10 Small, Healthy Things You Should Do for Yourself Every Day
These tiny, daily tweaks can make all the difference to your health.
The idea of being healthy all the time, every day, sounds extremely time-consuming, doesn’t it? Life is busy enough as is, and it’s impossible to function under the aspirational standards of fitness bloggers and wellness gurus (they’re not perfect, either, by the way).
On the other hand, don’t we all deserve to feel great and keep our bodies happy and minds clear? The good news is that you don’t need to make a lifestyle 180 to be your best self—all it takes is adopting a few small, healthy, consistent habits you can take with you through the rest of your life. We went to some experts for the simplest and most actionable tweaks you can make to your everyday routine that will keep you energized, fabulous, and all-around healthier.
Find one small way to add more steps to your day.
Extensive research finds that we humans sit too much, and Martha Gulati, MD, editor-in-chief of the American College of Cardiology's CardioSmart, confirmed this for us. Get closer to your 10,000 daily steps—and boost your heart, mental, physical health—by switching up just one daily routine: Park at the end of the office parking lot; get off the bus or subway one stop earlier and walk the remaining distance; deliver a message in person rather than IMing a coworker; or take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator (even if you can only manage one to two floors on foot). Be active as much as possible.
Just be—even for five minutes a day.
Pure Yoga instructor Alison O’Connor believes in spending time alone every day. “Taking a few minutes for yourself—away from social media, work, entertainment, and anyone who demands something from you—can go a long way toward mental health.” Ditch technology and make you your priority.
Make sleep a top priority.
“Sleep is one of the most essential activities of the human body. It's while we sleep that our body is most efficient at recovering and healing itself,” O’Connor says. The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep in order to be the best version of themselves: focused, even-tempered, energized, and making healthy and responsible choices. Getting enough sleep also helps stave off depression and keep stress hormones at bay, preventing overeating, crabby moods, succumbing to sugar cravings, and inflammation. In short, do yourself a favor and prioritize sleep.
Refill your water bottle.
Most of us don’t drink enough fluids (and no, wine doesn't count—the alcohol is dehydrating!). Water is, quite simply, essential. It helps your skin look fresh, flushes toxins from your body, helps maintain healthy bowel functions (goodbye, pesky bloating), and keeps muscles from fatigue. You’ll be shocked how different you feel when you start making hydration a nonnegotiable daily habit—it’s satisfying, energizing, and free. If you don't already own one, invest in a cute reusable water bottle, fill it up frequently, and make it your new best friend. (And here’s how to clean it so it’s sparkling clean every time you use it.)
Take a few deep breaths.
You can attach 60 seconds of focused, uninterrupted breathing to any other daily habit that's already part of your routine. According to Dr. Gulati, remembering to pause periodically and spend one full minute focused on deep breathing and positive energy can help you cope better with anxiety and stress, since it calms the sympathetic nervous system, which activates when stressed, and helps ground you in the present.
Wear something you love.
Feeling confident and happy can come from knowing you look good, says Forever Freckled stylist Carrie Greenberg. "Fall in love with your wardrobe again by repurposing,” she says. “Dust off classic pieces and consider investing in some great new accessories.” Make it a point to wear something that makes you feel fantastic every single day. When you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin, you exude warmth and confidence to others, which makes them feel good, too. In a way, if you dress for yourself, you’ll be dressing for others without even trying.
Make something in the kitchen.
Home-cooked meals are more than a way to express your creativity and save money (instead of paying for takeout or restaurant meals), says New York–based personal chef and fitness instructor Alyssa Gagarin. “Only by cooking your own food can you be sure you’re eating real, whole, unprocessed foods," Gagarin says. "It gives you full control over what’s going into your body.” Load up on fruits, veggies, whole grains, eggs, meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, and legumes—and stop eating once you’re full.
Deliberately choose a healthy ingredient.
Even if you aren’t able to prepare your own meals, Dr. Gulati suggests mindfully choosing at least one healthy meal or snack a day. Reach for the banana in the office fruit bowl, or add one more veggie to your chicken caesar salad (grape tomatoes and asparagus are two delicious options). “One simple thing a day that’s good for you can, over time, prove you have the power to take action and be healthier,” she says.
Pay attention to your needs.
Any number of things might make us feel healthier, one minute to the next. That’s why Ellen Friedrichs, a Brooklyn, New York–based health and sexuality educator, says we need to assess our needs, moment to moment. “Figuring out what’s going to help you feel the most balanced, and the least stressed, is the best way to get on top of your physical and mental health.” Learn to tune into what your body, skin, moods, and reactions are trying to tell you. Do you really need those potato chips, or are you just thirsty for a big glass of water? You’re exhausted—maybe it’s OK to RSVP “no” to another cocktail party. Feeling distant from your partner lately? Say something. It’s probably time for a much-needed date night.
Tell the truth as often as you can.
“Acting with integrity—where all of your words and actions align with your core beliefs—brings peace of mind and a sense of freedom,” O’Connor says. This may seem challenging, but she believes that lying or ignoring your principles could make you sick, both mentally and physically. “Living an integrated life will give you a great sense of personal satisfaction that you’re living your best, most honest, most authentic life.”