A massive secret to achieving ‘happiness’ (whatever that might mean for you) is consistency when it comes to taking care of your emotional, mental, physical, social and financial needs.
This means forming healthy daily habits that you can stick to for the rest of your life.
Crucially, you need to start habits that work for YOU. It doesn’t matter that some interest person feels great doing them, they need to make you feel healthy.
If you don’t like yoga, there’s no point doing it every day if it only feels like a waste of time, right?
The importance of healthy daily habits
Why is it so important for us to form healthy habits?
Just like physical health, repairing our mental health doesn’t just happen overnight.
In order to improve our mindset, we have to put ourselves first every single day and continue to do so, even if you feel as if you’ve reached true happiness.
Happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.
It takes time.
You don’t simply eat a piece of chicken and suddenly become a body builder, right?
You need to consistently eat that protein every day and lift heavy weights several times a week.
It can and does take years.
Fortunately, this blog post isn’t about body building. It’s about forming healthy daily habits that will ultimately help improve your mental (and physical) health.
However, the message remains the same: Being healthy takes time and consistency.
Forming healthy daily habits provides that consistency so that, over time, your mental health and mindset can improve.
How to form a positive habit
They say that it takes three weeks to make or break a habit, but studies show it’s actually closer to 66 days for the average person. (It can apparently take anywhere between 18 – 254 days.)
My biggest tips for forming a healthy daily habit are:
- Force yourself – Even if you don’t feel like drinking that water and you really want soda instead, your have to be firm with yourself. If you really want the soda, you can obviously have it, but tell yourself you can’t until you’ve had water first.
- Set reminders and alarms – I used to reminders in my phone to journal and meditate. Now, it’s a habit so it’s second nature, but I relied HEAVILY on those alarms in the early days.
- Don’t take on too much – Only commit to a couple of healthy habits at first. Don’t overwhelm yourself or spread yourself too thin – you’re more likely to give up.
- Remember you ‘why’ – Remind yourself of why you’re forming this habit. Get specific. This should help motivate you to do it.
What are some good daily habits for health and happiness?
Here are some of my favourite healthy daily habits.
Okay, okay, this is an obvious one. BUT it’s worth mentioning.
Exercise encourages your body to release endorphins – the happy hormone. It also helps you relieve stress, take out any anger, and improves your mental health massively.
So there’s the ‘happy’ taken care of.
Physically, working out makes you stronger, improves bone density, heart health and a myriad of other awesome things. It’s an amazing habit for your health.
#2. Eat a balanced diet
What we eat has a huge impact on our mental and physical health and happiness.
While a little bit of not-so-nutrient-dense food, such as chocolate, is amazing for our soul sometimes (especially at that time of the month, am I right?), if we ate it all day, everyday, we would begin to feel crappy.
Humans need nutrients to function healthily.
On the flip side, if you just eat 100% ‘clean’ foods all the time, you’re going to get bored really easily and feel as if you’re depriving yourself.
Therefore, it’s good to get a balance of whole, nutrient-dense foods in your diet, as well as foods that make us feel mentally awesome.
#3. Listen to your body
It’s good to get into the habit of listening to your body and resting when you need it.
If you’re tired, sore, unwell, or simply just not feeling it, take a rest, eat some food, drink plenty of water, and sleep.
The whole #nodaysoff mentality is so toxic for our mindsets because it instils this notion that taking a day for your body to rest is somehow weak or failure.
In reality, our bodies need rest to recover or, best case scenario, we start to resent whichever exercise we used to love, or worse: we get injured.
Black and white thinking isn’t good for anyone.
Human beings don’t live in extremes. It’s important to find a balance between moving our body and rest.
#4. Get in the habit of stretching
Whether you enjoy yoga or not, the benefits of simply stretching each day, especially if you live a pretty sedentary life, are indisputable.
Even if you only get up to stretch for a minute every hour or so, it’s important to keep your blood circulating.
#5. Drink water – yes you
We all know we should be drinking water, right?
I mean, our bodies are 60% water, it makes sense that we would need it to survive.
However, simply knowing we should doesn’t automatically mean we are.
Apparently, only 22% of the US population drink over the recommend amount.
As a general rule of thumb, most adults should be drinking around two litres of water every single day.
When you start drinking enough water, amazing things happen. Your skin clears, your hair feels healthier, your digestive system works properly, and that weird headache you always seem to have? Totally gone.
Daily health habits for emotional and mental health
Self-care is so underrated as a habit for health and happiness.
Self-care is basically the act of taking care of your mental, physical and emotional needs, and it’s crucial that you implement it into your everyday life as a positive habit.
This can mean simply keeping up with a personal hygiene routine or it can mean taking a long, warm bubble bath to relax at the end of a stressful day. Whatever self-care is to you.
Learn to spot when you’re becoming stressed and deal with it as it occurs, every day.
Keeping a regular self-care routine should also help PREVENT stress from getting on top of you.
#7. Repair your relationship with food
While I do recommend getting a balanced diet full of whole, nutrient-dense foods, as well as not-so-nutrient-dense foods that we enjoy, if you’re not already doing this I also recommend trying to fix your relationship with food.
