Healthy living should be a priority for us all.
Unfortunately, not everyone takes this piece of advice seriously. In fact, a 2018 survey concluded that a staggering 72% of Canadian men live unhealthy lifestyles. And even though that survey was directed toward men, I doubt the figures for much better for women.
The reality is you are responsible for your health.
No one else is going to manage this important aspect of your life for you. And if you want to live a long and happy life, your health is where you need to start. The good news is that getting started is a relatively simple process.
All it takes is a few key fundamental habits — practiced consistently over time — to reap the rewards that come with healthy living.
But before we get into the basics, it’s good to understand…
9 Unique Habit Ideas for Healthy Living
This is by no means an exhaustive list,
There are an almost endless amount of habits you can engage in for optimum health. However, the habits I’m sharing here are the ones that are both scientifically backed and have worked well for me, personally. Most of these practices I’ve been implementing for years, others, only a few months.
I share this to inform you that I have personal experience with these habits, and am not just regurgitating what I read from some blog or scientific study.
But without further ado, here are 9 habit ideas for healthy living.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness can come in many forms.
You can try intention setting, breathing exercises, or even do some quirky shit like sudoku or a jigsaw puzzle. I enjoy meditation. As of this writing, I’ve been meditating every day for about 9 months. Consequently, I am more focused, relaxed, and easygoing.
It’s a great stress reliever that has truly helped me become more even-tempered.
In fact, studies have shown that regular meditation can reduce stress and control anxiety. As a result, this habit will encourage healthy living by better managing your stress levels. If you’re wondering how you can start meditating, don’t worry, I got you…
How to Start Meditating for Healthy Living
Meditating is easy… in a very tongue-in-cheek sort of way.
Why? Because it is easy in the sense that all you have to do is find a quiet place to sit for a few minutes. However, you’d be surprised at how challenging it is to actually do that activity. Your mind is like a drunken monkey in a lot of ways — constantly running off in a hundred directions.
“I still have to go to the gym today. Did I send that email off to Brett? What did Jessie mean by that comment earlier?” And on and on.
Meditation quiets your thoughts, focuses your mind, and stops you from being so damn neurotic.
You can begin your meditation practice by simply setting a timer (10, 15, 20 minutes, whatever works best for you) and focusing on your breath.
Any time your thoughts wander, bring them back to your breath. Take deep breaths. Try the 4/4/4 rule: Count 4 seconds as you inhale, hold it for 4 seconds, and then exhale for another 4 seconds, and repeat until your timer rings.
Feel the difference that makes in your state, and you’ll never go back.
2. Feed Your Mind
“Nourish your mind like you would feed your body. The mind cannot survive on junkfood.”Jim Rohn
You are what you consume.
And this principle doesn’t just apply to what you eat. It applies to the social media accounts you follow, the TV shows you watch, the music you listen to, etc. What you feed your mind with influences how you think, what you do, and the results you get.
That’s why feeding your mind with positive, educational, and inspirational content is crucial.
Listen to podcasts, read books, take courses and training, etc. These things will have a tremendous impact on the way you view life, as well as how you navigate through it. The more you know, the better choices, you’ll make; and it’s as simple as that.
A Simple Practice to Feed Your Mind
Start your own 30-minute-a-day habit where you feed your mind.
I listen to podcasts and my favourite motivational speakers on Spotify. I listen while I’m at the gym, running errands, or even just lazing around at home. With Spotify, iTunes, or any other audio platform, consuming a half hour of positive content every day is effortless.
Consequently, you’ll learn and absorb insightful information that will improve your mindset slowly over time. You can’t miss that kind of education!
3. Social Media Detox
I get it.
Social media is fun. But it’s also distracting, time-consuming, and even creatively stifling. Now, this is not to deter you from ever going on your favourite platforms again. But rather, it’s to help you realize that too much of anything can be bad for you.
And because it’s so easy to over-consume social media, you need to be extra vigilant about how much time you’re allocating to it.
As long as you don’t need social media for business or anything pressing, try a 30-day detox. Seriously. You’ll be amazing at the effect taking a break from these platforms will have on your mental state and overall well-being.
The benefits of quitting social media, even for short periods, are well worth it.
4. Stay Hydrated
Water is essential.
You already know this. However, you might not know that less than 30% of people drink the recommended amount. Over time, this can have many negative consequences in regard to your health.
Here are just a few of the ways water helps your body function:
- Carries oxygen and nourishment to your cells
- Helps with digestion
- Stabilizes your blood pressure
- Cleanses your bladder of bacteria
- Cushions your joints
- maintains and manages your body temperature
- Can help prevent constipation, etc
Essentially, water helps to maintain your body’s functionality. Ensuring you get enough fluid in your system each day allows you to be at your optimum! But the next question you’re probably asking yourself is…
How Much Water Should I Drink Every Day?
The answer to this question is: it depends.
Variables such as your weight, size, lifestyle, etc, will all contribute to the amount of water you should consume daily. For example, if you’re a 220lb bodybuilder who’s in the gym every day, you may need as much as 15 or 16 cups of water daily. However, if you are only 130lbs and you live a sedentary lifestyle, then the standard 6 to 8 cups should suffice.
Once you take these factors (as well as common sense) into consideration, determining your daily water intake is a fairly easy assessment.
5. Quit Your Bad Habits
We all have our vices.
And certainly, there is a time and place for some of them. I’ll be the first person to tell you that. However, if such habits have more control over you than you do over them, then you need to drop them. Vices are fine, as long as you indulge sparingly and remain in full control over them.
