Easing Into a Healthier Lifestyle
Adapting to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. But if you take baby steps–slowly changing old habits while having patience with yourself–you will establish healthy habits that stick.
If you’re like most people, you expect too much from yourself. You want to start running several miles right away. Or maybe you try to cut all junk foods out of your diet at once. Slip up once, and discouragement squashes your dreams like a two-ton bulldozer.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. An all-or-nothing perspective isn’t necessary, and it can even work against you. Humans are creatures of habit. A healthy routine requires time and nurturing to take root.
So with these points in mind, several tips can help ease you into a healthy lifestyle, slow and steady.
Start With a Short Stroll
Developing a habit of daily physical activity takes time. If you’ve grown accustomed to sitting in front of the TV every night after dinner, chances are you’re not going to be gung-ho about lacing up a pair of running shoes and trotting down the road.
Just remember, becoming an instant long-distance runner isn’t your goal. Your purpose is to develop better health habits, so cultivate a routine of daily physical activity by setting simpler goals. It’s easy to get out the door to take a 10-minute walk around the block. Forcing a mile or two run isn’t nearly as simple. And even a short walk is good for your health!
Set short-term exercise goals you can stick with. Once you’re strolling along the sidewalk, chances are you’ll want to walk a little bit farther. As this daily activity continues, regular walks will become second nature. Eventually, it will be hard to imagine getting through the day without a walk.
Overcome One Bad Habit
Have you tried cutting out all sugary foods, only to fall into a pit of depression and cravings that ruined your ability to focus on anything else? What usually follows is a relapse into a sugar habit that only gets worse.
Avoid the misery. Target one habit at a time. Reduce the amount of sugar you put in your coffee until you don’t even miss it. Then replace sodas or energy drinks with sparkling water or herbal tea. Take it one step at a time and you’ll enjoy progress without making overwhelming changes. Continue this pattern by knocking unhealthy foods out of your diet one at a time.
Victory over one habitual craving will give you the confidence to defeat another. Mark your calendar or journal, keeping track of what you give up and what you will conquer next.
Slow Down the Stress
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, most people automatically think of diet and exercise. Few realize that stress management is vital for health and wellness. Elevated stress hormones boost body fat and increase your risk of disease.
You’re never going to remove all stress from your life, but you need to give your body a chance to recover from stress. This might mean taking time to listen to calming music, read a book, or take a warm bath.
Science continues to prove the benefits of a daily meditation practice. This doesn’t mean you need to sit with an empty mind for hours at a time. Simply set aside several minutes to concentrate on your breath. Allow thoughts to come and go, but always go back to your breath. This simple activity provides health benefits for both your body and brain.
Make Time For Yourself
Write notes, mark your calendar, or set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to take a moment to relax and bring yourself back into balance. It won’t be long before you notice changes in your body and mind. Stress management will soon become an established healthy habit.
If you’ve struggled in your quest to create good health habits, you’re not alone. Developing any sort of new habit is a challenge. The key is to be patient with yourself, taking it slowly as a new healthy lifestyle emerges. Improvements in your health and well-being will continue to provide encouragement as a wholesome diet, regular exercise, and stress management become a way of life and not a constant battle.