People who eat ‘normally’ don’t often need to be told HOW to eat normally. They just do it.
If you’re someone – like me – who has a pretty rocky relationship when it comes to food, weight loss, diets, eating and mental health, I want to recommend that you start working towards intuitive eating and ditch the diets.
Studies now show that diets cause massive amounts of stress, guilt and anxiety, which impacts our mental health. And our bodies aren’t actually designed to be in a calorie deficit (a.k.a. a diet); doing so takes its toll on your body.
Diets often lead to disordered eating, such as binge eating, bulimia and/or anorexia.
Oh yeah, and only 5% of dieters will actually keep their weight off long-term! So what’s the point?
You’re much better off learning to honour your hunger cues, eat food that makes you FEEL good, and throwing out the scale!
#8. Redirect negative self-talk
Negative self-talk, putting yourself down, and pessimistic thinking can negatively impact your mental health and happiness. And for obvious reason!
A lot of the time, we’re our own bullies. The way we speak to ourselves, particularly about our appearance, is AWFUL.
Can you imagine speak to a friend or loved one the way we talk to ourselves?
You just wouldn’t!
…Unless you’re an arsehole.
It’s no wonder that we hate ourselves so much when all we do is put ourselves down every chance we get.
It can take work, but if you repeatedly find yourself standing in the mirror and being cruel about your appearance, make it a habit to correct yourself. Redirect negative thoughts as soon as they pop into your brain – don’t let them fester and grow legs.
With time, you’ll gradually rewire your thought processes.
#9. Be productive – in your own way
I used to think that being productive meant getting a s***-ton of tasks ticked off by the end of the day.
If I didn’t, I would feel awful about myself – like I’d completely wasted a day.
However, with time (and age), I’ve started to be kinder to myself and realise that being productive can simply be resting, if that’s what my body needs.
It can be sitting down with a tea and watching that Netflix show you’ve been meaning to get around to; chatting with a close friend for hours; or simply laying in a horizontal position staring into space.
If that’s what you need to feel content in that moment, do it.
#10. Do something you’re passionate about
We all have passions we want to pursue or hobbies we want to keep up with.
Mostly, these passions, are something that we REALLY want to do and involve setting (and smashing) goals.
We also usually enjoy them.
With this in mind, a healthy daily habit to get into is working toward your passion everyday. Even if it’s only for half-an-hour while your dinner cooks or on your lunch break.
Working towards our passions and solving problems to achieve us goals is the real way to find happiness.
#11. Learn to say no
Saying ‘no’ is a powerful habit when it comes to our own happiness.
So often, we’ll say ‘yes’ to people to make THEM happy – not us. And, while the two can be linked, ultimately, you need to put yourself first.
Instead of taking on more work from a client because you’re afraid to say no, even though you’re snowed-under, politely decline (or, of course, raise your rates hehehe.)
If you really don’t want to go to that social event because you’re not feeling up to it or simply can’t be bothered, then DON’T. Stay home, watching Netflix and relax for the evening.
Learning to say no is empowering as hell – give it a try!
#12. Start a solid morning routine
Starting your day off right is amazing for our happiness.
It sets the tone for the rest of the day, puts your best foot forward, and makes you more productive.
Your morning routine should include everything that makes YOU feel happy, healthy and motivated. Not what someone else tells you.
For example, if you don’t want to wake up at 5am like most personal development ~gurus~ recommend because waking up when it’s still dark outside depresses you, you don’t have to.
Wake up when you feel ready, rested and most productive.
As long as you’re consistent with your morning routine and it makes you happy, you do you!
#13. Practise gratitude
Practising gratitude, i.e. being grateful, has been proven to improve mental health and mindset.
Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on what you’re grateful for. What CAN you do, instead of can’t. What’s GOING to happy instead of what isn’t.
#14. Get in the habit of talking about your mental health
A healthy habit to get into is learning to talk about how you’re feeling to the people around you.
Learning how and why you should express your emotions is not only really great for your mental health, it also makes you a better friend, partner or family member.
Talking helps alleviate the pressure your emotions might be putting you under, get a second opinion (if you want one), and help you look at how you’re feeling a little more objectively.
This helps you to unpack and process your emotions much easier.
If therapy is accessible to you, I would recommend looking into this too.
#15. Start a journal
Journaling has been nothing short of life-changing for my mental health and mindset.
It’s by far one of the best habits I’ve ever implemented for my emotional health.
Stuff I journal about includes:
- Journal prompts
Like journaling, meditation has been a great habit for my wellbeing.
It helps clear and settle my mind, even if I’m feeling super-anxious.
If you can get into the habit of meditating for only a few minutes every single day, you’ll soon see the benefits.
#17. Repeat affirmations
Affirmations are great for boosting self-esteem and confidence.
They’re basically self-affirming statements that we repeat in order to reprogram the way we think about ourselves.
I write mine in my journal every morning and repeat them in my head any time I’m met with negative self-talk.
Give it a try and see what you think.