Living a healthy life is often the key to living a happy life. However, during this uncertain time, it can be tempting to take up a bad habit or revert to unhealthy ways of living.

It’s time to rethink that can of soda, put down that cookie, and rethink your daily bedtime because your everyday unhealthy choices could cause devastating consequences to your mental and physical health in the long run.

Here are 14 healthy habits you should start implementing today:

1. Moderate Your Alcohol Intake

While drinking alcohol is okay in moderation, excessive alcohol can cause damage to the heart muscle, risk of cancers, and cirrhosis of the liver. Moderate drinking is identified as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

2. Quit Smoking

The health risks associated with smoking are widely known. Quitting today can equate to a vast improvement in your long-term health. A study found that in five years, your risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage decreases by 59%. Quitting smoking also helps improve your body’s natural energy production, circulation, boost your immune system, and has many other benefits.

To reduce the anxiety of quitting and get a fresh start , try out a new hobby that challenges your mind and body. Hone your cooking skills, take up crocheting, start a scrapbook, build a piece of furniture, take a photography class, or practice the art of dance. The options are endless, and you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish and how much better you will feel. 

For additional resources and help to quit smoking, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

3. Boost Your Immunity With Healthy Eating

Eating healthier, more balanced meals can not only prevent obesity, but it can also give you much-needed vitamins and minerals. Many foods can even boost your immunity, helping you fight off or prevent infectious diseases.

Try to replace one unhealthy snack per day with a creative, healthier option. For instance, instead of eating an oatmeal cookie, swap it with a small bowl of oatmeal with flaxseed and berries. 

Here are a few other healthy eating tips to get started:

  • Incorporate greens and lettuce into your meals. 
  • Focus on colors, not calories.
  • Freeze your fruits and vegetables to make them last.
  • Don’t overeat or stack your plate full; eat only until you are full.

4. Don’t Skip Meals

While it’s important to eat healthily, it is just as important to eat, period. Eat foods that are high in fiber and protein to keep you fuller longer and energized. Starting the day out right with a hearty, healthy breakfast can help you eat better overall. Aim to eat a filling breakfast, medium lunch, and light dinner. But try to avoid those midnight snacks or heavy desserts!

5. Drink Plenty Of Water Per Day

The health benefits of staying hydrated and drinking more water are nearly endless. Staying hydrated can help you avoid fatigue, headaches, and can make you more productive and focused. We recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Get a reusable water bottle and have it on hand to encourage regular water drinking. 

If you are an avid soda drinker, you can start by replacing one soda or carbonated beverage with a glass of water instead. Continue this process until you are drinking primarily water, treating sodas or other drinks as more of an occasional dessert.

6. Incorporate Simple Exercises Into Your Daily Routine

An effective workout doesn’t require a gym membership or special equipment. The recommended daily exercise amount is 30 minutes per day, which you can accomplish all at once or in intervals throughout your day. Even taking a short lunchtime walk around your neighborhood is sufficient. In fact, a study showed that taking a 30-minute lunch break walk can battle the afternoon slump, reduce stress, and enable individuals to stay alert to cope more easily with their workload.

Here are a few other ways to up your daily exercise:

  • Do yoga or pilates before starting your day.
  • Do push-ups during commercial breaks. 
  • Do lunges in between conference calls. 
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator, if applicable.
  • Take the dog for a walk.
  • Do sit-ups before going to bed at night.

7. Take a Few Minutes for Meditation

With a greater need to reduce stress and lower anxiety these days, meditation is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its ability to help keep you calm and grounded. Just as the symptoms of a virus can be extremely taxing on your body, so can stress and anxiety on your mental health. Take time to relax and recharge with meditation, even if it’s for just a few minutes each day. 

Need a few tips to help you get started? Download our Guide to 3 Stress-Reducing Meditation Practices You Can Do at Home.

8. Turn Off Electronics 1+ Hour Before Bed

Numerous studies have touted the negative impact of screen time on your health. From binge-watching the latest TV series and playing video games to scrolling on your phone for endless hours, too much screen time can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health. Some studies have found that too much screen time can cause a number of diseases including diabetes, as well as lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide. 

Try limiting your screen time more and more each day, and cutting off-screen time entirely at least an hour before you go to bed at night. You might find this also helps you sleep more! We also recommend swapping out some of those hours you spend watching shows or playing on your phone with something active instead.

9. Go to Bed 30 Minutes Earlier

How many hours of sleep do you get each night? Experts recommend between seven and nine hours per night, which is considered a marker of good heart health. However, chances are, you are lucky to get six or seven hours of sleep max. In fact, many people don’t get the recommended amount of sleep per night. Solid sleep gives you more energy to tackle the day, as well as helps with healthy eating goals. Start by going to bed 20 to 30 minutes earlier each night until you are receiving an adequate amount of sleep and establish a solid sleep schedule

10. Wear Sunscreen

While vitamin D is good for you, failing to put on sunscreen or take necessary precautions when in direct sunlight can increase your risk of developing skin cancer or cause long-term damage to your skin.

Getting some fresh air and sunlight right now is essential for your mental health, but make sure you take precautions. Wear a hat and sunglasses, put on SPF 30 or higher, and try to walk or sit in the shade when you can.

11. Don’t Weigh Yourself Every Day

According to the World Health Organization, being overweight increases your risk of stroke, osteoarthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers. While it’s important for your health to monitor your weight and body mass index (BMI), it’s also important for your mental health not to weigh yourself every day.

Aim to weigh yourself once per week at most, on the same day, same time, and wearing the same amount of clothing for consistency.

12. Prioritize Self-Care

You need to take some time for yourself each day, even if it’s only for a short time. Everyone deserves some alone time, whether you have a house full of kids or a house full of pets. We know this is difficult at a time like this, so alone time might require your spouse stepping in to help or maybe your alone time happens in the evening after the kids’ bedtime. 

Take 30 minutes to do something you enjoy. Practice meditation or take on a new hobby (as mentioned in our above healthy habits), or try something completely new. Give yourself some self-care in the form of a bubble bath. You could also go for a drive, take a walk, tinker in the garage, paint your nails, bake something fun, do a quick craft, take a power nap, or read a chapter or two in your book.

13. Practice Good Posture

Good posture can prevent everyday aches and pains, as well as reduce stress on your joints and ligaments. Your body language also correlates to your mindset. A slouchy body can equate to sluggishness. 

Each day, set reminders to sit up straight. Attach Post-It Notes to your computer, set an alarm, or simply task yourself with sitting straight through at least one meeting per day. Continue this until good posture becomes part of your everyday routine.

14. Call a Loved One

Now more than ever is the time to regularly check-in on your family and friends. Call your parents, send a letter to an old friend, FaceTime your grandparents, text your best friend — do whatever you can to stay connected during this time of physical disconnect. Your mental health, and the mental health of your loved ones, will thank you!

14 Habits to Implement for Better Physical and Mental Health