Feel like you’re in a rut? These healthy habits will get you feeling happy, healthy, and motivated.
In the face of recent global challenges, many of us have found ourselves out of our daily routines and lacking motivation. It’s easy to wonder “How can people stay healthy when there’s so much going on in the world?” The goals we set for ourselves at the start of the year feel like a distant memory, and our exercise shoes have been gathering dust in the cupboard for months.
With the world finally entering a new ‘normal’, there’s no better time to hit the reset button on your wellness routine. So, how do you get out of a rut and start feeling more like the best version of yourself, again? Read on for 10 practical tips to stay happy, healthy, and motivated — no matter what life throws at you.
Your morning has the power to set the tone for the rest of the day. When you kickstart on a positive note, it ignites a sense of motivation and momentum. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to create an elaborate, one-hour morning routine. But, rather than reaching for your phone first thing, consider instead doing something that energises you such as going for a walk, doing some stretching, or listening to empowering music. Even a habit as simple as making your bed has been found to set you up for a happy, healthy, and motivated day!
Often, we fall off track with our goals because they feel too overwhelming and insurmountable. They feel so far off in the distance that we don’t even want to take the first step. To prevent this, it’s important to break big goals down into smaller monthly, weekly, and even daily milestones. For example, if you had a health goal to run 10 kilometers, you could set the intention to run just 100 metres further per day. While this may not sound like a lot, with small, incremental progress, you’d hit your 10K goal in no time!
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Transport your mind back to when you were a kid. You likely didn’t have to try too hard to move your body — you just followed what you felt like doing in the moment. Even as adults, engaging in play is a great way to inject some fun and excitement into our routines to help up stay happy, healthy, and motivated.
Think about some of those activities you participated in as a child just because you enjoyed them (not to achieve a particular goal.) Climbing, swimming, and dancing can all be great ways to get active while also evoking that sense of childlike joy.
While motivation is nice to have, we can’t always rely on it. It’s a limited resource that depends on our energy level, time commitment, and other factors. When motivation fails us, it’s our daily habits we fall back on! This is what gets us to go to the gym, eat healthy, or practice learning a language, even when we don’t want to.
Research shows it takes around 66 days to form a positive new habit. So, until it becomes second nature, it can be helpful to track your habits — ticking them off each day when you stick to your task. This cue makes it much easier to stay on track, as it’s a visual reminder of how far you’ve come already.
Don’t underestimate the power of music in shifting your mood! Countless studies have proven it has a measurable effect on our emotions and motivation. Whether you need to pump yourself up to go to the gym or get in the zone to focus on work, there’s likely a Spotify playlist to get you there. A good vibes playlist full of upbeat music is also a great way to start your mornings on a positive note.
When it comes to the things that help us stay happy, healthy, and motivated, it’s easy to fall into an ‘all or nothing’ mindset. We often feel like if we miss a day exercising or eating healthy, that we’ve fallen ‘off the bandwagon’ and should quit together.
However, this approach makes it hard to stay consistent, and sets you up to fail. What’s far more effective and sustainable is to start small. By committing to one healthy habit each day — even if it’s as small as five pushups, drinking a green juice or doing one minute of meditation — it makes it much easier to stay on track, long-term. Plus, those small steps can add up to big progress over time!
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As the age-old expression goes, a change is as good as a holiday. When you find yourself in a rut, one of the most effective things you can do is inject some novelty into your daily routine. This can help give you a fresh perspective and reinvigorate your excitement. For example, if you’re bored with your workout routine, you could try a new exercise class. Or, if work is becoming monotonous, you could take a new route on your commute, or explore somewhere new on your lunch break.
Every habit — whether positive or negative — is accompanied by four things: a cue, craving, response, and reward. This chain reaction is what causes you to perform a behaviour and repeat it over and over again until it becomes deeply ingrained.
The good news is, you can hack your healthy habits by starting with the cue. This is the stimulus that makes you want to perform a certain behaviour and reminds you to do so every time you see it. Say, for example, you reach into the snack drawer at 4pm. Instead of a chocolate bar, you eat an apple — until eventually, that’s what you begin to crave at that time each day. Or, if you like to sit in a certain spot in the mornings, keeping a journal handy might encourage you to build a daily writing habit. The key is to make it as easy as possible for yourself to see and respond to these cues.
Practicing mindfulness is one of the most powerful self-care activities you can do. It forces you to get out of your ‘monkey mind’ and focus on the present moment — rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Not only does it foster a sense of calm, but research shows it makes us happy, healthy, and motivated.
That said, not everyone has time to meditate for 30 minutes every day. Luckily, while meditation is one way to practice mindfulness, it’s not the only way. Sneaking in mindful minutes throughout the day can be just as effective, and far more realistic for most.
This could mean spending a minute sitting alone with your own thoughts before you get out of bed or doing short breathing exercises throughout your workday. Or, it could simply be paying attention to your senses while doing a mundane activity like washing the dishes or having a shower. The important thing is that you’re allowing yourself to stay in the ‘now.’
Many of us have spent more time indoors over the last year than we have in decades. This alone can have a negative impact on our mood and motivation. Spending time outdoors is one of the easiest ways to get adequate amounts of vitamin D. Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, this gets absorbed through the skin and has been found to be important for mood and energy levels. The good news is, you can still keep it sun safe. Five to fifteen minutes each day while wearing sunscreen is still enough to reap the benefits.
No matter what your goals are, these healthy habits are sure to set you up to be happy, healthy, and motivated in every area of your life.
Words by Emma Norris