Poor health and low energy levels can negatively impact every part of your life. Your creative spark can be destroyed, leaving you with zero inspiration and ideas. Work would become tedious and hard going, and your social life would become a shadow of what it used to be.Poor health and low energy levels can negatively impact every part of your life. Your creative spark can be destroyed, leaving you with zero inspiration and ideas. Work would become tedious and hard going, and your social life would become a shadow of what it used to be.
Life for you would no longer be fun. It’s a sorry state of affairs.
What you need to transform your life is a healthier lifestyle. One that will bring back your natural energy and zest for life.
By learning the best healthy habits to take and following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to get back to this optimum state.
What makes a healthy habit?
You may be surprised to learn that more than 40 percent of the actions you perform every day aren’t actually decided by you. They’re actually habits. Habits dictate how we live, how we perform, and the results we achieve in life. This is why it is so important to have strong, positive habits.
In case you’re wondering what habits consist of, think of them this way: something that you regularly do without having to consciously think about.
According to Medical Dictionary, a healthy habit is
“a behavior that is beneficial to one’s physical or mental health, often linked to a high level of discipline and self-control.”
Positive habits are the basis of your success, while healthy habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good. Good habits include things like regular exercise, a balanced diet, punctuality, keeping promises, etc.1
Positive habits make it possible for us to do things without spending exorbitant mental effort. For instance, instead of thinking how to walk down the stairs in a morning, this is taken care of by your subconscious mind which has learned the habit of walking safely down stairs. You don’t need to think about moving your legs, and controlling your balance, etc.
74 healthy habits to improve your overall well-being
Now you understand what habits are, and the benefits positive habits offer, let’s take a look now at 74 healthy habits you should adopt to transform your life. These habits are broken into three sections:
- Habits to build a healthy body
- Habits for a healthy mind
- Habits for healthy relationships
Habits to build a healthy body
A healthy body is the fundamentals to achieve anything you want. While it’s so important to maintain a fit and healthy body, many people are tempted to eat unhealthy food, skip exercises and lead an unhealthy lifestyle.
Here’re 20 healthy habits you should start to take for a fitter body:
1. Make sure you chew your food well
Most people gobble down their food, and don’t take the time to chew or enjoy it properly. If you’re one of these people, try slowing down your eating by chewing your food longer than you would normally do. You’ll enjoy the taste of your food more, and you’re likely to eat less too.
2. Stock up on healthy food
At home you snack on what’s in your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. If all you have in there is ultra-processed foods like fries, chocolate and ice cream, then you’ll find yourself snacking on them (not a good idea). To break this habit, make sure you have loads of healthy foods in your home like dried fruits, seeds and nuts to help satisfy your hunger cravings.
3. Aim to do 10,000 steps a day
Sounds like a lot? Well, it’s actually the minimum amount recommend by fitness experts. It’s not too difficult to reach 10,000 steps in a day. Simply walk in the park in the morning and evening, and take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
4. Take a walk at lunchtime
Lunchtimes don’t need to be just for eating. You can use the time to get some valuable air, light and exercise. I usually walk for half of my lunch break – the other half I leave for eating.
5. Freeze your fruits and veggies
This is a great thing to do, as freezing these foods means they’ll last until you’re ready to eat them. And of course you can freeze them when they’re at their peak, so they’ll taste great when defrosted and/or cooked. This technique is also a superb way to enjoy healthy fruits and veggies outside of their normal seasonal availability.
6. Focus on colors, not calories
Too many people put their health and diet focus on how many calories they are consuming every day. But a healthy diet is not just about calories.
For example, there is a big difference between eating a handful of raw nuts and the same calorie amount of cake. Sure, the latter may taste better to you – but the nuts will always be the healthier choice.
7. Add an extra serving of greens to your plate
One simple way to boost your intake of healthy foods is to add an extra serving of greens to each of your meals. If you normally eat burger and fries (not recommended!), start adding a portion of peas or a green salad to your plate. Over time, you can start increasing the greens – and reducing the junk food.
