10 Healthy Habits to Start Now: Drastically Improve Your Life + Gain Energy, Confidence, & Happiness
Updated: Apr 26, 2021
10 Healthy Habits to Start Now
Ever wish you could improve your life, but feel overwhelmed with the amount of information and advice out there? Want to be happier, healthier, and more energetic and confident, but just don’t know how to get there? Know that you should exercise and practice other healthy habits, but can’t seem to maintain the motivation to keep going?
I’ve totally got you. That’s exactly how I felt, and I lived in the state for a long time before I realized I was just so over it. Gosh darn it, I was going to exercise and eat healthier and meditate and drink more water, and I was sick of making pledges to myself that fell through after a few days. I just had to figure out how to actually maintain these healthy habits and use them, over time, to accomplish my goals and improve my life.
So, I did a ton of research, read so many books on health, wellness, habits, and happiness, and tried out multiple strategies for myself. I figured out what actually worked, and even what actually worked when I was lazy or feeling down. I narrowed down the absolute essentials - what healthy habits to start right away, what order to implement my new daily habits, and how to maintain those small habits to reach your goals and aspirations, and I wrote a blog about what I learned.
For a great starting point, this post will introduce the most critical ten habits you should include in your days, as well as the best tools to be successful with each. This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Thanks for supporting The Superhero Handbook!
When we try to build habits, many of us tend to focus on the capacity of our own motivation to get us to stick to a healthy new habit. In reality, our motivation shifts from day to day - which typically becomes incredibly clear to me about a week into my New Year's resolutions. The better way to build a habit is by focusing on making it easy for you to do and by setting up a routine and environment for healthy habits to seamlessly fit into.
I absolutely guarantee that, even if you only begin doing the first five of these habits the large majority of your days, they will totally and completely change your life. Incorporating all of these habits into your daily life will make you feel like a superhero so much faster!
Weekly and Monthly Habit Plans
Not sure how to start implementing these habits into your day-to-day life? Don't feel like you need to do it all on your own! Check out my FREE Weekly and Monthly Habits plans spreadsheet to track your habits, know where to start, and have a ready-made plan for you to start reaching for success right at your fingertips.
Exercise is one of the absolute best habits you can begin daily to increase energy and joy, and support your physical and mental health. The endorphins exercise provides make us happy and help drive our day, keeping us motivated and positive. Exercise helps with weight loss, makes you stronger, and boosts body-image and confidence. It reduces stress and anxiety, and it even improves your memory and cognitive ability.
One of the biggest benefits of exercise, for me, is the extra energy it provides you to live a great day. You're better able to stay motivated, energized, and productive, and then, at the end of the day, exercise even helps you sleep better. Exercise can give you SUCH a boost. It is one of those incredible things that benefits mind, body, spirit, and future habits.
How to Exercise
There are so many different options for staying fit; you’re bound to find a sustainable active hobby. Join a rec sports team or find a fun cool exercise activity (acro-yoga, basketball, rowing, pole dancing, whatever). One of my favorite ways to get exercise is just through my daily life - walking around my neighborhood, carrying my groceries home, etc. Still, whether or not you have a fun option available nearby, can afford a gym membership, or live somewhere walkable, you still need to get physical exercise into your life, and it’s really not that hard.
Exercise guidelines typically recommend cardio four to five times a week and strength training at least twice a week. The cardio portion can be low to moderate exercise (like jogging) for 30-45 minutes or vigorous exercise (like HIIT or wind sprints) for 10-20 minutes. Short high-intensity exercises are great because they’re time-efficient and very effective at raising stamina and metabolism, blood-sugar control, and post-exercise fat burn. Keep in mind, though, that a strong exercise routine will include both cardio and strength training, as well as rest, stretching, and self-care.
LISS: Low Intensity Steady State
Hikes, walks, yoga, and other slower routines help you build your endurance. LISS cardio involves consistent effort at a steady pace for 30-60 minutes. This low and slow exercise is a good place to start adding more cardio into your weeks if you’re not exercising much now. Daily walking or hiking provides Vitamin D that supports your immune system and respiratory health, and is a fantastic way to get in your LISS exercise. You can also burn LISS calories throughout your day-to-day life if you work to get off your seat and move around. I highly recommend more daily movement, whether it’s tracking 10,000 steps or just cleaning, dancing, using a standing desk, and moving around your days.
HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training
One of the best exercises when it comes to increasing energy and losing weight is high-intensity exercise like HIIT or wind sprints. HIIT involves short bursts of high effort, followed by lower effort rest intervals. HIIT provides us with a natural high. Just 10-25 minutes of high-intensity cardio helps release brain chemicals called endocannabinoids. These make us feel good and increase our energy. I often suggest starting to exercise more with LISS; then, once you’re ready to take it up a notch, add a couple of HIIT routines into your weeks.
Another great way to increase strength and build muscle is strength or resistance training. Lifting weights and using resistance bands helps increase strength, improve your metabolism, create lean muscle mass, and improve your mental health. Weight training can even help reduce anxiety and depression, and can help our brains grow and work more effectively. If you’re already including body-weight exercise into your routine through yoga, HIIT, or another means, you may already be getting some strength training in.
Tools For Success
Figure out what exercise you're into, then get the right equipment so that you have the right tools to be successful. I personally love exercises that I can do around my home - or walking around my neighborhood - because I'm much more likely to work out if I don't actually have to drive anywhere to do so.
Look up a 10-20 minute cardio or HIIT session (they're free on YouTube). The key here is to work up a sweat so your body signals for endorphins and you activate fat-loss.
Go for a 30 minute walk.
Do yoga on a mat at home (again, there’s plenty of free videos online and apps/sites for yoga classes).
Meditation provide benefits that are psychological, emotional, and physical. It helps you better handle stress and anxiety, it helps you become more self-aware, and it improves your emotional and mental state. Meditation even helps you sleep better, lowers blood pressure, and improves your focus, memory, and intelligence.
One of my favorite benefits of meditation is the ability it provides you to slow down your own thoughts and alter your perspective. It allows you to choose how to respond to the world around you, focus on the positive over the negative, and stay calm. By using the power of meditation and other mindfulness practices, you can effectively increase positivity and joy.
How to Meditate
Find a place in your house you can sit, uninterrupted, on a cushion or in a chair. You should be comfortable but alert. Find a meditation on Spotify or Youtube - this can be either a guided meditation or just calming music. When you're ready, close your eyes, and breathe. Focus on your breath as it goes in and out. Acknowledge your thoughts, let them pass on by, and return to your breath. Be patient and gentle, and accept what comes.
Tools for Meditation
Meditate for at least 10 minutes every day. The key to reaping benefits from meditation comes from consistency, so find a way to plug meditation into your morning or evening routine.
Eating the right food and produce gives you energy to live radiant, productive days. The best nutrition for energy typically includes meals made up of about 50 percent colorful produce, 25 percent protein (animal or plant-based), 25 percent whole grains, and a bit of healthy fat. Snacks and meals filled with produce will provide the right vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you need to live a healthy life, and they'll give you energy to live productive and motivated days. Increasing nutrients and prioritizing vegetables will help you live longer, stay cancer and illness free, and become more positive and happy.
How to Eat More Produce
One of the great things about produce is that you can essentially eat as much as you want. I try to have at least one big greens salad a day, topped with veggies, legumes, protein, grains, nuts/seeds, etc. On top of the salad, I'll snack on fruits and veggies throughout my day. Keeping healthy energy-inducing snacks around like berries, veggies and hummus, apples with nut butter, popcorn, and greek yogurt can help ensure you’re afforded lasting energy through the day.
Produce is great to have around because it is super easy as a healthy snack, can make for the base of delicious and nutritious meals, and provides so many benefits. Carbs, especially produce, provide a great source of energy, aid in digestion, and help you feel full with fewer calories. Leafy green and cruciferous vegetables in particular are loaded with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. They are super filling while low in calories, and they can even help reduce inflammation and your risk of illness.
Tools for Healthy Snacking
Imperfect Foods Produce Delivery
Good Tupperware for Carrots, Broccoli, and Other Fruit & Veggies
Good Knives (trust me, these make chopping so much easier)
Keep produce around and try to include at least some produce in every meal (a piece of fruit for breakfast, a salad base for lunch, some steamed veggies with dinner, whatever).
If you're not drinking enough water (and many of us aren't), making sure you get at least 64-80 ounces of water a day can have huge benefits on your health and performance. This habit helps your body work correctly, supporting your digestive system and flushing waste and toxins, boosting your performance and endurance, and helping nutrients get to your cells. Drinking water can also help minimize irritation and allergies and reduce headaches.