If you’re committed to healthy living, then you must drop any habit that you can’t control:
- Dirty websites
- Eating too much junk food
- Negative self talk
- Not getting enough sleep/exercise, etc
These are just a few bad habits that you should work toward eliminating from your life. It won’t be busy. And it won’t be a quick process by any means either, but once done, you will experience the amazing benefits of healthy living that will follow you for the rest of your life.
6. Compound Exercises (The Big Lifts)
Of course, we can’t have an article about healthy living without including exercise.
But here, I’m not talking about just any exercise. These are specific types of workouts designed for optimum strength and endurance — compound exercises. Compound workouts are exercises that stimulate multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
With the thousands of exercises that can be performed at the gym, barbell training utilizes just four.
Also known as the “Big Lifts”, these compound exercises include the bench press, deadlift, overhead press, and barbell squat. Regardless of your current levels of athleticism, these workouts should make up the bulk of your strength training program. They are the foundation of a workout regime that will contribute to a healthy and fit lifestyle.
Let’s take a closer look at each exercise:
The bench press is a compound exercise that works your upper body.
You lay on a bench with a barbell above you. Weights on either end of the barbell should be appropriately loaded based on your current levels of strength and physicality. With both feet firmly planted on the floor, you use your arms to lift the weighted barbell.
Bench presses are used to improve strength, increase endurance, and sculpt the upper body muscles (arms, chest, shoulders).
The deadlift is a weighting training and powerlifting exercise.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s unsuitable for everyday people or hobbyist athletes. The exercise is performed with a loaded barbell being lifted to hip level from the ground and then returned to its ground position. Deadlifts work most of the leg muscles as well as the core and lower back.
This exercise increases core strength, stability, and can even improve your posture.
An upper-body exercise, the overhead press is used to cultivate the anterior deltoid shoulder muscles.
You press the weight over your head before slowly bringing it down to shoulder height. Then simply repeat the action until the completion of the set. The overhead press can be performed either sitting or standing, although it is typically done while the trainee stands in position.
As a result, the overhead press is a convenient exercise that works the chest, shoulders, and upper back.
A barbell squat is a compound exercise that stimulates the muscles in the lower body.
Performing the exercise consists of loading the barbell with the appropriate weight. Always remember, it’s better to underestimate your weight capacity and adjust accordingly rather than overestimate and risk injury. Once the weight is loaded, go under the barbell until the center of it rests on the back of your neck.
Then unrack the weight and perform squat motions until the completion of your set.
The barbell squat works the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscle groups. Be sure your feet are shoulder-width apart when performing barbell squats.
You may be asking yourself, “What part does giving play in healthy living?”
The answer is: a BIG part. Giving to others without expecting anything in return builds character and fosters a healthy outlook toward those who are less fortunate. Consequently, you develop empathy as well as a more generous personality.
What’s more, giving makes you feel more abundant.
It’s easy to get trapped in a scarcity mindset when you hoard your time, money, and resources. But by giving, you communicate to yourself that there’s more than enough to go around. And that’s because there is!
Giving also allows you to feel more connected with others.
If you’re anything like me, chances are you get caught in your own world of worries, concerns, self-doubt, etc. But by giving — even if it’s only in a small way — you feel more connected to humanity, and all of a sudden, your “problems” don’t seem that bad anymore. And the best part?
Giving is easy and effortless to do.
It could be as simple as donating $50 to an animal shelter or the public library in your city. You could donate to political or humanitarian causes you believe in. Or you could just spot a twenty to the homeless man on the street or offer to pay for the person’s coffee behind you at Tim Horton’s.
Regardless, giving is powerful. So be sure to budget your finances (or time) to give a little each month.
8. Keep a Morning/Evening Routine
Human beings are creatures of habit.
We thrive on routine, as it provides us with certainty and stability. For this reason, having a consistent morning and evening routine in place can help bring more order to your life. But more than that, routines also provide you with peace of mind.
They reduce anxiety and help you to better manage stress levels.
As a result, you walk around with an improved mental state. Failure to adhere to a consistent routine can put you at risk of heart disease and can even compromise your overall health. That’s why bookending your days with a set of rituals can have such a powerful impact on your quality of life.
Some habit ideas for a morning/evening routine include:
- Engaging in a hobby
- Listening to music/podcasts
These are just a few suggestions to get the gears turning.
By all means, if you have some other ideas, try them out and see how they work for you. You can mix and match these habits until you find ones that you enjoy and would like to keep in your rotation. Just be sure that the habits are productive and health-based as you will be doing them every day for your morning/evening routines.
9. Indulge (a Little)
I’m going to contradict myself here.
But stay with me — I have the logic to justify why indulging is important for healthy living. A healthy lifestyle requires sacrifice. You say no to the donut in favour of the apple; you skip Netflix to go to the gym; you opt for water instead of the energy drink, etc.
You are delaying instant gratification now for a better payoff later. And that’s the right thing to do.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to be drill-sergeant-strict with yourself all the time. Treating yourself is a good thing when done in moderation. Don’t be afraid to have a pizza for dinner, ice cream for dessert, or some alcohol on a date or a special occasion.
Life is short — live a little.
These types of treats and rewards (again, when done in moderation) enrich your experience, making the discipline and hard work well worth it in the end.
By giving yourself permission to enjoy some of these things from time to time, you make healthy living easier. Why? Because with a treat on the other side of your discipline, you’ll be more inclined to keep up the pace since you have something to look forward to.
But more than that, you’ll enjoy those treats much more because you know you earned them!
Are You Ready to Take on the Art of Healthy Living?
Healthy living is everyone’s birthright.
However, with temptation so readily available nowadays, it’s harder to do than ever before. But that doesn’t mean it should your health should be left by the wayside. Make your health a priority today by practicing some of the habit ideas listed in this article.
By doing so, you’re putting yourself on the path to a better, happier, and healthier life.