mentioned above, you can start an intentional gratitude journal. Listing the circumstances, people and things you’re thankful for can help you have a more optimistic attitude.
Sometimes we need an emotional pick-me-up. One way to feel better is with a book of affirmations. Some popular ones include “The Gratitude Daily Journal,” “Power Thoughts: 365 Daily Affirmations” and – if you’re struggling with feelings of anxiety or depression – “You’re Strong, Smart and You Got This“
An additional option is doing good deeds. Volunteering your time, donating to a good cause or simply doing something nice for someone else, can help improve your mood. Here’s a list of good deeds you can do from home.
For more ideas to amp up your positivity, check out these small ways to be happier.
Whether it’s for a set period every day or a block of time once a week, taking a break from screens and social media is a good habit to get into.
Take some time to unplug, defrag and do essentially any other beneficial activity. This is a good opportunity to nap, read, meditate, play a game or spend time with a pet.
Take time for a bit of self-care or head outside for some fresh air. You can do an outdoor workout or go on a walk, hike or bike ride. If you’re new to hiking or biking, check out this list of hiking essentials for beginners and this guide on how to find the right type of bike for you. Less active tasks, like gardening or birdwatching are good, too.
One way to eat better is to meal plan. Meal planning saves time and money, and making food at home is almost always healthier than eating out because can control the amount of salt, fat, etc. in your meals.
Get a meal planning calendar or two-column meal planner and grocery checklist, or try a meal planning app, like Paprika, PlateJoy, MealBoard, Mealime, MealPrepPro or Yummly.
Start by incorporating more fruits and vegetables – a mix of fresh and frozen to save money – into your diet. Try making more vegetarian meals, cutting back on dairy and avoiding processed foods.
It’s important to listen to your body; it may need more fuel throughout the day. Snacking between meals is okay when it’s done right. When you’re feeling peckish during the day, reach for healthy snacks.
The goal is to get in a little bit of activity every day. Try scheduling time to exercise when your schedule allows. Start a morning stretch routine or try a fitness routine you’ll actually enjoy, like yoga, or easy indoor or outdoor workouts.
Otherwise, attempt small bursts of activity throughout the day. Fit in a little bit of exercise anywhere you can, like loosening up with Pilates at your work desk, taking a walk on your lunch break or these every day activities that burn the most calories.
You can use health apps and wearable fitness trackers to make sure you’re meeting your goals.
Get More Sleep
One third of American adults are sleep deprived, according to the Sleep Foundation.
Occasionally missing out on sleep can negatively affect your mood and memory, while chronic sleep deprivation can have long-term effects on your overall health. Since there really isn’t a way to “catch up” on lost sleep, it’s best to get quality sleep when you can.
Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally do. Be mindful of what you eat and drink before heading to bed, avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy foods. Limit naps to 30 minutes or less – and don’t take them too late in the day. Avoid using electronics at least one hour before bed, as the blue light they emit could keep your mind active. Instead, try reading, writing in your journal or simply lying in the dark.
Which healthy lifestyle habit is part of to your daily routine? Tell us in the comments.