Forming Healthy Habits

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are an entire month into the new year.  Chances are the resolutions we promised we would keep this year are already by the wayside.  The daily walks, extra vegetables, journaling and personal reflection time, and book clubs are fizzling out, and our old ways are settling back in.  With the best of intentions, we all set out to make big changes to better ourselves, but generally lack in following through with these goals.

If the “New Year, New You” attitude has already worn off, but you still have the urge for self-improvement, there’s no need to wait another eleven months to take action.  In fact, you don’t even have to wait for a Monday.  The best time for self-improvement is now!  Small, steady changes lead to substantial, long-term results.  Set your mind to it and push towards a better YOU with these healthy habit-forming tips.


Make a Plan

Identify the areas that are dragging you down or having a negative impact on the person you want to be.  Look for unhealthy patterns and make a plan to reverse them.  Your goals can focus on any areas where you feel improvement would be beneficial to your overall well-being.  People often focus on nutrition and physical health, but our mental, social, and spiritual health are equally as important.  Start with a small, achievable goal and create steps to help you along the way.  Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.  For instance, if your goal is to read a new book each week, then you must set yourself up for success.  Begin by creating a list of books you’d like to read, set aside a designated time each day, and create a cozy and inviting space to read.


Create a Support Team

Surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart and will cheer you on along the way.  Positivity breeds positivity (and, adversely, negativity breeds negativity), so be mindful of the company you keep.  Share your goals with those who will encourage you to stay on track and even motivate you to better yourself.  You can even take it a step further and invite others to join you.  Perhaps your goal is to perform 20 minutes of physical activity each day.  For added support, recruit a walking buddy to help you achieve your goal.


Track Your Progress

Consider keeping a journal, chart, or other visual aid that allows you to see and reference your progress.  Record how things are going, making special note of not only progress, but also struggles and successes along the way.  Recognizing the highs and lows allows you to tweak your plan to achieve the greatest level of success.  If weight loss is your goal, consider using a jar filled with marbles (one for each pound you intend to lose) in a visible area.  Each time you lose a pound, remove a marble.  This visual aid will serve as a reminder and a motivator to keep pushing forward.


Envision Your Future Self

When you set your goal, think about why it is important to you.  What results do you want to achieve by working towards this goal?  How will it improve your day-to-day life?  Take the time to answer these questions and then sit back and envision what life may look like once you’ve worked toward your goal.  If you feel isolated and yearn for more socialization, set a goal to take a weekly art class, volunteer in the community, join a Bible study, or engage in some other type of consistent activity where interactions with others are guaranteed.  The mental health benefits of socialization for seniors are endless!


Treat Yourself

Everyone appreciates a good pat-on-the-back when they’re doing a good job!  If you’re reaching small milestones towards your bigger goal, take a moment to recognize your success and reward yourself in some way.  Have you exercised daily for an entire month?  Job well done!!  Reward your feet with a little pampering and book that pedicure.  You’ve completed four new books in the past month? Celebrate with a book club and encourage others to sharpen their cognitive abilities through reading!  The rewards can be as simple or elaborate as your budget allows and as you see fit.  The idea is to celebrate yourself and keep the excitement going.


Give Grace

Sometimes we struggle to put one foot in front of the other when trying to reach our goals.  The intentions are there, but we experience some difficulty along the way.  Setbacks happen, but do not allow them to discourage you; instead, try learning from your mistakes, or shortcomings, to help you push forward.  Be patient and know that it takes time to make improvements.  Strive for progress and not perfection, showing yourself some grace along the way.