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4 routines to create new, healthy habits

Let’s face it, new year’s resolutions rarely work, even though we may start out with good intentions. According to experts at Psychology Today, some of the main reasons why many new year’s resolutions fail is due to:

  • Not valuing them enough – Your value system needs to be attached to the resolution for you to stick to it. For instance, if you don’t see the true value of exercise, you may not be motivated to get to that early morning HIIT class before work.
  • Being too focused on the outcome – If you only consider the result without setting smaller, more achievable milestones to get there, you may lose motivation and drive.
  • Setting big goals that aren’t achievable – While it’s great to challenge yourself, setting goals that are too big could end in unrealistic expectations and failure, which in turn will affect your confidence.

Build onto existing habits and routines

Behavioral scientist, Dr Susan Weinschenk also believes that for a new year’s resolution to work, it’s important to create new habits or routines to support the resolution, so that you can stick to and replace existing habits with new ones.

Then, you must attach the new action to an existing habit or routine. For example, if you’d like to run your first 5km or 10km race and you’re already walking three times a week, it’s easier to simply add some bouts of jogging or running to your existing walks and build on that routine, rather than switch to running straight away.

It’s also wise to focus on smaller, “bite-sized” goals to keep you motivated along the way. So, if your plan is to drink more water or eat healthier, consider just drinking an extra glass of water after each meal, and switching your usual white bread for wholewheat, or cut down on your sugar intake gradually, rather than cutting out all your favorite treats at once.

Rather than resolutions, focus on building new routines that’ll best serve you this year. We consider these 4 routines to be fundamental to your overall health and well-being:

1 Create a healthy sleep environment

Sleep is vital to all healthy functions in the body and affects everything from your mood to your hormones, weight, mental function and immune system. Before you set out to get more shuteye (which is quite tricky for some people) start by changing your sleep environment to encourage relaxation and set the mood for a good night’s slumber.

Switch from scrolling on your phone to reading before bed (no more blue light), sprinkle a few drops of a natural sedative such as lavender oil on your pillow 30 minutes before you sleep or massage a drop or two on your temples, and try a calming meditation before bed to help you wind down. By creating a new sleep routine, you’ll automatically set yourself up for good-quality sleep.

2 Cut down on your supplement regime

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3 Try a few healthy food swaps

open sandwich

Rather than setting yourself up for failure and following a super restrictive diet, one of the quickest and more sustainable ways to maintain a healthy weight and keep your blood sugar levels stable is to build a healthy meal or snack routine by switching a few of your favorite junk foods, treats or snacks with healthier, tastier options.

Try switching:

  • Buttery potato mash with sweet potato mash
  • Oily crisps with lightly salted popcorn (minus the oil)
  • Red meat with lean chicken or fish
  • Carb-heavy, white bread sandwich with an open sandwich on rye
  • Sugary cereal bar with a banana
  • Traditional sweets with berries dipped in a little dark chocolate
  • Choc chip cookies with yogurt coated rice cakes
  • White rice or pasta with brown/wholewheat rice/pasta
  • Traditional chocolate milk with a berry smoothie

4 Bring down your stress levels

women hugging and smiling

After relaxing over the festive season, we’re pretty sure you don’t want to start the new year feeling stressed and frazzled, right? Research shows that tackling new tasks with a calm mind and positive attitude makes jobs much easier to accomplish.

Researchers at Berkley University suggest the following new routines to calm your mind in stressful times:

Breathe more

Sounds simple, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to calm your nervous system and regulate your emotions. No matter where you are and what you’re doing, take the time to stop and take four slow, deep breaths. Then, hold for a second and breathe out for a count of six to eight.

Love yourself more

Did you know that being self-critical increases your chances of feeling anxious or depressed? To feel calmer, quit your normal habit of negative self-talk and start speaking to yourself in a warm, kind way. Try to give yourself grace when you make mistakes.

Connect more with others

By this, we don’t mean over WhatsApp or social media… we mean really connecting with someone on a deeper, more personal level. Being present with others automatically helps to calm the mind and lower your stress levels, so make a point of organising coffee dates with loved ones.

Move your body

We can’t emphasize this enough. Simply moving your body daily, rather than sitting for hours behind a screen, has a multitude of benefits for your mind, body, and soul. Create a new routine of getting out in nature for your exercise session and you instantly have a double benefit!