How to live a healthy lifestyle: Helpful tips

With the year already in full swing, many individuals have made New Year’s resolutions to live healthier lives and to take steps to improve their overall well-being and happiness. That said, with all the noise around self-improvement, it can be hard to know where to start, or what practices will actually make your life feel happier and healthier.

It’s important to take care of your whole self, and with that, good mental health is an integral part of living a healthy and fulfilling life. Here are some practices you can implement to help you feel fulfilled, healthy, and content in your life.

What Defines a Healthy Lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle is one in which a person chooses habits that support their physical, emotional, and relational well-being. This means that they choose to eat foods that nurture their bodies, take care of their physical health (i.e. taking medication, going to their doctors’ appointments, going to the gym, taking a walk/run), and make time for the social connections that are important to them (hanging out with friends and family, going to groups to socialize, and potentially going on dates). 

What Is the “Number 1” Thing You Can Do to Stay Healthy?

The number one thing you can do to stay healthy seems to vary depending on whom you ask. Some people might say to make sure you get some exercise in, while others might tell you to eat a healthy diet with the nutrients you need or to drink enough water. 

Mental health is also an important facet of staying healthy. However, the most important thing to consider is which of these will benefit you the most. Whether some or all of these strategies work for you, focus on what improvements and changes make you feel happy and healthy.

Why Does Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle Matter?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle matters because it helps individuals feel in control of their lives while also giving them physical and mental resilience and strength. It can also help them cultivate the social supports needed to be flexible when individuals face challenges. 

It helps people feel balanced, which allows them to be productive. This is not “productive” in a corporate, academic, or working sense, but more in the sense of contributing to family/society in a positive way. It can be anything from taking care of a family member, engaging in advocacy for a cause that’s important to you, volunteering, or simply doing something to make those around you happy. A healthy lifestyle matters so that we can keep doing what we enjoy and avoid feeling stuck with our challenges.

How Do I Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle?

The first step in improving or cultivating a healthy lifestyle is, predictably, deciding what part of our lives should be improved in order to reach this goal.

The next step in starting a healthy lifestyle is to identify what change we want to see in this area and come up with a small first step we know we can maintain. It is important to remember that while habits can change overnight, maintaining them can take a lot of willpower and momentum. Thus, it tends to be better for us to make those little steps and generate some momentum with that success to build upon future steps. 

For example, if one of your goals is to improve your physical health, the first step might be scheduling 10-15 minutes of walking each day. The next step, after we’ve maintained that for a week or two, might be increasing the time we do it or adding in a serving of fruit with our breakfast. 

If you want to work on improving your mood so you feel happier, the first step would be to identify some happiness triggers—things that boost your mood based on the senses that instantly make you feel a little bit better—and start accessing them daily. This can be as simple as getting your favorite drink like tea or coffee, having a picture of your family or pet as a wallpaper on your phone/computer screen, etc. 

Small, incremental steps are the best way to make sure you stick with your goals. Making big changes all at once is expecting a lot out of yourself and can quickly start to feel overwhelming. Change doesn’t happen all at once, and making habits around your goals that are sustainable is much more likely to reap results than ambitious or far-reaching steps.

What Are 5 Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle?

Here 5 tips for fostering lifestyle habits:

  1. Take time out for yourself. There is no shame in self-care. If you feel burnt out and overwhelmed, you won’t be able to give those close to you the full support you want to give them if you don’t have the physical or emotional energy for it until you replenish your own peace and energy.
  2. Have a daily routine. Routines help us feel in control and feel safe. Having a general idea of what we’re doing each day allows usto plan for each thing, as well as become more flexible for surprises and spontaneous events. 
  3. Have a good sleep routine. Sleep can impact our lives in very big ways. Having a good sleep routine helps ensure that you have energy, honoring your body so that you can do whatever it is you need to do—whether it is work, spending time with your family, or engaging in your favorite hobby.
  4. Do some sort of physical activity a few times a week. There is a reason why folks do “mental health walks.” Physical exercise releases dopamine—that’s the “feel good” neurochemical. So by exercising, you’re doing something that not only improves your physical health, but also helps improve your mood and manage symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  5. Nurturing and reaching out to our support system. One of the key components that helps determine the efficacy of therapy is a person’s support system. The stronger that support system is, the better the outcome of therapy. As such, having friends and family that help you feel supported gives you the strength to tackle challenges. 

With all of these options, therapy is an excellent way to figure out personalized ways to better your life, whether that be physically, spiritually, mentally, or emotionally. A therapist will work with you to create goals and find out what thoughts, behaviors, or actions aren’t serving you in your life.

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Table of contents

What Defines a Healthy Lifestyle?

Why Does Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle Matter?

How Do I Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle?

What Are 5 Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle?

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  • Worley, S. L. W. (2018, December). The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. National Library of Medicine.

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