8. Be active outside the gym
I’m sure you’ve spotted people at work who go to the gym most morning. They certainly know how to start their day well, but watch their habits after that. Often they sit down all day at their desk, and no doubt go home and chill out in front of the TV.
While going to the gym is commendable, don’t make it your be all and end all. Get out in the fresh air and natural light and move your body the way nature intended – by walking and running.
9. Eat carbs every day
From time to time, carbs go out of fashion. We’re warned their bad for us, and we should avoid them. However, no-carb and low-carb diets usually end up as fads. That’s because carbs are actually are an excellent source of energy for our bodies.
Of course, our ancestors lived and thrived on carb-heavy diets for thousands of years. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy carbs, such as: wholemeal breads, oatmeal and sweet potatoes:
10. Choose healthy fats
Not all fats are the same. Some are good for us, some are not. Which are the healthy fats? If you stick to cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and avocados, you’ll be getting the essential nutrients you need – in the healthiest forms available.
11. Don’t eat until you’re full
A healthy person’s stomach is the size of a fist, while an unhealthy person’s stomach can be the size of a football. It’s a shocking fact. The cause of the grotesque stomach expansion is overeating. When this is done regularly, the stomach starts to stretch. Consequently, the person needs to eat more and more to maintain that full, satisfied feeling.
How to avoid this? Always eat a little less than you think you need or would like. This will keep your stomach at its natural size – and your body at a healthy weight too.
12. Avoid over exercising
People who over exercise tend to age quicker than they should.2 Most things in life come down to balance, and exercise is no exception. Over exercising for months and years will deplete your body of its vital energy – leaving you drained and feeling out-of-sync.
13. Swap soft drinks for water
Soft drinks are typically full of sugar (or artificial sweeteners), coloring and other nasties! They may taste good, but they’ll leave you feeling bad. Instead, ditch the soft drinks and switch to drinking mineral water or filtered tap water. Your body will thank you.
14. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual
In today’s age of Netflix and YouTube, it’s all too easy to find yourself watching just one more video. Pre-internet, you’d have probably gone to bed two or three hours earlier than you currently do. My suggestion? You have an alarm to wake you up in the morning. How about setting an alarm to notify you when it’s time to turn off the TV and get yourself to bed.
Sleep is a powerful restorative – so make you’re getting an adequate amount of it.
15. Stop weighing yourself
This ties in with my earlier comments about calories (see No. 6). Some people – perhaps including yourself – are fixated on their weight. They weigh themselves every morning and every night. If they lose weight, they’re ecstatic. But if they gain weight, they can quickly sink into depression.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, you certainly should be aiming to have a healthy weight. However, this will be a natural consequence of eating healthily and exercising regularly.
16. Cut down on your meat intake
Have you heard of meat-free Mondays? This is exactly as it sounds, no meat eaten on every Monday. If you’re a big meat eater, then meat-free Mondays are a great way to immediately reduce your meat intake. And it will also introduce you to the delicious flavors available in vegetarian and vegan meals.
17. Choose enjoyable exercise
You might be putting off exercising as you don’t like going to the gym or running in the cold weather. Instead, why not choose fun exercises like dancing, yoga or a team sport? When exercise is fun, you’ll have much more motivation to do it regularly.
18. Halve your sugar intake
We all know that sugar is bad for us, but yet, most of us still consume masses of it every single day. The problem of course, is that sugar tastes great. So good, in fact, that we literally become addicted to it.
Now, if I told you to go ‘cold turkey’ and cut out sugar completely from your diet tomorrow – you almost certainly wouldn’t be able to do it. That’s why I recommend a reasonable and attainable goal of halving your sugar intake. You can do this through simple steps like: reducing or cutting out sugar in tea or coffee, stopping adding sugar to your cereals, and choosing healthier snacks (see No. 2).
