Fall is in the air; and with cooler temperatures, kids heading back to school, and beach season coming to an end, you may feel the urge to get reorganized and kickstart some new, healthier habits. While it’s fun to indulge in the leisurely vibes of summer – replete with BBQs, beers, and birthday cakes – it’s often a welcome change to get back into a more consistent rhythm of self care that, ultimately, makes us feel better.
The process of creating happy habits is about doing little things every day that contribute to a healthier, more balanced, and, therefore, happier you. However, without a plan and a system in place, it is easy to revert to habit default mode. A system works because it provides a structure within which you can track and visualize your progress.
As well, it is important to decide specifically what makes YOU feel happy and healthy, rather than take cues from external influences that can point you in a less optimal direction.
So, let’s get to creating some new healthy and happy habits!
What do you want to happen?
In terms of creating new habits, the most important thing is to, first, decide what you want to happen. For example, you may have a specific fitness goal, or a goal to get more fit in general. On the other hand, your desired outcome might be related to reducing stress or having more fun. Maybe you want to feel less tired, or spend more time connecting with people. Perhaps all of the above!
When contemplating what you want to happen, remember that your goals are YOURS for whatever reasons YOU choose, and you don’t have to justify them to anyone.
How Will You Do It?
The next step is to identify specific habits that will move you in the direction of your identified goals. Fitness goals will generally correspond with physical activities and dietary changes, while goals related to getting better sleep might correlate with less obvious habits, like setting better work/life boundaries, shutting off access to electronic devices, and refraining from eating after a certain time.
A goal related to reducing stress might mean committing to a daily meditation, doing more outdoor activities, spending time with pets, or introducing a volunteer activity that helps boost your morale and connection to your community.
Track and Check
The last but not least step in creating your happy habit system, is to document your new habits in a spreadsheet, checklist, or mobile app, and try to accomplish as many of them as you can (as appropriate) on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis.
Rather than having to think about what to do each day, reference your habit tracker and choose the activities that seem the most fun and easy. Give yourself a check mark every time you complete a habit to monitor – and celebrate – your progress.
Here are a few categories to consider as you build out your happy habit checklist:
In the Consume category, it’s much easier to add in healthy eating/drinking habits than it is to cancel habits that are less healthy. That is why your Consume category can include healthy and happiness-inducing consumables like fruit smoothies, raw salads and vegetable juices, herbal teas, and healing concoctions with apple cider vinegar, turmeric, citrus, and ginger.
Getting lots of nutrients in may also help curb addictions to stimulants, processed sweets, and alcohol.
The movement category is all about the ways you will move your body to generate endorphins and ensure that you do not spend too much time in a seated position.
Rather than (or in addition to) traditional gym workouts, moving can be accomplished through short micro-workouts dispersed throughout your day, including but not limited to: neighborhood walks, spontaneous dance parties, extra flights of stairs in your home or apartment complex, bouncing on a rebounder, exercise bands, wall sits, hanging on a pull-up bar, or floor stretches.
Little movement habits done consistently can go a long way to support both fitness and mobility to keep us feeling well.
Activities in the Relax category are tailored toward rejuvenating self care and feel good/look good habits that can be as basic as spending some extra time on hygiene through skin-brushing, oil-pulling, or a facial scrub, making time to spend at your favorite spot in nature, or lying down in a quiet space for a meditation or savasana. Here, you might also consider taking breaks from your electronic devices, which have a tendency to amp up your dopamine response.
Engage Relax habits when you need to decompress and empty your cup.
Create habits inspire our creative inner child to express itself in ways that benefit both our personal and professional lives. Examples of activities in the Create category include a free-writing practice we call “Paging,” filling your visual cache with new imagery by spending time in nature, taking in the sights and sounds of a new place, or watching a visually-engaging movie, or artistic pursuits that can include photography, painting, collaging, or coloring.
Create habits provide an outlet for the expression of our true self without the pressure of judgement.
Summary + Free Template
Between Consume, Move, Relax, and Create, there are ample ways to think about what new happy and healthy habits you can engage to get a jumpstart on your goals this fall – and we created this simple 1-month template so you don’t have to!
What habits are you working to create?