What are examples of healthy lifestyle changes?
What are some healthy lifestyle changes to improve your mental health?
If you’re feeling tired, drained, stressed, overwhelmed, or anywhere in between, you need to focus on living a cleaner, healthier lifestyle.
Healthy living is the key to unlocking that door that leads to more energy, clearer skin, better mood, better digestion, and so much more. However, making healthy lifestyle changes isn’t always easy or obvious; there is no exact recipe to follow, and there’s no one size that fits all.
Healthy living is a journey. There is no end destination. If there were a universal solution, we probably wouldn’t see the skyrocketing disease prevalence and mental health crises in our society.
Thankfully, creating a healthy lifestyle can be simple with a few tools and a little bit of experimentation and patience.
What is a Healthy Lifestyle?
Let me start by saying there is no right way to live, nor is there one healthiest way to live. A healthy lifestyle for one person could be damaging for another. However, a few principles can help you get started finding a routine that works best for you.
Your lifestyle is a compilation of small, daily choices and habits. Merriam-Webster defines a habit as “…an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary, developed by frequent repetition.”
Practices are so habitual that we rarely even notice when we are doing them.
Therefore, it’s essential to prioritize awareness and effective, sustainable behavior change that is enjoyable. A healthy lifestyle is more than eating healthy and exercising– it’s more important than ever to find a balance in your life between work, relationships, sleep, nourishment, and more.
In this article, you’ll leave 15 healthy lifestyle changes you can make, starting with your habits, negative influences and ending with a few changes to improve mental clarity. With this simple, easy, and small list of lifestyle changes, you can feel better in your body and your mind.
Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle by Mastering Your Habits
#1. Start Small
The number one mistake people make when trying to change their habits is making too extreme changes too quickly.
Maybe someone you know, or perhaps it’s you, who has tried to go on a diet by eliminating all sweets and red meat in one giant sweeping action.
Instead of trying to wake up at 5 a.m. tomorrow, meditate, run a 5k, drink a gallon of water, and only eat fruit, veggies, and legumes, considering thinking smaller. By making micro-changes in your routine, your new habits are more likely to become sustainable lifestyle changes.
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#2. Set SMART Goals
Since you are here following Nadalie, you likely know a thing or two about SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
The benefit of setting SMART goals concerning your health is that you can plan, measure, and reward yourself, which will help you stay motivated throughout your journey.
So, instead of just setting a healthy lifestyle change to “get fit,” “start exercising” or “eat healthier” (all good choices), you’ll take it one step further by making it S.M.A.R.T. too. (Get your FREE Smart Goals Worksheet here).
The main purpose of SMART goals is to quantify your goal, make it as clear as possible so you know how to exactly achieve it.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: 25 SMART Health Goals Examples
How to Set SMART Healthy Lifestyle Goals
For example, if you want to “live a healthier lifestyle” define what that means with a SMART Goal:
- Specific: “I want to start doing yoga every morning to enhance flexibility and calmness in my life”
- Measurable: “I will use a habit tracker in my bullet journal to keep track of daily yoga practice”
- Achievable: “If I give up morning TV for yoga I have 15 minutes to do this in the morning”
- Relevant: “Yoga is good for mental and physical health, it’s the right choice to help me live a healthier lifestyle”
- Timebound: “I will practice my daily yoga for 15-minutes every day at 8:00 a.m.”
Can you see the difference that setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal can have for your journey to a healthier lifestyle?
#3. Find an Accountability Buddy
Did you know 95% of people are more likely to reach their goals when they team up? That can make a huge difference in your ability to make healthy lifestyle changes. Don’t do it alone!
Simply verbalizing your plans to someone else, whether a friend or family member, increases the likelihood you’ll achieve what you’ve set out to achieve.
The key to making lifestyle changes is not giving up, so find yourself a buddy.
#4. Measure Your Progress and Reward Yourself
Condition yourself to enjoy new behaviors by rewarding yourself for reaching goals you’ve set out for yourself.
Whether that’s sticking with yoga for 5 days in a row, or cutting out soda for two weeks, you deserve a simple treat! Just make sure your rewards are not counterproductive to your main goal (so if you’ve quit junk food, treat yourself to a yummy healthy meal).
#5. Focus on Adding Good Things to Your Life
Instead of trying to get rid of “bad” habits, focus on replacing them with better, healthier ones. That’s a true healthy lifestyle change!
Frequently health discussions focus on unhealthy habits and how to remove them. Going down that route doesn’t always work well because deprivation is demotivating.
Instead of thinking “no more sweets,” try to implement new healthy additions to keep things fresh, spicy, and motivating!