19. Buy a reusable water bottle and keep it on your desk
I used to come into the office and drink tea or coffee all day. I never thought about drinking water. Then I started to notice that some people brought in large, reusable water bottles that they kept sipping from throughout the working day. I decided to give this a go, and I was amazed by how easy it was to drink in excess of 500ml of water every day. And the best thing? I noticed that I felt more hydrated, more focused – and definitely healthier overall. Try it for yourself, and I’m sure, like me, you’ll never come to work without your water bottle.
20. Turn off technology from time to time
Technology is a great thing. It enables me to type these words – and for you to read them. But let’s be honest, it’s all too easy to become addicted to our TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The majority of people are staring at one of these devices for most of their morning, afternoon, evening and beyond. It’s a non-stop world of emails, SMS messages, news feeds, social media updates, etc.
My advice? Make sure you step out of this cycle of distraction by having regular breaks from your devices. For example, why not switch off all of your devices when you’re eating with your friends and family. Make conversation be your focus, instead of being absorbed by online stuff.
Habits for a healthy mind
Forming healthy habits for our mind is essential for our happiness and wellbeing. Here are 24 positive habits you can incorporate into your daily life to increase your mental wellbeing:
21. Spend time in nature
Being outside has found to have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing mainly due to exposure to sunshine increasing your serotonin levels. Research has also found that spending even a short amount of time around nature boosts your mood. Imagine spending a day in a place like this:
22. Have something to look forward to
Being in a state of positive anticipation and expectancy can increase your happiness level according to study published in the Official Journal of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies.3 Planning something you enjoy and take comfort in, whether it’s a trip, a planned run, meeting friends or curling up with that book you’ve always wanted to read can keep you from dwelling on any negatives.
Meditation is probably the most talked about concept in the happiness camps and it has good reasons to be synonymous with good mental health. Studies have shown regular meditation practices reduce stress, anxiety and health issues. The main reason is it can help reduce overthinking and create a more mindful mindset. It can come in the form of just sitting quietly, yoga, prayer or purposeful breathing.
24. Move your body
Endorphins are the chemicals in the brain that basically reduce the perception of pain. When you move your bodies, these are released and essentially tell your brain that all is well. Even if it’s just getting up from your chair, dancing around when doing the housework or taking up a regular exercise routine, these actions can increase the feel-good chemicals and elevate your mood.
25. Learn something new
People who continue to learn into adulthood have greater overall wellbeing. This could be because the brain is constantly being refreshed and rewired but also the sense of achievement, optimism and distraction it creates. In other words, it gives you purpose and focus increasing the ability to cope with stress. So learn a new language, take up painting or enrol in a course you’ve always fancied doing to create more mental wellbeing.
26. Do something nice for someone
Kindness may be seen as just good manners but being genuinely kind towards others increases your own happiness as well as theirs. Positive social interactions, no matter how small they may seem, boosts your feel-good vibrations. Giving compliments with pure intentions, holding a door open or offering to pay for a stranger’s coffee will keep you feeling good for the rest of the day. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll keep your positive mindset topped up as well as creating happiness for someone else.
27. Re-evaluate toxic relationships
Sometimes people’s mental wellbeing declines because they get used to being around people who bring them down. This can damage their self-esteem and self-worth but they often don’t associate this with others. You are the sum total of the five people we’re around the most. Ask yourself are these five people supportive, kind and fun to be around? If not, it may be time to rethink your relationships.
28. Detox digitally
The dangers of too much social media is commonly said. The comparison game can cause you to feel deflated and like failures if we’re not living how others are currently living. This in itself is reason to have a period of detox from your phone or computer. The digital world, as much as it enhances our lives, can take away our present moments and allows us to miss what’s really going on around us. Detoxing will give you that sense of freedom of time to do other things that will boost your mental health.
29. Sleep more
Sleep often gets ignored when we’re living busy lives but that’s no excuse. Getting adequate sleep is paramount to an optimum healthy mind. Sleep deprivation causes mood swings, irritability, health issues and all-round disfunction that affects how we think and causes us to react negatively to things happening in our daily lives. More sleep equates to a sense of peace and motivation through your day instead of stress and anxiety.
