This post is sponsored by Wahl Wellness. All opinions are my own.
Every year when the calendar flips to January, people start thinking about developing healthier habits. And to be honest, most of them are pretty miserable or extreme – like giving up sugar or running every day if you’re not a runner. But developing healthy habits doesn’t have to suck the joy out of your life. We’re here to show you that developing healthy habits can actually be enjoyable and sustainable.
When you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it long-term. Most of us make too many not-so-fun changes all at once, usually revert back to old behavior and end up feeling miserable in the process.
What I’ve come to know: small changes that are enjoyable, can equal big results! Taking simple steps each day with healthy habits you actually like is more sustainable and will help you reach your goals without giving up.
So, I’ve come up with six fun and healthy changes you can make this year that are totally doable and will help you establish healthy habits for years to come.
My recommendation? Focus on one or two to start with, and once you’ve gotten into a routine add another. Keep building on small steps until you’ve accomplished more than you ever thought possible.
1) At-Home Massage
The trend of at-home massage has been gaining traction recently and for good reason. The active lifestyle that many of us have come to adopt is great for your health, but it can also take a toll on your body.
One way to keep up with your active routine is make massage part of your daily life, as studies link it to muscle recovery. Hand-held massagers meet the demand for a natural treatment option, and the best part is you can use them in the comfort of your home, making it a much more convenient and affordable option than regular visits to a massage therapist.
The benefits of massage include:
- Relieves muscle tension by enhancing blood flow, which causes muscles to relax
- Decreases inflammation by activating genes that naturally reduce swelling.
- Reduces pain intensity by diminishing bodily substances that create and prolong pain.
- Improves recovery by stimulating mitochondria, the “energy packs” driving cellular function and repair.
Not to mention massage feels amazing and is highly enjoyable!
2) Become a Walker
So many times when people jump back into exercise, they start with something intense right out of the gate: HIIT, kickboxing, or Cross Fit. And while I love each of these forms of exercise, sometimes starting a little slower is better both for your enjoyment and for sustainability.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise out there; it’s true! It’s free, it’s low-impact, it can be done indoors or outdoors, plus the health benefits of walking are phenomenal.
A regular walking routine can:
- reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke
- reduce body fat and aid in weight loss
- improve your balance
- strengthen your muscles and muscle endurance
- ease joint pain
- boost energy
- improve your mood
- help lower your blood sugar
- and more!
Walking can be truly enjoyable and boost your overall health for years to come. Get out in the fresh air, grab a walking partner and enjoy one of the most basic and best forms of exercise out there.
3) Adopt A Dog
Speaking of walking, did you know that people who own a dog spend about 200 more minutes each week walking than people who don’t own a dog? It’s true, not only do you get a new best friend when you adopt a dog, but you also can improve your health.
Dog owners were also found to:
- live a longer life
- have lower stress levels
- have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- have a decreased risk of allergies and asthma in children
- have lower blood pressure
Not to mention the amount of joy and companionship you get when you get a dog. Now that’s something all of us can get behind.
4) Start Meditating
Meditation is truly a habit that so many people find to be not only enjoyable but also critical to their mental health. Despite what some people think, meditation is not tied to any specific religion. It’s simply a practice you can use to calm your mind and feel more at peace.
The power to dial down the chaos of life simply by being present is a gift. And this gift is not only for you, but for everyone you come into contact with—your family, friends, co-workers and even the people driving on the road.
When you become in tune with yourself – your emotions and thoughts – you are able to act more thoughtfully instead of simply reacting to everything around you. You can choose how you want to handle a rude comment or a stressful project as opposed to just getting caught up in it without realizing it.
In addition to promoting a general sense of calm, meditation offers some amazing health benefits that have been studied and documented throughout the years. WebMD lists several science-backed health benefits of meditation, including the fact that meditation can:
- lower blood pressure
- help you sleep better
- boost your immune system
- improve concentration
- improve your physical and emotional response to stress
- decrease inflammation and pain
- decrease anxiety and depression
- improve memory
- reduce stress
New to meditation? Check out our beginner’s guide here.
5) Prioritize More Sleep
Who loves sleep? Pick me! But I get it, sometimes it can be hard to get enough.
I know I promised to talk to you about habits you’ll enjoy, so I’m going to make this one easy on you. I’m proposing just an extra 15 minutes to half hour a night. I’m telling you, it can make a huge difference.
So many of us don’t get an adequate amount of sleep and the consequences are serious. Besides feeling tired and low energy, a lack of sleep causes low productivity, inflammation in the body, increased appetite (which makes it hard to lose weight), a higher risk of serious conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and more.
So what’s it going to take for you to catch a few more z’s? Maybe it’s not procrastinating on a work deadline or not waiting until the end of the night to finish those chores. Or maybe it’s time to put the devices down.
So many of us crawl into bed with our computers and phones and before you know it, we’ve been staring at the screen for an hour.
Whatever you need to do, try to find a way to get just a little extra sleep and in the morning, you’ll be so happy you did. And I’m pretty sure once you get a taste of how a solid night of sleep feels, you’re going to want to sustain this healthy habit for the long-term.
6) Drink Up
Keeping hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your health and one of the easiest too. But it’s not always the most fun thing to commit to.
That’s why I have two fun ways to take your water game to the next level:
- If you’re the more competitive type, or even just someone who loves to check things off your list, then my genius water bottle hack is for you. Essentially, it’s a checklist right on your water bottle to track how much water you should drink and by what time of day. Click on the picture below to read the full explanation.
- If sipping plain water just isn’t your thing, how about flavoring it up with some DIY flavor infusions. Once you throw some delicious fruits and herbs into your water, it’s easy to sip it down and actually enjoy it while you do it. Check out all of my favorite water combinations here.
Staying hydrated helps you stay energized and helps all of your body’s systems work better. Drinking enough water can also keep you from over-eating; believe it or not, sometimes when you think you’re hungry, your body is actually trying to tell you that you’re thirsty. So try one of the above hacks to drinking more water and you’ll have a lasting habit you can feel good about.