Ever wake up one morning craving a reset, perhaps after an indulgent holiday season or long weekend? If so—and you aren’t alone—you might have found yourself looking for a new habit you could take to support your overall health. In that case, we’ve got good news and bad news.
“There are no hacks,” says Sarah Sarkis, a licensed psychologist and executive coach who works in the wellness realm. But, she adds, “there are some practices you can participate in that, with consistency, will yield really significant results for you.”
Before we get into those practices to incorporate throughout your daily life, let’s step back and examine what it means to be well.
What is a Healthy Lifestyle?
Big picture, Sarkis sees wellness as a wheel with five spokes: nutrition and hydration, sleep, movement, stillness, and connection (to others and yourself). And, in terms of tending to wellness for long-term success, she recommends looking after at least three of those facets at all times.
Similarly, W. Christopher Winter, a neurologist and sleep specialist and author of The Rested Child, defines health as controlling all the variables in your life that you can. Think: getting adequate sleep, regular exercise, healthy eating, and looking after your mental health. According to Winter, being in good health is doing those four things diligently—without obsessing over them.
And, like Winter, Matt Berenc, CSCS, VP of education and programming at Forme, also believes balance is part of what it means to be well. In other words, he thinks wellness extends beyond taking care of yourself physically to include things like maintaining a social life and cherishing your cultural background.
Below, Sarkis, Winter, and Berenc offer tips to support your total overall health—all of which you can start implementing today.
4 Healthy Lifestyle Tips
- Ruthlessly edit your relationship with social media.
Sarkis advises asking yourself the following question: How does it change the way you feel about yourself when you’re on social media for too long? Then, she says, edit that relationship. That could mean putting a cap on your scrolling time or boxing in the times of day you use certain social networks.
You could also consider a temporary break: A study published in May 2022 in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that taking just a one week break from social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok) resulted in improved well-being, depression, and anxiety.
- Audit your sleep.
Both Sarkis and Winter can get behind this tip: If “you want to be a better eater, a better exerciser, a better sleeper, you need to get good information about it first,” Winter says, referring to both general knowledge and knowledge of yourself.
“If you have a wearable device, collect 30 days of data about your standard sleep practices,” Sarkis advises. “Don’t change anything—get information on it, and then make a plan to fix where it’s going off the rails.” She notes that chronic lack of sleep impacts every part of our being. For instance, according to Cleveland Clinic, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with obesity, worsened immune system function, diabetes, and heart failure, among other things. (Read more about how much your sleep is worth here.)
As for what tools you might need to audit your sleep, Winter notes that software has come out for Apple Watch that allows you to track sleep (plus, it can link up to the Paceline App and help you log elevated heart rate minutes).
When you do have your data and it’s time to improve your sleep, Winter has some ideas for the perfect pre-bed routine, like dropping the temperature and turning down the lights (preferably keeping only one dim light on) about an hour before bed, using some lavender pillow spray, and having a cup of chamomile tea right before you go to sleep. He also advises limiting alcohol consumption, caffeine, and TV before bed.
- Start a mindfulness practice.
Sarkis says that it’s wise to explore a mindfulness practice. “But notice how careful I am,” she cautions. “I’m not saying meditation. I’m not suggesting you have to do breath work. Find what works for you to decompress, and do it more days than not.” Why? She says such a practice will pay off in terms of things like energy, mood, and adequate sleep. For instance, a study published in 2018 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that nurses who participated in a mindfulness-based training and had higher attendance reported greater energy levels after performing a demanding test of their attention. And a 2019 study in Ecopsychology found that being mindful in nature may be beneficial for your mood.
- Set a workout routine that works for you.
“From the amount of time you’re committing to it, to the exercises you select, to the type of workouts you do, to when you do the workouts, everything should fit you versus you fitting it,” Berenc advises. “Because that’s what’s going to ultimately lead to it being part of your life.” He adds that people will often try to take up physical activity they think they should be doing and set themselves up to dread their workouts.
Of course, while it’s not one-size-fits all, exercising also isn’t a free-for-all. In other words, there are some general guidelines to consider: You should aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities every week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can learn more about how much exercise you need each week here. If you enjoy cardio based exercise, check out our article with tips for new runners. If you’re more interested in strength training, we also have an article outlining weightlifting tips for beginners.
4 Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Start Now, According to Wellness Pros is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as financial advice.