30. Do things by yourself
Low self-worth or self-esteem can cause people to believe that they can’t do things by themselves. The need to always have someone to do things with can create a sense of neediness and lack of self-love. Going off and doing things by yourself builds confidence and a sense of freedom.
Don’t be afraid to be alone and make time for yourself; it’s a wonderful way to really reflect on yourself and have a breather away from others.
31. Express gratitude
Gratitude has been found to increase happiness and reduce stress creating a more positive mindset. People often get caught up on what didn’t go well in their day even if the majority of what happened was positive. A good habit to start is to think through your day and note everything that was great – from the straight-forward commute to work, a smile from a stranger, the delicious food you had for lunch or a text from your friend.
32. Sit and stand up straight
Body language is tightly connected to our mindset. When you slouch, it subconsciously creates the overall feeling of hostility, sluggishness, and negativity. When we sit or stand up straight it creates the feeling of power and confidence.
33. Find something to laugh about
Laughter is powerful as it reduces stress levels, improves mood and even short-term memory. Laughing together with someone is probably the best kind of laughter but just watching a funny TV show or even laughing by yourself can do the trick.
34. Write things down
Writing things down is very powerful because in the act of writing, the brain processes what’s being written down more slowly and so it becomes a kind of therapy. It can help you process emotions and identify difficult areas or limiting beliefs that continuous overthinking makes worse. Writing down goals and dreams can bring about a positive boost and making lists of past achievements can help show you successes in your life.
35. Spend time with your pet
Any loving animal can increase your feelings of positivity in small and meaningful ways. They decrease loneliness, get you active, create loving bonds, keep you present in the moment and give you purpose.
36. Change your routine
While routine can keep us comfortable, it also creates a sense of mundane life and can result in depression. Making just small changes in your routine can trick the brain into thinking you’re doing something completely different. It could be taking a different route to work, walking instead of taking the bus, going somewhere different for lunch or getting up slightly earlier in the morning. Changing things up creates variety and opens you up to different experiences and opportunities.
37. Explore your city or town
Being a tourist in your own town or city is not something people tend to consider. Pretend you’re visiting for the first time – what neighbourhoods would you visit? Where would you eat? Doing this can help you appreciate where you live and gain a different perspective to a familiar place which helps open up the mind.
38. Practice forgiveness
Forgiveness can be a hard concept for many. But a lot of our angst is caused by our inability to let things go and move on. This doesn’t mean condoning what someone has done but just dropping the negativity around it and moving forward. Studies have shown that forgiveness protects against stress and forgiving yourself is important too in order to release any baggage and self-hate and create a happy life.
39. Connect with someone
As social beings, we thrive on connection. When you’re feeling depressed, the last thing you want to do is talk or reach out to others. Keep in mind that talking to people, even just short conversations with friends or in support groups, can repair your sense of disconnection immensely. Relationships with others builds a sense of belonging and self-worth so make time to connect with someone.
40. Spend a day being mindful
This is a great way to examine how you move through your day. How does your breakfast taste? How do your legs feel when you’re walking? Where did the ingredients for your lunch come from? What emotions are you feeling in each moment?
Don’t judge yourself but just be in each moment. Bringing your mind to the present moment can help reduce depression in the process.
41. Consider a more positive perspective
A negative mindset creates a negative life. If you’re in this category of seeing the glass as always being half empty maybe question why you think this way. It could simply stem from beliefs you’ve picked up but understand there is always a choice in how you see things.
Choose to consider a different, more positive perspective next time. Doing this regularly will slowly help change the way you look at the world around you.
42. Stop taking photos of everything
While it’s great to take photos for keepsakes, spending too much time taking the photo rather than enjoying the moment can decrease our happiness. Psychologist Maryanne Garry of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zeal has found taking endless photos “manipulates both our memories and subjective interpretations of lived experiences,”4 meaning we end up remembering less and don’t fully appreciate the moment.
