Everyone alive makes daily choices that affect their mental and physical health. Here is our top list of lifestyle choices that can help you develop healthy daily habits for your mind and body.
No matter where you are on your life journey, you can benefit from making healthier choices in the way you move, the foods you choose to consume, and how you cope with stress.
The goal is not to achieve complete perfection when it comes to healthy lifestyle habits – perfectionism backfires when you fail, which inevitably happens because humans aren't built to be perfect.
The ultimate goal, instead, is making healthy choices more often than not and achieving balance. When you strive for balanced, healthy lifestyle changes, you can keep yourself physically fit, emotionally happy, and as stress-free as you can be.
Follow our tips for a healthy life style below, and integrate some of the lifestyle choice examples that speak to you most.
1) Get Your Body Moving Every Day
Exercise is touted as a foundation for weight loss and muscle building, but its importance stretches far beyond that. Physical activity strengthens your heart and improves circulation, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and improves your chances of living longer.
How much exercise do you need to reap all of the benefits?
For optimal health benefits, get moving with some physical activity for 30 minutes each day. You don't need to go for a daily 10K run or lift heavy, though those are both great options if you choose.
Moderate exercise is more than enough to reap the health benefits – simply move enough to get your heart pumping. Head out to walk in some fresh air or do some yoga and gentle stretching.
2) Find Healthy Outlets for Stress
Stress is not only incredibly unpleasant, but it also wreaks havoc on your health. The physical effects of stress cause premature aging, increased risk of heart disease, a weakened immune system, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, weight gain, and tension.
And emotionally, not dealing with chronic stress is one of the worst unhealthy living choices you can make, as stress can increase or cause depression and anxiety symptoms. Though you can't fully control or eliminate many of the everyday stressors you encounter at work or home, you can build strong skills to manage and reduce the stress you feel.
The best way to combat a lot of stress is to practice mindfulness, which means staying in the present moment. Much stress and anxiety is caused by thinking about how things should have gone in the past and worrying about things not going well in the future. Being present gives us the clarity that all we can do is live in the now.
Practice being present whenever you can throughout the day. Catch your stressful thoughts and focus on something in the present. You can do this no matter what task you're doing. If you're folding laundry and worrying (because what else do we do while folding the laundry?), instead focus on the warmth of the fabric and textures you're feeling.
If you’re interested in mindfulness practice, consider starting a regular meditation habit. Just add a short 5-minute routine into your day, and see how it makes you feel.
Many other lifestyle habits on this list will help reduce stress as well – healthy eating, physical activity, and adequate sleep are great healthy outlets to manage stress.
3) Eat Healthy Foods 80% of the Time
Eating well is one of the most essential healthy living habits we can maintain. Our bodies need adequate nutrition to support crucial functions and healthy bones, muscles, and cells.
But what is eating well?
We know that good lifestyle choices require striking a balance. Whole, fresh foods that are nutrient-dense (i.e. full of vitamins and minerals) are the best food options for your body.
Consider adding more plant-based meals into your diet, as they're naturally nutrient-rich and lower in saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol levels and risk of disease. Try a tofu scramble for breakfast in place of eggs or a vegetarian stir-fry for dinner.
A diet of only whole foods is unrealistic and pretty restrictive, especially if you feel guilty whenever you've made these "unhealthy lifestyle choices" and had some junk food.
Try to aim for 80% of your diet to be healthy, whole foods, and eat whatever you'd like for the other 20% to build healthy habits that are good for your physical and mental health.
4) Make Time for Play
Kids regularly make the best healthy lifestyle choices examples in this next tip: making time for play.
As we get older and our responsibilities seem to multiply daily, we forget that play is, well, a ton of fun. Playtime is equally important for adults as it is for children and can reduce our stress, improve relationships, spark creativity, and improve energy. Ironically, making time to play can give you the break you need and actually boost overall productivity when you get back to your adult responsibilities.
To add more play into your life, make a list of all the things you have enjoyed, or think you might enjoy doing. Then, decide on a minimum amount of "fun time" you want in your day (we suggest at least 30 minutes), and put it into your schedule as a non-negotiable.
5) Take a Break from Drinking
Many social outings center around breaking bread and enjoying drinks with friends or having a drink to unwind in the evening. While you can have a perfectly healthy emotional relationship with alcohol, consumption of alcohol doesn't do any favors for your physical health.
For even moderate drinkers, taking a month-long drinking break can yield some significant benefits. Removing all alcohol from your diet for 30 days can improve liver function, lower blood pressure, reduce blood sugar levels, and improve overall concentration.
Drinking breaks are an excellent way to take a step back and re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol. Try a 30-day break from booze once every 12 months!
6) Make Sleep a Non-negotiable
Busy lifestyles don't bode well for most of us getting enough sleep regularly, yet rest is one of the best health habits you can adopt.
Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night will strengthen your immune system, improve your heart, aid hormone production, improve memory, and increase energy levels.
If you aren't currently getting enough sleep, the best way to get a little more shut-eye is to head to bed earlier. Set your phone to silent and ditch the screens at least an hour before bed.
Start a regular bedtime routine that will start priming your body for sleep and make the process easier over time. Set a daily alarm and wake up at the same time so that your body falls into a familiar pattern, making it easy to get enough sleep.
7) You're Never Too Old for Learning
From a young age, we're immersed in learning from family, friends, and teachers. As we grow older, we begin to focus on applying skills we already have to work, and learning takes a backseat.
Active learning should be a lifelong process, as continuous stimulation strengthens our brains, reduces the risk of neurological conditions, builds self-confidence, adds new neural pathways, and helps us to face new challenges.
The best ways to learn are by reading about topics that interest you, listening to the words of different field experts, and trying novel things for yourself. Making a little time each day to learn will keep your brain healthy and may ignite passions you didn’t even know you have!
Final Notes: Building Healthy Habits
These are just seven examples of healthy lifestyle choices you can make to live a healthier and more balanced life.
Remember, some of the best ways to create a healthy balance are to:
- Move your body with some moderate-effort exercise 30 minutes per day
- Find healthy ways to reduce chronic stress
- Make more nutritious food choices most of the time
- Build play time into your day
- Take periodic breaks from drinking alcohol
- Build a bedtime routine to get enough sleep
- And keep learning to strengthen your brain and build passion
You can incorporate these choices into your life or come up with some creative options of your own. Whatever you choose to do, we wish you luck in finding the right balance for a happy and healthy lifestyle!