You could also reframe your mindset from what you can’t have, to what you are building towards.
Negative Lifestyle Choices You Need to Quit
Everybody is different, but there is no doubt that chronic stress and anxiety, chronic sleep deprivation, and nutrition deficiencies are surefire ingredients for brain fog.
Read on to learn how these behaviors can negatively affect your ability to think clearly and concentrate. Plus, how to beat them with simple changes.
#6. Kick the Chronic Stress
Chronic (or continuous) stress can weaken your immune system, increase blood pressure, and decrease your ability to concentrate and think clearly. The most necessary lifestyle change is addressing stress. When you feel stressed, there is a giant cascade of reactions occurring “behind the scenes.”
I want to get sciencey with you for a minute, so let’s put on our white coats here for a minute. Our nervous system is the network that tells reacts to touching a hot stove by moving our hand away.
The nervous system is composed of the parasympathetic (rest and digest) and the sympathetic (fight or flight) system. Every time you feel stressed, your body activates your fight or flight system by releasing the stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline. Too much cortisol in your bloodstream can lead to depression, anxiety and can even alter your DNA.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Deal with Stress and Anxiety
Lifestyle Changes to Relieve Stress
If you are dealing with chronic stress, you have to learn coping strategies for managing your stress levels. Healthy lifestyle changes you need to make ASAP could include:
- Start exercising daily to relieve stress levels
- Journaling daily to release emotional stress
- Mediating every day to calm your thoughts
- Practicing yoga to release tension and stress
- Deep breathing to slow your health rate
- Getting good sleep nightly to let the body heal
Choose one as your new healthier habit and stick to it!
#7. Beat the Fatigue
Do you feel tired, like really tired? Not just physically, but emotionally too? A lack of sleep drains every aspect of your being, especially over long periods of time.
There are so many negative side effects to not getting good sleep, from depression, health problems, and, weight gain to memory issues and mood changes.
Fatigue is a productivity killer. Get good, quality sleep, take mental breaks, take social media breaks, whatever you need to feel emotionally sound. Being tired physically can be more than just rest. If you’re really active or you’re on your feet for work, that can take a severe toll on your body.
Seasonal changes and daylight savings time insomnia can also take a toll on your ability to sleep. Be sure to go to sleep earlier to give your body time to adjust.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: Ultimate Bedtime Routine for Better Sleep
#8. Fight Nutrient Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiencies can wreak havoc on your body in a cellular way that can make you feel dizzy, tired, and foggy-brained.
There are so many nutrients that are directly correlated to energy levels and focus, like:
- Vitamin B12 transforms food into energy
- Vitamin D can help improve your mood
- Iron helps to make healthy red blood cells
The key to success here is variation! It’s the spice of life after all. Don’t just eat the same type of foods over and over again.
I wouldn’t bother getting too caught up in what foods fill which nutrient needs. If the food can be grown on a farm, it likely has a plethora of nutrients. Strive to eat the rainbow, and you’ll be flying high, my friend.
Another option is to find a quick boost from a healthy dietary supplement or vitamin.
#9. Quit Checking Social Media
Constantly looking down at your phone when you should be working? Are spending hours scrolling on social media every day? You’ve got to quit it!
Not only is social media bad for your emotional health, and is known to negatively impact your self-image and self-confidence, but it’s bad for your health too. Constantly looking down at your phone causes spin, neck, and shoulder pain. Tensions in the neck can also lead to headaches which make it impossible to focus.
Taking a break from your phone is a good idea, but also just reducing the amount of time you check it every day.
Reduce your time on your phone by:
- Putting it out of sight, so it can be out of mind
- Leaving it on silent while working
- Placing it out of reach from your bed
- Setting app time limits on your phone
- Turning off unnecessary notifications
Reducing your time on social media and your devices, in general, is one of the best healthy lifestyle changes you can make.
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Lifestyle Changes to Increase Mental Clarity and Focus
Looking for more examples of healthy lifestyle changes you can make today?
Make it your goal this week to tackle just one of these tips… and don’t forget to reward yourself too!
#10. Do Meditation and Mindfulness
The practice of meditation is far simpler than its reputation may suggest. Meditation is not about “emptying your mind” or stopping thoughts. The “goal” of meditation is simply to practice being more present.
Next time you take a shower, try this exercise. Focus on the feeling of the water and the temperature.
- Can you notice any distinct smells in your shampoo or body wash?
- Are there any other sounds you can hear over the sound of the water running?