43. Smile (even if it’s fake)
Genuine smiles portray our inner happy feelings but research has found even fake smiling tricks the brain into thinking we’re happy.5 So even if you’re in a quiet room by yourself, smile and you’ll notice overtime, it creates a sense of mental wellbeing.
44. Do something that’s out of your comfort zone
One of the main reasons people can become depressed is their need to stay comfortable. Blame this on the brain; it’s doing all it can to stop you from doing something fearful because it’s a survival mechanism – if you’re comfortable then you’re safe.
Breaking out of comfort zones is never as scary as your brain imagines it to be and it creates confidence, wellbeing and opens up new and exciting possibilities.6 The result? Better mental health.
Habits for healthy relationships
Being connected to others is crucial for our happiness.7 Keeping strong connections with your family, friends, and your significant other can radically reshape how you view the world.
These are the top 30 healthy habits that can strengthen your bonds with the people who matter most in your life:
45. Respect your loved ones
The foundation of any good relationship is the level of respect within it. Being honest, avoiding gossip, and valuing your loved ones for the unique individuals they are sets the tone for all your interactions.
46. Thank them
Showing gratitude can be as simple as a verbal “thank you” or a short note, but the effects are far-reaching. Whether your partner just did a load of dishes or your friend swooped in at the eleventh hour to save the day, don’t miss the chance to say thanks.
47. Express yourself
If you really love someone, don’t be afraid to let them know. Say, “I love you,” often, and when you say it, mean it. Tell your significant other, friends, and family how much you care about them. Be generous with your affection.
48. Take a walk
Taking a stroll through the neighborhood is a great way to reconnect with your friend or partner. These walks are a great chance to get some fresh air and catch up on life without having to spend an arm and a leg.
49. Make each other laugh
Humor is a powerful way to bond with one another. Never miss a chance to make your loved ones laugh. Be a goofball, watch a comedy, and don’t be afraid to crack a joke at your own expense occasionally.
50. Set goals together
This habit is especially important for romantic relationships, in which you’re operating as a team. When you don’t set goals together, you risk sabotaging one another. Uniting to overcome a challenge is a powerful way to bond.
51. Take up a new hobby
Nothing kills friendships and romances faster than boredom. Don’t let things stagnate. Pick up a new hobby that you’re both interested in every now and then. Challenge one another to perfect your skills, and reap the benefits of growing together.
52. Do something nice “just because”
A great surprise requires thoughtfulness. It can be as simple as showing up with a cup of coffee or picking up your partner’s favorite treat on your way home. Send your mother a bouquet of flowers at random, or offer to help your friend with a project. You’ll make their day and show them how much you care.
53. Relax together
It’s not necessary to turn every moment together into an elaborate outing. Friendships and romantic relationships with staying power are those which can thrive in everyday situations. Learn to love watching TV together, going for walks, or sharing simple meals.
54. Take time for yourselves
Even the closest couples and friends need time to explore their individual interests. You don’t have to like the same things to get along. Your individuality is likely part of what drew you to one another. Make sure that you and your loved ones get time to nourish their talents and interests.
55. Reconnect on a regular basis
Texting and calling 24/7 isn’t a healthy habit, but touching base is great for a romantic relationship. For friends and family, it isn’t necessary to send a message every day, but connecting periodically gives you a chance to share your lives.
56. Do chores together
For couples, working in the house together prevents one party from feeling resentful toward the other. A 2007 study found that 62% of couples believe that sharing chores leads to a successful partnership.
57. Take time to snuggle
Physical contact influences how you feel about your significant other. The act of cuddling causes your bodies to release oxytocin, a hormone responsible for bonding. Hugging also causes the release of oxytocin, so this healthy habit applies to non-romantic relationships as well.
58. Tell them what you love about them
Saying, “I love you,” is great, but sometimes it’s nice to back the sentiment up with some examples. Let your friends and partner know what specific attributes you love about them. This confidence boost helps them weather whatever storms come their way.
