Whether you are healthy and want to stay well or are ill and want to recover, establishing daily health habits is a blueprint for success.  Many health habits can be practiced effectively a few times a week, but others—like drinking pure water—best occur on a daily basis.

Here are some steps to help you get started on establishing your own daily health habits or to fine-tune ones you may already have in place. My own daily routine is also shared to stimulate your own thinking about daily health habits suitable for you.

Preliminary steps to establishing daily health habits

1. Making the time
There’s no way around the fact that daily health habits take time.  A new routine automatically requires letting go of some of your other activities.  Since most of us already feel there’s not enough time or space in our day, this is a very easy place to get stuck.  In fact, many people are never able to get off the ground with a new habit because they are never able to make the time. Sound familiar?

To conquer this obstacle, take some time to consider and then list which activities you are willing to drop for the sake of your health goals.  You need to make a conscious choice or the tendency to put new health ways on hold may continue forever.  Spend a few days observing how your spend your time and which activities are expendable.  Then make a list and, at least, a 30-day commitment, to forgo one or more of these endeavors.  It makes sense to pinpoint ones that are counterproductive to health like watching too much television, surfing the internet endlessly, or working too much overtime.

Please don’t skip this step—it can indeed make the difference between success and failure.

2. Ease of implementation
Which health habit will be easiest for you to implement? Which one will bring you the quickest sense of joy and satisfaction?  Dieting, for example, is not easy for most people.  Start with easier goals, the ones that will make you feel a sense of satisfaction soon. Then move on to the more challenging ones.

3. Small steps

People often have a burst of enthusiasm at the beginning and then quickly let a new habit fall by the wayside.  To avoid this adverse result, start with small steps.  For example, if you are trying to eliminate a food from your diet, reduce the amount you eat by 1/3rd.  When you are acclimated to the change, reduce the amount by another 1/3rd.  When you are ready, let go of the last 1/3rd.  If you are trying a new exercise routine, start with 10-15 minutes a day and gradually increase your time allotment.  This will also save you from soreness, pain, and unnecessary injuries that can occur when you dive too rapidly into a new exercise regime.

4. Communicate your plan

Communicate your plan to your family and friends and ask for their support.  Carve out the time you need in concert with your family or significant other.

5. Partnering up with a friend

Partnering with a friend is an excellent method for success.  For example, walking everyday for 30 minutes at lunch with a friend is usually more fun than walking alone.  It will also give you the impetus to get moving on days when you feel resistance.

6. Set realistic goals

It’s better to start with just one new health habit and have it firmly in place, rather than starting with a long list, becoming overwhelmed and not accomplishing any of them.  I’ve always liked the SMART formula for goals. SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

7. Be creative

There are many ways to work around the challenges of a busy lifestyle.  For example, taking the stairs at work or parking your car in the far lot and walking are simple ways to increase daily movement and may only take 5 or 10 minutes of extra time.  This may be far easier than committing to an hour-long exercise class.

8. Use the power of visualization

Visualize your future self as you will look and feel after implementing your new daily health habit. Consider creating a “vision board” of the new you using photos and words from magazine articles on health. Use words that energize and inspire you like:  trim, fit, energetic, cheerful, healthy, muscular, strong, and so on.  If weight is a goal, place your ideal weight on the vision board too.  Then place the vision board in a prominent place.  Or write a letter to yourself filled with encouragement and a description of how you will look and feel by implementing the new habit.  Read it every morning or in the evening before going to bed.

The important point is to visualize the new you each and everyday in one way or the other.  A vision board or a letter to yourself can help that process, but neither is required.  A simple visualization is powerful in and of itself.

My daily health habits

To stimulate your thinking, here is a list of my daily health habits for nourishing body, mind, and spirit.   Some have been in place for years.  Others are new this year.

1. Physical activity – One to two hours of any combination of Chi Gong, gardening, and walking.  To avoid prolong sitting, I also aim for 5 minutes of movement in any given hour.

2. Good food – Eating organically grown produce and avoiding packaged and denatured foods, sugar, and alcohol.

3. Meditation – I incorporate regular meditation every morning and evening.  This includes a range of practices, not only sitting meditation.  I also integrate mindfulness and awareness into my daily activity.

4. Positivity – Pruning negativing from my life, practicing positivity, and surrounding myself with positive people.

5. Avoiding environmental chemicals and synthetic fragrance – This is a necessity for me. In my opinion, it is also a wise move for anyone given the dramatic increase in diseases triggered by toxic chemicals affecting both young children (including babies) and adults.

6. Eating mindfully – This habit hasn’t been easy for me to adopt at all.  I tend to rush through meals or allow my mind to churn away in the past or future.  Eating mindfully includes creating a peaceful setting for eating, giving thanks for my food, taking a deep breath before eating and continuing to breath through my meal, putting my fork down between bites, and, very important, chewing thoroughly until the food is liquid.  Chew 30 times if you are well and 50 times if you have digestive problems; this is the standard recommendation.

7. Drinking pure water – We are on a catchment system and hence have a whole house water filtration system.  However, you can find less expensive stand alone ceramic filters for drinking water and bath balls to filter bath water.

8. Managing stress –  Stress isn’t good for any one, but often we don’t see its pervasive health impact until years down the road. I’m currently taking an intensive look at my own stress patterns and learning to dissolve stress reactions when they arise.

9. Winding down before bedtime – Allowing 1-2 hours for stimulation-free, relaxed time before sleep.  This is also a challenging habit for me to create as it is tempting to continue on projects right smack up until bedtime.

It hasn’t been easy for me to establish healthy habits.  It something I’ve had to consciously choose, work at consistently, and recommit to again and again. Am I able to accomplish all the above every day?  Not always, but I don’t fret about it.  I just do the best I can.  Have I fully established all these positive habits?  I can answer a hearty yes for some of them like meditation.  Other ones are still a work in progress. With the help of a clear plan though, I am steadily making headway.

Please share your thoughts on establishing daily health habits.  Which healthy habits do you cherish the most?  How do you overcome obstacles to staying on tract with your newly formed health habits?

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