The importance of healthy habits for a better life

Woman with bowl of healthy oatmeal with fruit and nuts on her lap as she sits on a bed

Learn about the importance of healthy habits and how to kick-start your journey towards a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life.

Do you struggle to prioritize your health?

While we know it’s important to take good care of ourselves, we’re often putting other people’s needs first.

And let’s be honest.

Life throws so many demands our way. It’s exhausting to even contemplate finding the time and energy to invest in our own self-care.

The thing is—healthy habits matter.

Your health matters, mama.

It’s the foundation you need to live your days—and years—to their fullest.

This post is for you if you’re eager to invest in your wellbeing but are in need of a gentle push.

You’ll learn about the importance of healthy habits and how to fit more self-care into your busy days.

Ready to dive in?

Top photo shows healthy breakfast of granola and fruit and bottom pin, a woman running outside with text overlay stating "The importance of healthy habits for a better life"

What are healthy habits?

Healthy habits (also referred to as health or lifestyle behaviours) are the actions we take on a regular basis to promote our wellbeing.

Over time, these behaviours can become second nature. For example, teeth brushing is likely something you just do rather than have to plan into your days.

Generally speaking, health behaviours can be categorized into two broad categories: physical and mental health.

For example, eating a nutritious diet, staying physically active, not smoking, getting enough sleep, and drinking in moderation are behaviours that promote our physical health.

Activities such as mindfulness, learning to manage stress, practicing gratitude, spending time with others, and keeping our brains engaged by learning are behaviours that bolster our mental health.

However, the categories of physical and mental health are not cut and dry. Many lifestyle behaviours benefit our physical and our mental wellbeing rather than just one or the other.

For example:

  • Sleeping well helps prevent illness, but adequate slumber also helps us more adeptly deal with stressful situations.
  • Eating nutritious meals make it more likely we’ll live longer, but healthy food also helps keep our minds sharp.
  • Exercising regularly increases your energy, but movement also improves our mood.  

This is great news!

It means that starting our self-care journey gradually (i.e., with a single healthy habit) can have positive impact on multiple aspects of our wellbeing.

We’ll learn more about the far-reaching extent of this impact below.

Woman going for a run in nature as example of the importance of healthy habits
Photo by gradyreese

The importance of healthy habits

Together, our healthy habits set the foundation for a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life.

A wealth of research shows that health behaviours help us:

  • Fend off infectious illnesses and disease
  • Maintain a healthier weight
  • Live longer
  • Feel more energetic
  • Be more productive
  • Feel more satisfied with our lives

In fact, lifestyle behaviours account for a whopping 50% of our overall health. The other half is determined by our genetics (25%), our environment (20%), and our access to health care (10%).

While we have limited control over access to health care and our environment—and we can’t change our genetic make-up—there’s still a significant chunk of our health up for grabs.

We want to make that 50% count!

But with so many healthy habits to potentially choose from—where do we start?

Happy mother and her small son having fun while touching with noses in autumn day.
Photo by skynesher

Which healthy habit to focus on first?

We busy moms already suffer from enough decision fatigue. Adding in yet another choice—even an important one about our self-care—can seem daunting.

But basic guiding principles can help you choose where to put your precious energy first.

Start by asking yourself—what healthy habit will give me the highest wellbeing payoff?

For example, if sleep is an issue, this health behaviour is worth prioritizing. Getting a good night’s rest is fundamental to all aspects of wellbeing—including our mood, energy level, ability to think clearly, and relationships.

Many mamas also find improving their nutrition and getting regular physical activity does wonders for their physical and mental health. So these are other areas of wellbeing worth prioritizing first.

Beyond these physical health habits (i.e., sleep, nutrition, physical activity) there are many other ways to invest in self-care.

For example crafting, journalling, reading, practicing mindfulness, time in nature, connecting with loved ones, taking social media breaks, and even getting things accomplished off your to do list—are all great health behaviours.

Ultimately, what best lifts each of us up—and maximally impacts our wellbeing—is personal. What works for me, or another mama, may not work well for you.

It can be hard to drown out the noise around self-care—all those outside opinions about what “should” make us feel better.

But now is a great time to push what others think aside and figure out what works best for you.

This is your personal journey, mama. Not anyone else’s.

A woman journal and drinking tea by an open window as an example of the importance of healthy habits
Photo by MundusImages

Action step:

Consider what self-care activities help you feel your best. Perhaps this is walking, preparing a healthy meal, or journaling.

And if you can’t immediately think of anything that lifts you up, you’re not alone! Busy mom days can leave us on survive rather than thrive mode.

Gift yourself with some non-negotiable personal time to come up with a list of preferred self-care activities.

Try observing how you feel throughout the day to help get you started. Which activities, even small ones, help you feel better? Then consider prioritizing those health behaviours first.

When it comes to healthy habits, small changes matter

As we’ve covered above, a single health behaviour can have wide-ranging benefits to our wellbeing.

And there’s further good news.

Even small changes in a single health behaviour can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.

We can liken this process to building a snowman.

At first, all we have is intention—whether that’s creating a snowman or building a better life. But then we take action.

We gather snow together and start rolling. And with each push, the ball grows and grows until eventually, we have the foundation for something so much bigger than the initial snowball itself. And on that now well-established base we slowly but surely see our vision realized.

Fostering health behaviours works in a similar way.

We start with the desire to build a better life. Each small deliberate step towards that life builds on earlier ones. And before we know it, we’re well on our way to a happier, more confident version of ourselves.

Ultimately, this is a message of hope and encouragement.

That you, mama, have the power to shape your health for the better. And that it all starts with small steps. No herculean effort required!

Woman making a snowman in winter time
Photo by Satura_

Action step:

What’s the next small step can take to improve your self-care? Start by reviewing your list of preferred health behaviours generated in the last action step.

Perhaps this next step is doing a home workout a couple times weekly, batch cooking a healthy meal on Sundays, or reading two nights a week after the kids are tucked into bed.

Once you’ve selected a self-care activity to work on, you’ll want to set a related, small, specific, and doable goal.

Setting a health goal and developing related healthy habits is hard work!

If you need more help with this process, check out my post on setting a SMART goal. It’s designed to help busy moms, like you, take meaningful action in their lives.

Get started on a healthy habit now!

In this post, you’ve learned about the importance of healthy habits. That behaviours under your control can help you lead a longer, more productive, and fulfilling life.

This is great news, but it comes with a catch.

It can be frustratingly difficult to find the time for self-care activities.

Fortunately, even little steps matter when it comes to improving our health. And these small, gradual steps are easier to get started and to sustain in the long-run.

So, begin small with a health habit that’s personally meaningful.

And move forward with an attitude of loving kindness towards yourself.

Change is hard.

But take heart knowing you’re 100% worth the investment!

I’d love to hear from you!

Many of us know about the importance of healthy habits but struggle to make changes.

What has gotten in the way of your journey towards better self-care? What has helped?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.

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