How to Integrate Healthy Habits Into Your Daily Life

January 2022
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Tara Parker-Pope, author of The New York Times’ newsletter “Well,” looks back on some of her favorite healthy habits and talks about how to improve health, fitness and well-being in the New Year and beyond. 

First, she recommends asking yourself: “What time of day do you feel your best?” It may be the morning for some, or evening for others. Instead of spending your best hours checking emails, catching up on work or doing other household tasks, “try giving that time to yourself instead,” she says. “Use it to focus on your priorities, rather than someone else’s.” Work on a hobby, finish a project you’re passionate about, spend time with your family kids or volunteer — this is the ultimate form of self-care.

Rather than thinking of exercise as a “formal activity we have to do for an hour at the gym each day,” short bursts of physical activity can be effective as well. This can be walking while on the phone, doing lunges or jumping jacks, or climbing the stairs.

Try taking one photo a day of something special in your life. Similar to a gratitude journal, this can be a way to sit with feelings of thankfulness or a way to share them with others. Savor, notice and appreciate the people, places or things that make you happy.

Check in with yourself each day to see how you’re feeling. Use specific words like “uneasy” or “energetic” instead of just “OK” or “fine.” By labeling your emotions, you can calm yourself and lower your stress response.

An easy way to calm yourself, no matter the situation, is a five-finger breathing meditation. Trace the outline of your hand with your index finger, breathing in as you go up one finger and breathing out as you go down the next. Then reverse directions.

You can also make a plan with a friend who shares your health goals to meet up at least once a week for a walking date, or check in daily via text or phone regarding healthy eating ideas or another project. Having a friend for accountability and support can be a big help.

Here are a few habits you can integrate into your daily life to improve your health and well-being:

• Give the best hours of your day to yourself.
• Enjoy exercise “snacks.”
• Take a gratitude photo.
• Print a “feelings” list.
• Do a five-finger meditation.
• Make it easy.
• Find a health buddy.

Return to Current Issue Navigating the Year Ahead | January 2022
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