Now, unless you are a Tibetan Monk, your mind will wander. You may find yourself thinking about what’s for dinner or that deadline for work. And that’s okay. If wandering thoughts arise, the goal is simply not to cling to them. Wave hello, and then try to bring your focus back to your breath or your senses.
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It Takes 5-10 Minutes
You may be asking what any of this has to do with concentration, stress, or healthy living. We are often inclined to cling to thoughts (predominantly negative or stressful ones) that lead to chronic stress. Furthermore, taking 10 minutes a day to slow down, put away the technology, and focus on slowing down gives your body and mind time to recover from any lingering stresses or emotions.
Meditation can come in several different flavors, including seated meditation, journaling, walking, and stretching meditation. A personal favorite of mine is writing reflection. A suggestion to help you get started is a morning meditation session. Take 5-10 minutes in the morning to some stream-of-consciousness writing. If you click through to my blog, I have several prompts to help you get started.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: 10 Benefits of Yoga for Mind and Body
#11. Have Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep has recently emerged as the third pillar of healthy aging, alongside nutrition and exercise. It’s no longer as much about getting a total of 8 hours as it is about getting quality sleep.
The average individual has an 80% sleep efficiency, meaning for every 10 hours they are in bed “sleeping,” they are genuinely only getting 8 hours of quality sleep. To increase the quality of your sleep, try implementing healthy sleep hygiene.
Good sleep hygiene includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (yeah, including the weekends), creating a wind-down ritual, and avoiding blue light (from technology) within an hour before your bedtime.
Other good habits to try are eating or drinking caffeine at least 5 hours before bedtime and turning the A/C temperature down.
#12. Eat More Nutrient-Rich Foods
Food is nourishment. Food is the fuel we use to breathe, walk, talk, and do our most basic functions. Simple carbohydrates, such as sweets and white bread, increase your blood sugar content, obscuring your ability to think clearly.
There is nothing wrong with sweets; just be sure to balance them with food high in nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes are always great options for creating a diverse portfolio of minerals, antioxidants, macronutrients, and vitamins.
When in doubt eat more veg than animal protein and choose brightly colored over one color.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: 15 Healthy Foods to Eat Every Day
#13. Hydrate Consistently
I honestly feel like water is the magical elixir of life. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing you can feel and how you can think fully hydrated.
Some of the signs of dehydration are subtle, like dry mouth, cracked lips, dry eyes, itchy skin, or even slight dizziness.
One of my guilty pleasures for years was energy drinks and coffee. When I started replacing caffeine with water, I was amazed that I felt more energized and alert than I ever did from all the caffeine.
So, instead of drinking for energy, start drinking more water for hydration. You can add a few slices of your favorite fruit to your water for added flavor.
Keep this healthy lifestyle change simple and easy by just drinking more water than you are now, working your way up to eight 8 ounce glasses per day.
#14. Work Hard, Play Harder
This is my favorite tip, and I’ve saved the best for last. Enjoy your life!
No life is happy or perfect 100% of the time, but don’t forget to do things or see people that make you smile. Joy provides a great rush of endorphins and a steady dose of serotonin that can make the journey more enjoyable and increase its longevity.
Now, go take a quick break, take your shoes off and stand in the grass and think of something you’re grateful for! Gratitude is always a significant mood boost!
If you need help making gratitude a daily lifestyle change, get your free 30-day gratitude journal here.
Make a Healthy Lifestyle Change Today
The best version of you is borne from a healthy mind, environment, and body. With that being said, you don’t need to be perfect to lead a healthier life.
In fact, I strongly encourage messy action. Turn up for life. Try, mess up, fall of the wagon, get back on. I’ve said it once, but I’ll repeat it, healthy living is a journey, not a destination. You’ve taken the most challenging step, which is acknowledging the room for growth.
Get Your Printable Habit Trackers
Ready to make a simple and easy healthy lifestyle change? Sign up below to get your printable habit tracker templates, with spreads for 30 and 31 days. Pick a new healthy habit, and make it stick with these trackers.
As you continue to embark on your journey, remember to look around every once in a while. Life is beautiful 🙂
Want examples of lifestyle changes you can make? Need a healthy lifestyle plan? Here are 14 small healthy lifestyle changes for mental clarity. #HealthyLifestyle #HealthyLiving #HealthyEating #MentalHealth
What healthy lifestyle changes will you make?
More About Guest Contributor
I’m Hannah, and I’m the founder of MindBodyBiome. Mindbodybiome is a community in which we approach health through the lens of interconnectedness. I aim to show others that the power to heal, transform and elevate is already within yourself.
Last Updated on December 12, 2021