If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, it may be time to shake up your daily routine and help your body feel energized again. And you’ll be pleased to know that this doesn’t require an entire overhaul of your life. In fact, adopting just a few healthy daily habits can make all the difference in the world. (Great news for those of us who happily identify as lazy.)
A lot of these tips support physical health, but remember the power of the mind-body connection. Implementing daily healthy habits that benefit your body has a positive ripple effect on your mind and soul as well. As you’ll discover after you try a few of these, it’s often the small changes that make the biggest difference.
Tiny modifications here and there can greatly improve your quality of life in so many ways. We already know all the obvious options that keep us feeling our best, but there are plenty of tweaks that can be easily embraced without a lot of effort. We’re all about taking a proactive yet realistic approach toward creating a well-lived life—and these healthy daily habits will help you get there. Let’s dive in.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
40 Healthy Daily Habits to Bring Into Your Routine
Track it All With a Habit Tracker
No matter what habit you’re trying your hand at, a habit tracker is an efficient and structured way to keep track of your daily responsibilities. This monthly habit tracker is simple and doesn’t require more than a pen or pencil to be on the road to a happier, more organized life. It’s free to download and allows you to list several habits and your daily progress throughout the month. Ready to make your dream (goals) a reality? Grab the habit tracker for yourself above!
1. Make Time to Read Every Day
Not only is taking time to read an act of self-care, but it can actually help improve long-term neurological function. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fiction junkie, love to read memoirs, or just want to disappear in a good old-fashioned romance novel—your body and mind will thank you for it.
2. Go on a Walk
Breathing in some fresh air while on a walk is sure to improve your mood, clear a muddled head, and offer a moment away from the computer. It’s also an incredibly underrated form of exercise that can strengthen your heart and lungs, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, improve high blood pressure and high cholesterol, ease joint pain, and much more. Put it this way: Walking is a simple, fun, and low-impact way to improve your overall health.
Fall asleep faster, improve blood flow, and relieve muscle tension with a few simple stretches before hitting the hay. After a day of being hunched over a computer, hauling groceries, and generally pushing my body and mind to their limits, few things feel better.
If you’ve been searching for a surefire way to help reduce stress and anxiety, quiet a buzzing mind, or simply want to go deeper within, give meditation a whirl. I know you’ve heard it before (and as a longtime meditation skeptic, I really do hate to admit this), but it does make a positive impact on one’s well-being.
5. Use Sunscreen Daily
Regardless of whether it’s a sunny day or not, using sunscreen daily is imperative for both short- and long-term health. Preventing sun damage and cancer is not something that should be taken lightly, and there are so many effective sunscreen options available that you can easily find the one that best fits your skin type and needs. Please don’t make me nag you about this!
6. Spend Time Outside Every Day
Get a breath of fresh air and chase away the blues by spending even just a few minutes outside every day. There are few things that being around some trees, people watching, and looking at the clouds can’t cure.
7. Drink More Water
Did you know that even being mildly dehydrated can affect the body? Make sure you’re drinking enough to get you through the day without impairment (psst… it may be a little more than the eight glasses you’ve been hearing about). The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups a day for men and 11.5 cups a day for women.
8. Get a Little Cardio In
Strengthen your heart, lower blood pressure, improve your sleep quality, and so much more with regular cardiovascular exercise. And this isn’t just relegated to workouts! Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of hopping on the bus, or do jumping jacks between Zoom sessions. Even better, throw on some music and dance it out on your lunch break. Everything helps!
9. Eat More Plants
While being fully vegan or vegetarian is not an option for all, incorporating more plant-based foods into your meals can make a big difference to one’s health. Plant-based foods are full of fiber, minerals, and vitamins that our bodies crave and need. Bonus: They’re delicious!
10. Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol Consumption
Whether you are wanting to redefine your relationship with alcohol, are looking for help quitting, or trying to drink more mindfully, cutting back is almost always a good idea. Reducing alcohol intake can lead to better sleep, mental clarity, weight loss, and lower the risk of heart and liver disease, cancer, and strokes.
11. Ride Your Bike to the Store
Dropping off some mail? Picking up a few ingredients for dinner? Ditch the car and hop on your bike for some chill cardio. Even just 30 minutes on a bike can help build endurance and strengthen your heart. It’s also a great way to clear your mind and enjoy being outdoors. Just make sure you don’t forget to wear a helmet!
12. Cook More
I learned how to cook in my late 20s when I realized that not being able to feed myself was no longer cute. But it took me well into my 30s to understand the joys of cooking at home. Aside from the obvious health benefits (ability to eat a healthier diet and cook with good, fresh, high-quality ingredients) it simply makes me happy! It’s time away from a screen when I can listen to music and create something nourishing and wholesome from scratch.
