Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
5 Healthy Habits Worth Adopting Today, According to Wellness Pros
Written by: Michele Ross
On a mission to look and feel your best? Instead of going from zero to 100 and creating highly ambitious goals, we invite you to take a closer look at your daily habits and take things from there. To support your journey towards greater well-being across the board, we asked leading wellness experts in nutrition, mental health, dermatology, and more to suggest healthy habits worth adopting today. Best of all, while they’re simple enough to integrate into your everyday routine, they yield seriously impressive results if you stick to them on a consistent basis.
1. Eat more plants
It goes without saying that eating a balanced, plant-rich diet offers massive health benefits. “Research shows that people who eat more plants have a reduced risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers—and they may even live longer,” Whitney English, MS, RD, of Plant-Based Juniors shares. “They also may have a healthier microbiome thanks to all that good plant fiber,” which lends itself to benefits including but not limited to better digestion, stronger immunity, and improved skin health.
Better yet, you can still rack up wellness wins even if you don’t fully commit fully to a plant-based diet. “The good news is that it isn't all or nothing; every bit of plant-based eating is beneficial,” English explains. She continues to share that—as is the case with establishing any healthy habit—it’s perfectly fine to start small so you can stick to your new and improved regimen with ease.
“Try replacing one meal a day with something rooted in plants—such as oatmeal and berries for breakfast or a tofu scramble, a tempeh bacon sandwich for lunch, or lentil bolognese for dinner,” English suggests. She also leaves us with one final recommendation: “Focus on what you're adding to your plate (more fruits, more vegetables, more whole grains)” rather than what you're taking away to maintain a mindset of good health and abundance.
2. Be mindful of your “energy finances”
If you feel like you’re always running on empty, it’s time for a self-audit so you can be strategic about spending your time and resources on things that provide real value to your life. “When I am working with clients struggling with burnout, I will walk them through an exercise to think of personal energy like deposits and withdrawals in a bank account,” begins psychotherapist and leadership expert Daryl Appleton, Ed.D, M.Ed, CAGS, LMHC. “Understanding our ‘energy finances’ can go a long way when we need to stretch that proverbial emotional dollar.”
She invites you to ask yourself which relationships, activities, items, and lifestyle choices actually offer a good return on your investment. “This could be the animal shelter you volunteer at, your favorite cosmetic product, or the love affair you have with your local coffee shop,” Dr. Appleton continues. “Identifying what is a ‘value add’ in your life can be a reminder to be more present in those moments while also being an asset to know where to turn when you are feeling low.” At the same time, you’ll want to investigate what’s actually draining your “energy finances” and start to remove them from your life—whether it’s a toxic relationship, a bad habit, or anything else that’s standing in the way of achieving the joy and the well-being you deserve.
3. Prioritize movement in any form
Next, when it comes to your fitness regimen, it’s important to recognize that any and all movement is good for you—even if you can’t make it to the gym or your favorite boutique fitness class. “Movement is medicine,” shares NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness instructor Alexandra Daniels. With that said, you’ll be best-served if you ditch an all-or-nothing mindset. If you think that you have to stick only to intense workouts to reap the benefits of exercise, she wants you to think again. “Movement doesn't mean killing yourself in the gym daily,” but rather moving your body in whichever form works for you on that day.
“This could be hitting a 10,000 step goal one day, doing 20 minutes of fun mobility work the following day, and doing some strength training the day after that,” she continues. Mixing it up and listening to your body can help you avoid feeling weighed down by the burdens of strict fitness goals and lofty expectations. Plus, this new, flexible healthy habit will still pay off in spades to support your long-term health. “All of the research being done right now shows a direct correlation between daily movement not only fending off chronic disease, but also increasing performance and longevity in all other areas of life," Daniels adds. Simply put, every step, stretch, sesh, and sweat counts, so keep moving whenever you can.
4. Start training your brain
Just as physical fitness is essential for your overall health, so is brain fitness. But how many of us actually train our brains regularly? (Psst: It’s time to start!) “Brain training offers numerous benefits, the most significant being a reduction in stress and anxiety, improved sleep, and being more present,” explains Patrick K. Porter, PhD, an award-winning author, brain researcher, and the founder of BrainTap©. Even better, you don’t need to rely solely on puzzles, word games, and other stimulating or complex activities to reap the benefits of this healthy habit. Instead, Dr. Porter suggests adopting simple brain training exercises that “will help stimulate the vagus nerve, which tones your nervous system” to calm down your mind and body while still supporting your mental health and cognition.
To kick off your new brain training regimen, Dr. Porter recommends practicing controlled breathing: “Breathe in through your nose for the count of five, hold the breath to the count of six, and breath out through your mouth for a count of seven.” In addition, he suggests practicing visualization before catching your ZZZ’s. “Visualize the body releasing stress [you’ve] accumulated throughout the day as you breathe out, which will trigger the nervous system to relax and unwind for deep, restful sleep,” he shares.
5. Don’t forget to exfoliate
Finally, when it comes to achieving your healthiest and brightest complexion yet, board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD, FAAD, reminds us of one essential skincare habit that deserves a spot in our routines: exfoliating.
“I think that everyone should exfoliate with a chemical exfoliant at least three times per week,” Dr. Hartman shares. Integrating this healthy skincare habit into your routine will help to brighten your complexion, even your skin tone, prevent breakouts, reduce signs of premature aging, and allow your makeup to sit better (among many other benefits).
While Dr. Hartman mentions that a retinoid or retinol is the gold standard to encourage skin cell turnover, he acknowledges that not all skin types can tolerate these potent products. In that case, he recommends using “a hydrating alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) like glycolic or lactic,” or opting for “a facial cleansing brush—preferably one with silicone bristles that are gentler on the skin and reduce friction and abrasiveness.” He also notes that you may want to use an exfoliating scrub once a week “to provide the final polish to the skin to get rid of excess debris and dead skin cells.” No matter which option you choose, start slowly to avoid potential sensitivities and work your way up to a more consistent exfoliating routine to get your glow on.