The lifestyle choices you make may impact your physical health, mental health and wellbeing. Many of us want to make better choices and have a healthy lifestyle, but we often find it hard to get started. So how can we start implementing a lifestyle change to improve our overall health?
What is a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy lifestyle can include:
- Eating healthier
- Exercising more
- Finding ways to manage stress
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Connecting with friends and family
- Getting a good night’s sleep
Once you have decided on the lifestyle change you want to make, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Below are some ideas to help you start making healthy lifestyle changes that can last.
Tips for creating a healthy lifestyle
Figure out why you want to make the change
It helps to work out why you want to make the lifestyle change. For example, if you decide to eat healthier meals, ask yourself why you want to make that commitment. Try to be as explicit as possible: I am committed to eating a healthy meal every day, as I want to have more energy, be more alert at work, and get a better night’s sleep.
Look for easy ways to make the change
Think about easy ways you can start to make a change to your lifestyle. For example, if you want to eat healthier, you can add more vegetables to your regular meals. Or suppose it is to do more physical activity. In that case, you can find ways to be active that already fit into your life, such as gardening, getting off the bus one stop early, spring cleaning your home, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Break your goal into smaller steps and plan
If you are struggling to start, try breaking your goal into smaller steps. For example, if your goal is to exercise more, you can start small by deciding to walk more often. Then you can begin to plan: the shoes you will wear, the days you will go for a walk, and the route you will take. You can also plan for any barriers or reasons not to go for a walk. For example, if you’re often tired at the end of a workday, can you walk during your lunch break instead? If you don’t have a lot of time available, can you go for a 15-minute walk? Planning and adding the activity to your calendar can help to make it part of your routine.
Talk to your family and friends about the change you want to make, as they can help you start and maintain your lifestyle changes. For example, you can meet a friend for a run, try cooking new healthy recipes with your children or join a group with the same goal. Having a support system, whether in person or online, can help to keep you motivated.
Give yourself a reward
Now that you’ve started implementing your healthy lifestyle change, is there something you can do to reward yourself? You can think about something you enjoy like spending more time reading a book, watching your favourite TV show, or playing a sport with your friends. The reward can be simple and doesn’t need to cost anything.
If you’re struggling to cope, it’s essential to talk about your feelings and ask for help. The first and often hardest step is acknowledging there is a problem and asking for help. Reach out to friends, family, your GP, or a trusted health professional. You can also phone CAREinMIND on 1300 096 269 to speak to a counsellor.
The CAREinMIND blog is delivered by On the Line. The views in each post do not necessarily reflect those of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.