Learn how to make your health habits sustainable and more enjoyable to implement with these 5 steps for creating healthy habits.
With all the talk of healthy habits and a plethora of strategies, diets, and recommendations that surround us to help us lead healthy lifestyles, it can be really tough to navigate it all and know what we should or shouldn’t do.
There’s so much health information out there, and I bet you know more than you might think you do! But why can is still be so hard to make lasting lifestyle changes?
This is because knowledge does not equal behaviour change.
Just simply being presented with information or being knowledgable about what’s considered healthy does not automatically make us create lasting, sustainable behaviour changes. Instead, getting clear on our wants, needs, likes, dislikes, and unique bodies and lifestyle is where the good stuff really lies.
Feeling overwhelmed by or disappointed with our progress toward our health goals is commonplace. But I’ve got you in today’s post as I share with you a framework for creating healthy habits that actually work for you instead of against you. I promise you can find ease and enjoyment in implementing new healthy behaviours into your life — it need not be complicated or stressful. Today’s post will help to get you started on the right track and have you thinking about your lifestyle goals in a new light.
How to Create Healthy Habits
1. Create a Wellness Vision
Creating a wellness vision for yourself is the first step to creating healthy habits. This is a vision of the way you want to live, how you want to feel, the behaviours you want to carry out each day, and what your ideal level of wellness looks like to you. A wellness vision helps us let go of what others say or what popular trends make us think we “should” eat or do to be healthy. It’s all about tuning in to your individual wants and needs instead of mirroring someone else’s lifestyle.
Grab a journal and give yourself a few minutes to explore your unique vision of wellness:
- Write down what wellness looks and feels like to you. To be more detailed, write down what your ideal day would look like from morning until bedtime. What behaviours or practices would you be doing? How would you want to feel throughout different parts of the day? What do you look and feel like at your ideal level of wellness?
- Get clear on your why. What is most important to you about your vision? What do you value most? How would those things have a positive impact in your life, now and in the future?
2. Tune In
After you’ve established your wellness vision, ask yourself what it is that you intuitively feel you need right now that aligns with your vision. Brainstorm what actions or behaviours resonate most with you right now. Take a moment to be still with yourself and focus on what comes to your mind when you ask yourself these questions:
- What do I need in my life right now that would help me work towards my overarching vision of wellness?
- What habit or practice would be most helpful for me right now?
3. Identify Obstacles
Identifying the potential obstacles that you might face along the way of integrating a new behaviour or habit gives you the opportunity to prepare for them. Ask yourself what challenges might get in your way and how you may be able to work through them. Additionally, what tools, resources, support systems, or environments might you need to have in place that would make this behaviour easier for you to practice?
4. Get Specific
Once you’ve created a Wellness Vision, brainstormed some actions that resonate with you right now and have identified any potential challenges, select a behaviour that feels most important to you right now and make it specific.
You want to avoid being vague about the goal you wish to create. Instead of saying “I want to move my body more”, get specific about things like what kind of activity you wish to do, how many minutes you wish to do it, how often, and what time or day of the week. Most importantly, make sure you keep it realistic. This is also known as the SMART goal formula:
- Time bound
Keeping your goals specific (as well as aligned with your wants, needs, and values!) will make it much easier to carry out.
5. Practice & Regularly Check-In With Yourself
Once you’ve created a plan for implementing a new practice in your life that aligns with your wellness vision, you’ll want to continually check in with yourself once you’ve begun putting the behaviour into practice so you can make adjustments as needed.
Simply ask yourself what’s working or not working when it comes to the particular behaviour. If it’s proving to be difficult for you to carry out regularly, ask yourself: what’s challenging about this? Do I need to learn new skills to help me out, or do I need to let it go completely? Sometimes a specific kind of habit is just not meant for us right now, but something else would fit our needs better.
For example, if you’ve told yourself that you need to start working out every day but it’s proving to be difficult for you, this is a great opportunity to check in with yourself and re-adjust your actions accordingly. Maybe exercising daily or doing a specific kind of workout isn’t jiving with you right now or in alignment with what your needs truly are. Perhaps there’s another style of movement or environment that would suit you better if you take a moment to dig deep and reflect.
Another example may be that you’ve set a goal to cook homemade meals every night of the week. If it is becoming difficult to achieve, you can ask yourself if there is a specific tool, resource, or skill you could improve upon to help you out, such as meal prepping, meal planning, or investing in a certain kitchen appliance. Or perhaps scaling back the amount of cooking you’re doing will make it more realistic for you.
These are just examples, but you can see that checking in with yourself is important so that you can uncover what’s working or not, learn from your experiences, and make any needed adjustments to the goals you have set for yourself to ensure that they are aligning with your unique wellness vision.
A Note on Self-Compassion
Having self-compassion when things “get off track” (which they inevitably will) is an essential component to creating lasting health habits. Firstly, let go of the notion that you can “fall off the wagon” in the first place. There is no wagon! Life will always have ups and downs and obstacles will always present themselves from time to time. It’s not about trying to eliminate obstacles altogether, but learning from them and becoming resilient and resourceful when they appear so we can overcome them with grace.
Remember that “setbacks” are not failures but wonderful learning opportunities for you to determine where you may need to make a tweak in a new behaviour or goal.
What healthy habits are you working towards? Has this post helped you re-think your approach? Share below!