As we move away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we move into a time of prioritizing what’s important, setting goals and navigating forward in a healthy way. Are you ready to embark on a new career path? Want to learn how to make healthy meals for your family? Start waking up earlier to journal before your day begins? Whatever your goals are, working toward them in a healthy way can benefit both your physical health and your mental health.

  1. Start small: Research shows that simpler habits may form faster. Try breaking down a large habit, like doing an hour of exercise 4 times per week, into a smaller, more digestible habit, like doing stretches every morning or going for a 10 minute walk daily.
  2. Set realistic goals: You may be inclined to make large, sweeping goals like many people do at the start of the year — but those goals may not be realistic for you. Trying to accomplish too much at once is overwhelming and can lead to discouragement and anxiety. Set goals that apply to your life and gradually work your way up.
  3. Make a plan: Once you know what you want to achieve, make a plan of action. Having a roadmap will help keep you on track and motivated. There may be new habits that you can incorporate into existing habits — like reading for 10 minutes while you drink your morning coffee, or catching up on current events on your way to work.
  4. Give it time: Remember that it takes effort and consistency to develop new habits, so you’ll need to be patient with yourself and stick with it even when things get tough. A healthy you is a happier you, so continue to put your own health first as you incorporate these new habits.
  5. Make it part of your routine: Research shows that people with more daily routines have lower levels of distress when facing problems with their health or negative life events. Adding in your new habits to your routine can help you reach your goals while they become part of your “automatic” things to do daily. Remember that your healthy routines should include eating a nutrition-rich diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep, but your daily routines may not look exactly the same, and that’s ok.
  6. Reward yourself: Incentives are a great way to stay on track. When you reach milestones, give yourself a pat on the back or treat yourself to something you enjoy, whether it’s your favorite coffee or a new class you’ve been interested in.
Creating strong, healthy habits is always important, and is especially meaningful as you determine your path forward to living your best, most fulfilling life. By developing positive habits, you can create a foundation for success and pave the way toward your goals.

6 steps toward creating strong habits for improved health