13. Don’t Forget to Floss
There are few things that are worse on planet Earth than having to floss one’s teeth. The fact that I have to do it every day until I die is an abomination. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly important for one’s overall health. Yes, it’s obviously key for gums and teeth, but did you know that flossing helps heart health? If you’re not an everyday flosser, commit to a month of mindful flossing before bed. Once you make it a healthy daily habit, you won’t be able to imagine skipping it.
14. Create a Consistent Exercise Practice
Getting your body moving here and there is great and certainly better than nothing. But having a regular workout routine is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. It is good for sleep quality, anxiety, and stress, lowers blood pressure, improves cardiovascular and bone health, and more. The list truly goes on and on. Find a workout that best fits your lifestyle and schedule and commit to it. You will be amazed by how good it feels.
15. Swap Sugary Desserts for Fresh Fruit
Listen, sometimes you just need a cookie or a piece of cake. And since life is long and hard, you should definitely have it. But if you have been in a habit of eating sweet treats for dessert then it may be time to start mixing it up with a bit of fresh fruit. You get that palate-cleansing burst of sweetness that we all need after a savory meal but without the added sugar overload.
16. Swap Your Coffee for Green Tea
Coffee is a delicious gift from the earth and we can’t get enough of it. That said, replacing it with green tea can come with a whole bunch of health benefits (while still giving you a caffeinated kick!). It can help reduce inflammation, has antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, promotes fat burning, and more.
17. Pick Up a New Hobby
Whether it’s learning a new language, knitting, trying out a new sport, or volunteering, finding a new hobby is a great way to take some time for yourself on a daily basis. It helps expand mental muscles, gets you out of your comfort zone, is a great opportunity to meet new people, and comes with a renewed sense of well-being and confidence. We’re never too old to learn something new.
18. Get Enough Sleep
We all know that awful feeling when we’re sleep-deprived. It’s hard to focus, our bodies feel depleted, and our moods suffer greatly. But did you know that a lack of proper sleep can lead to weight gain, reduce productivity, and leave you at a greater risk for heart attack and stroke? Prioritizing sleep is an absolute must.
19. Limit Processed Foods
Sometimes, processed foods are unavoidable. But whenever possible, eating fresh, wholesome food makes a big difference for our general health. (And it’s delicious!) Processed foods contain a lot of hidden sodium, fats, and sugar that can throw your body out of whack. Your body will thank you.
20. Try Facial Rolling or Gua Sha
This delightful form of self-care not only feels good but also has numerous benefits. It wakes up your skin, stimulates the lymphatic system, and helps with inflammation. Just a few minutes of me-time can set the tone for a happy, healthy day, so why not?
21. Sit Down With Your Journal
Carving out a few minutes in your day to free-write your thoughts is such a healthy practice. Journaling helps you stay in touch with your thoughts and feelings, which can keep them from bottling up and eventually exploding (we’ve all been there). Save yourself the emotional rollercoaster by journaling every day. You won’t regret it!
22. Make Connections
For me, connecting with people is life’s greatest joy. And it’s something that’s so simple but often forgotten in our busy day-to-day. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget to reach out to those around us, which is totally normal and not something to beat yourself up over.
That said, it’s important to connect with the people around us. And it can be as easy as a quick phone call to a loved one or as intentional as a handwritten letter to an old friend. However your connections look, they’re one of those healthy daily habits I think we could all use a little more of.
23. Do Something for Yourself
Maybe there’s a new TV series you’ve been dying to start, or you’re in need of a manicure/pedicure. Or maybe you could use some good old fashioned afternoon zzz’s. Whatever you’re in need of, now is the time to make it happen. Doing something for yourself every day keeps you in touch with your mind and body, which can lead you to a happier and healthier lifestyle.
24. And Something for Those Around You
I love to start each day with the intention of doing one thing for myself and one thing for someone else. It can be as simple as delivering bedside coffee to your S.O., sending one of those “checking in, hope you’re having a great week” texts, or writing a happy note to pack in your kiddos’ lunch boxes. Small acts of service like these always put a smile on other people’s faces, which is another one of life’s joys you really can’t have enough of.
25. Listen to a New Podcast
I know I may lose some of you by saying this, but I haven’t always loved podcasts. When I was first introduced to them, I wasn’t overwhelmingly impressed—which left a bad taste in my mouth and resulted in a “podcast boycott” for a while. It wasn’t until I actively sought out topics and people that interested me that I began to appreciate someone talking in my ear for hours at a time.