59. Pay attention
Asking thoughtful questions and responding may seem like common sense, but many friend, family, and love relationships lack attentiveness. Listen deeply. Make eye contact. When a loved one talks to you, they should feel that they have your undivided attention.
60. Figure out their love language (and speak it)
The 5 Love Languages: Secrets to Love that Last, tells us that there are five main ways that people give and receive love. Knowing your significant other’s love language helps you learn the best ways to show your love based on their needs. It’s worth noting that the love languages are not limited to romantic relationships.
61. Ask about their day
This is a great way to start any conversation, whether your chatting with your dad or talking to your best friend. You’ll get a ton of information that can help you be present for them, and you’ll show that you’re genuinely interested in their life by asking this simple question.
62. Be honest
Honesty is critical for any relationship. When you care about someone long, you must be able to tell them the truth. They’re counting on you to be someone they can trust. Besides, it’s kinder than lying, and you never have to worry about them finding out that you fibbed.
63. Be their cheerleader
We all encounter challenges, but having someone who can cheer you on your worst day is a real gift. Be the person who can give them the encouragement they need to face whatever is in front of them. Sometimes your loved ones just need to know that you believe in them.
64. Unplug to reconnect
You can’t have quality time if you’ve got your heads buried in your phones, video games, or laptops. You can certainly enjoy those things with one another, but commit to spending some time together screen-free as well. If you’re out to lunch, make a no-screen policy so that you can actively listen to one another.
65. Show that you’re loyal
Fidelity is a no-brainer in a romantic relationship. Fidelity isn’t the only way to show loyalty, though. In all your relationships, be sure to shut down gossip and stand up for loved ones even if they can’t stand up for themselves.
66. Be the person they can count on
Your partner and friends should know that whether they had a bad day at work, or they’re sick, you are always ready to jump in and help. When things are going poorly for your family, your parents and siblings, know they can turn to you. You’re there on time every time they need you to be, and you mean what you say.
67. Pull your weight
It’s unfair to expect one partner or friend to shoulder the burden for everything. You don’t have to split every responsibility down the middle, but you do need to reach an agreement so that neither of you carry the load alone.8 This applies to things like household chores, but it also relates to things like deciding where to eat or choosing an outing.
68. Make time for them
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once said:
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
If you want your relationships to last, you have to make them a priority. Schedule “appointments” with loved ones if you have trouble making the time to connect with them.
69. Love without judgement
Unless their behavior is a deal breaker, re-frame how you think about the other person’s flaws. To have real love, you have to love the real person. To see who someone truly is, they have to feel safe enough to show you without feeling judged. Your family, friends, and significant other should know that you love them, warts and all.
70. Forgive their mistakes
You aren’t perfect, and neither are your friends, your partner, or your family. When someone you love messes up, put yourself in their shoes. If it’s not worth ending the relationship over the mistake, forgive the person.
71. Be vulnerable and accept vulnerability
Being vulnerable can require practice in friendships and romantic relationships. With friends, this is your chance to show them who you are, and it gives them permission to be more open with you. With your partner, vulnerability with one another builds trust.
72. Start the day with them
For couples, beginning each day with your partner is a show of solidarity. Even if you work opposite schedules, you can find ways to share the beginning of a new day together. Write a note or spend a few minutes in the morning seeing them off.
73. Call it a day together
You don’t necessarily need to be on the same sleep schedule as your partner, but winding down together is a healthy habit. This act builds trust, and it gives you one more chance to reflect on the day.
74. Make decisions as a team
Independence is great, but when a decision you need to make will have a serious effect on your family, friends, or partner, it’s best to include them in the process. Remember that you’re in it together, and take time to establish how your team will communicate about major life decisions.
Taking up the healthy habits
To take up these healthy habits, pick one from the list and focus on that first. Check out our step-by-step guide on How to Build Good Habits and start leading a healthy lifestyle.
When you put in the time to develop these 74 healthy habits, the effort that you put into your body, mind and relationships will come back to you many times over.