The way you treat yourself affects your health. Every day, we make decisions about mundane things: what to eat, do, see. Because of this, it may seem easy to replace bad habits with good ones. Unfortunately, it’s not.
These are behaviors we reluctantly try to change even when aware of how damaging they are. Sometimes, it’s the fear that prevents you from making better lifestyle choices. Sometimes, it’s the belief you are comfortable with the life you lead that you lack the enthusiasm to develop new habits. While you can’t wave a magic wand and wish for these changes, here are some simple strategies to turn your life around.
Make a list of bad habits
Lists can help you put things in perspective. You are surrounded by mountains of information all the time, causing overstimulation of the brain. By making a list, you organize your thoughts and stay mentally focused on the tasks.
Not all bad habits feel good, but you do them regardlessly out of stress, boredom, or defiance. Making a list will make you more aware of the things you need to change and encourage you to be proactive.
Be realistic about your goals
If you demand of yourself more than you can handle, you will probably fail in achieving your goals. This leads to disappointment that can make you falter or give up on developing new and better lifestyle choices.
Making a plan you can follow is the most important thing when trying to do something you know is hard. Create specific tasks with schedules and other details that will help you be adamant about accomplishing your goals. Once you figure it all out, hang that plan somewhere you can always see it to serve as a reminder.
Take one step at the time
Pushing yourself too hard to realize your goal can have an undesirable effect. Pay no attention to how others dealt with the same goal and create your own pacing. Take one step at a time, so you don’t overstress yourself and become frustrated with not making progress fast enough.
For example, when changing your diet, introduce healthier food in small portions and not as whole meals. This can help you accept new and different tastes more easily and prevent you from craving the food that’s bad for you.
Be honest with yourself
The only way you can change is by being honest with yourself. If you drink too much, smoke, or live on junk food, you won’t be able to change that unless you admit you have a problem. Being aware of your actions is the first step of changing your behavior.
If you can’t do this on your own, ask people you trust to tell you what they think are your bad habits. In case you are not comfortable with that, you can do some of the free personality tests online that will help you learn more about yourself.
Consult with professionals
Some new and better lifestyle choices are focused on your health, so it’s best to talk to professionals before starting. Your physician may order blood work and send you to other specialists, like dieticians and physiatrists.
For example, if you have diabetes, you can’t go on any diet but need to consult with a professional on what to eat to avoid health complications. Sometimes your weight may prevent you from performing certain exercises, so hiring a professional trainer can show you equally effective alternatives.
Deal with stress
Let’s be realistic — stress is not something you can get rid of completely. That doesn’t mean you have to put up being exposed to abnormal amounts of it. Identify the stressors and see what you can do to minimize their effect.
Yoga, meditation, decluttering, and nature are some of the most successful means to lower your stress levels. Organize “me-time” by relaxing in a hot bath, reading with your phone off, or getting a massage. In some cases, throwing plates as part of the so-called smash therapy can provide relief and clear your mind by eliminating frustration.
Keeping your body hydrated should not be neglected. This means that you shouldn’t wait for thirst to kick in to drink water. If you need help to remember, try some of the apps specifically designed to remind you to drink water throughout the day.
One of the main reasons people don’t drink recommended eight glasses of water is because it’s tasteless. You can remedy this by adding slices of fruits and veggies to your water, like lemons, orange, and cucumber. Also, eating watermelons, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, and leafy greens can raise your hydration levels since they contain a lot of water.
Have time for socializing
Sometimes people are indeed the source of stress and you need to spend time alone. However, people in your life can also be a source of empowerment to make difficult changes.
Socializing can boost your mood, improve your well-being, and chase away loneliness. In case you have toxic persons in your life, make it one of the goals to minimize encounters or stop socializing with them altogether.
Limit your time on social media
Social media is convenient to stay in touch with people all over the world, as well as to be up-to-date about events and job openings. But as you know, you can have too much of a good thing. The main issue with social media is that it can distort reality, making you see things that aren’t there.
For example, smiling people in pictures doesn’t mean they live better lives than you, and friends on social media may not be more than acquaintances. Not to mention that you may experience cyberbullying from total strangers, causing yourself emotional harm. If social media makes you depressed, lonely, or frustrated, start unfriending and blocking people, as well as limiting the time you spend there.