Starting a new podcast can inspire you, push you outside of your comfort zone, and ignite new passions. A podcast is a great way to feed your mind and soul, which is never a bad idea. If you need a place to start, check out our editors’ list of feel-good podcasts.
26. Develop A Morning Routine
Once I had a solid morning routine in place, I started looking forward to waking up (even if it was at an ungodly hour). Implementing skincare, hydration, mindfulness, and a healthy and balanced breakfast into your mornings can have a huge impact on how the rest of your day will turn out.
Social media can often do more harm than good when it comes to our overall happiness. It’s a great place to share accomplishments, feelings, thoughts, and memories. However, we often find ourselves comparing our realities to others’ posts on social media. This lowers confidence which can then lead to more unhappiness and insecurity. Taking a bit of time off of social media and really getting to know yourself is one of the best ways to become happy in your own skin.
28. Cut Out Inflammatory Foods
Inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors—one of which is the food we consume. There are many foods that can increase inflammation in our body, and while all inflammatory foods cannot be avoided, many can be swapped for healthier options that will lessen the negative impact on our bodies. A Mediterranean diet is a great way to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods—such as salmon, avocado, and olive oil—into your meals.
29. Take Breaks in Your Daily Schedule
Whether you work from home or from an office—taking breaks is necessary to sustain optimal levels of focus throughout the day. We’re simply not built to sit and stare at computer screens all day. Instead of staying glued to your chair for eight hours or more, try moving your body every half an hour or hour for ten minutes. This will make sure your muscles stay active, and your brain-to-body connection is strong.
Whether it be in the workplace, at a yoga studio, or online, finding a community can play a huge role in sustainable happiness. On bad days, a community can help bring positive energy or a spark of inspiration into your life. Not only can a community help you work through your immediate emotions, you just might learn something from your peers.
31. Clean Regularly
Keeping your space organized and disinfected can instantly boost your mood. No more dreading your work days in a cluttered space—we’re turning our homes into our sanctuary. Introduce an oil diffuser to your office, keep cleaning products on hand, and tidy up at the end of each day.
32. Focus on Your Posture
This little habit can make such a difference in your long-term confidence. Start to be more conscious about your posture while sitting at your desk or at the dinner table to better your posture throughout the day. Also, doing shoulder stretches and exercises can prevent your neck and shoulders from cramping or tiring while sitting for long periods of time.
33. Start Thinking About Meal Prep in Advance
One of my favorite weekend activities is cozying up on the couch and brainstorming a list of meal ideas for the week ahead. This allows you to create an accurate grocery list before getting to the store which will help you budget and save money on food in the long run.
34. Make Your Bed
Like the critically acclaimed memoir, Make Your Bed says—this small habit can ensure that your mind is focused and your space is neat before your day begins. I’m a firm believer that making my bed (no matter how much I don’t want to) starts my day out on the right foot as the first step in my morning routine. It allows me to feel accomplished as soon as I wake up, which leads me to then have a more productive morning.
35. Stick to a Budget
It’s no lie that money can’t buy happiness. I know— it may seem that a new outfit or a new cup can alter your mood, but at the end of the day, your happiness comes from within. Overspending will force you to neglect to do things you love and sacrifice time with family for work. Tracking your spending habits is a great way to monitor your finances and budgeting throughout the month.
36. Incorporate Vitamins and Supplements Into Your Diet
Supplements can make all the difference when it comes to your diet. Prioritizing vitamins such as ashwagandha for stress and magnesium for sleep and PMS relief allows you to get the proper rest and relaxation needed to boost happiness.
37. Color, Paint, or Draw
Having an outlet of creativity is a great way to activate a different part of your brain and think outside of the box. Try free-hand painting with no expectations of a result, or invest in an adult coloring book to take with you on the go for any moments of inspiration.
38. Try Something New Each Week
Mix up your schedule, try a new restaurant, or walk a different path. Who knows—you may find something unexpected or witness a random act of kindness! To break free from a cycle of unhappiness, you need to reach beyond your norm.
39. Be Present
Being present in everything you do—whether that be spending time with friends or meditating alone—is key to finding happiness. If you live in the present moment without dwelling on the past or pondering about the future, you’ll find that everything you’re presented with is an opportunity to embrace that happy moments that are right in front of you.
40. Seek Happiness In Everything
Smile at someone on the sidewalk, leave a tip for your favorite barista, or lay on the floor with your pet for a few moments. Wherever you are and whatever you do, find some bit of happiness within every situation you encounter.
This post was originally published on August 2, 2021, and has since been updated.