Adjust your eating habits
A healthy diet is not only about eating veggies and fruits, but also about getting the appropriate amount of calories. If you are unsure what to change and in what way, consult with a dietician who can create a personalized meal plan for you.
Paying attention to what you eat is not only about losing or managing weight but about staying healthy by eliminating trans fats and sugar from your diet. In case you are too busy to cook, replace a meal with a tasty smoothie or save time with a pressure cooker. This is also a great tactic how not skipping breakfast or having it while commuting to work.
Choose a physical activity
When you think about what kind of physical activity would suit you, consider your age, weight, agility, and health issues. For example, overweight and obese people should start with exercises that won’t put a strain on their knees and ankles. The elderly may feel more comfortable practicing tai chi, while swimming can do wonders for posture for those who sit too much.
Listen to your body and try several types of physical activity until you find the perfect one you won’t have the desire to quit. Start with something simple, like walking every day after dinner, and then progress to cycling or jogging. If you need a boost, pay for a gym membership and that money can serve as motivation not to miss your sessions.
Find the right supplements
Supplements offer an additional boost of nutrients that you can’t get through food in satisfying amounts. For example, if you are exercising, consider using supplements that can enhance your performance results, like creatine powder and whey protein. Those who are not exposed to the sun enough should take vitamin D supplements, important for a strong immune system, bones, and mood.
Your gender, age, and present health conditions may determine what supplements are appropriate for you. So, before you decide to use supplementation, talk to your physician to make sure you are taking the right ones.
Establish a support system
One of the biggest problems for people to make a change is the inability to do it alone. This is where creating a support system can help you to continue with improving your lifestyle. Asking a loved one to be your running partner or to go on the same diet as you may be a good thing for both of you.
Some activities are intended for more people to participate, like soul cycling, yoga in the park, and running groups. You can also find a reliable support system online, on message boards, groups, and apps especially if you are changing your diet or starting with physical activity.
Take up a hobby or two
Don’t be afraid to search for ways to express your talents or learn something new! A hobby can be a stress relief, improve social interactions, inspire personal growth, and other amazing things that can help you have a better lifestyle.
It’s never too late to take piano lessons, learn how to paint, or make jewelry. Even climbing mountains and rafting can turn into a hobby if you dedicate enough of your time and energy to it.
Create conditions to sleep well
Sleep is not something you should sacrifice since lack of it can cause all sorts of health problems. This is when the brain process new information, the body detoxifies itself, cells repair, and hormones are released.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have trouble falling asleep or suffer from insomnia, preventing them to have recommended 7–8 hours of sleep. To take care of this, don’t leave your phone by the bed, pull the drapes over the windows to block the light, and use a sound machine. Going to bed early and not watching TV before sleep is also efficient to get a good night’s sleep.
Don’t go into it blindly
Whatever you want to improve, always do the research as much as possible to know what to expect. Go to message boards, support groups, and other places where people talk about their experiences. Read articles from trusted sources supported by scientific data and expertise.
If you have any doubts, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification from your doctor, personal trainer, dietician, or any other professional whose services you use. Being well informed before you start with something new will increase the chances that you will stay on that path of adopting better habits.
Consider going to psychotherapy
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is a responsible way to deal with issues that make you neglect yourself. It can help with depression, anxiety, relationship problems, eating disorders, and anything else that prevents you to change your habits. If you think that psychotherapy may be a too strong approach, try counseling instead which is more focused on a specific issue.
Sometimes, you can’t find the coping mechanisms on your own because identifying the cause is possible only from an objective perspective. Moreover, through conversations with psychiatrists, psychologists, or other trained professionals you will get emotional support and find the strength to make better lifestyle choices.
Appreciate your efforts and achievements
Ask yourself what would make you enjoy changing your habits. For example, if you are trying to quit smoking, place the same amount of money you would spend for a pack of cigarettes in the piggy bank. That way you can reward yourself at the end of the month by using those saving to pamper yourself.
However, not everything is considered a good reward. After all, if you are on the diet and reached your weekly milestone, eating junk food is not a reward but a relapse. Think more in the line with booking a weekend getaway at the spa or buying a new pair of shoes you’ve been eying for a while.
The bottom line
A journey to redefining yourself is not without obstacles. To develop new and better lifestyle choices you need to be ready to compromise and let go of things you like. Still, the key is not to quit but to replace a bad habit with something positive. Without a doubt, you will find a thing or two among these ideas to lead a more quality and happy life.