If you're trying to lose weight, prioritizing water can be hugely helpful. Soda, juice, and alcohol are filled with unnecessary calories and sugar, and are big players when it comes to making us fat. When you choose water over these other drinks, you prioritize your health and reduce your intake of sugar. In fact, just drinking a glass of water before eating a meal has been proven to result in significant weight loss over time. So, yeah, drink lots of water.
How to Drink More Water
Get a water bottle you absolutely love and bring it with you everywhere. Every day, drink at least 64oz of water (more when you exercise) early in your day. Get an app or smart water bottle to make sure you're drinking enough.
Always have a full glass of water:
Right when you wake up, before you drink tea or coffee or anything else
Before each meal to help prevent overeating and support weight loss/management
When you exercise
Before bed after you’ve been drinking
Tools for Hydration
Hidrate Smart Water Bottle
Dyln Alkaline Water Bottle
Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day, more if you're exercising regularly.
Getting a good night's sleep has huge impacts on your day after you've woken up. A quality night of sleep is essentially a ‘reset’ for your body so you can jump back in rested and ready to take on a new day. It helps our heart, provides energy, and recharges our muscles and mind. This is more than just about getting eight hours of sleep though. You have to also set up your day and environment for quality sleep.
How to Sleep Better
Don’t eat or drink after 8pm
Keep your room as dark as you can at night
Don’t watch TV, play on your phone, or use a laptop within 2 hours of going to sleep
Use a noise machine if it helps to soothe you to sleep (or use earplugs)
Tools for Better Sleep
Make sure to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night and set up your environment for success. It helps to create a routine where you go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day. This supports your circadian rhythm and helps going to sleep become easier.
Practicing gratitude often does wonders for your life. When you take time to appreciate the good things that happened during your day or to be mindful of things that give you joy, you start to focus more on positivity and appreciate your life more. Research tells us that happiness comes more from our perspective of our life and our situation than any material gain we could achieve. Find a moment each day to settle into a state of gratitude and become more aware of what you're grateful for about your life.
Expressing gratitude often will raise your overall frequency and allow you to connect with something bigger than yourself. It helps remind you of your blessings and your privilege in a way that will help cultivate a desire to provide generosity and compassion to others. When you're grateful for what you have, you can even manifest more awesome things for your life and those around you.
How to Practice Gratitude
In your head, all the time. Every morning and evening (and whenever you think of it), think about some awesome things you’re grateful for. Choose 3-5.
In a journal. Keep track of your gratitude in a gratitude journal.
Write a note or call someone. Show those you love that you appreciate them.
Pray or meditate. Spend time in solitude to connect with yourself and the universe.
Write a love letter to yourself. Every once in a while, write down some things you love and appreciate about yourself. The more you write and think great things about yourself, the more you will love and believe in yourself.
Tools for Being More Grateful
Every evening, right before you fall asleep at night, think about 5 things you're grateful for from your day and your life. Practice gratitude consistently and you will bring positivity and energy and light and magic into your life. It’s awesome.
Satisfaction and joy don't come just from better physical and mental health. Make a habit of learning constantly to gain this deeper level of satisfaction. Reading, listening to podcasts, taking classes, and otherwise educating yourself can help invigorate and challenge your mind. Use your cognitive skills to keep your mind sharp and learn more about your passions and purpose.
How to Learn More
Invest in yourself. Squeeze in moments of downtime to listen to a podcast or audiobook, read a book or blog articles, and learn more about your career or/and passions. Of course, you also need time to relax and not challenge your mind. When you can, though, choose to grow and learn and gain more satisfaction in your life.
Tools for Educating Yourself
My Resources: I've included some of my favorite books and documentaries on the resources section of my page.
Udemy: Udemy is all about options. Students choose from over 130,000 online courses, which cover a broad range of focuses and make use of more than 50,000 instructors.
Coursera: Choose from over 2,700 online courses on Coursera. Some courses are backed by universities and can lead to degrees, while others give students the tools to master a specific skill.
CreativeLive: CreativeLive broadcasts free, live classes with the world's top experts in photography, business, design, craft, and audio.
edX: Join over 16 million learners in highly actionable online classes backed by Harvard, MIT, and other prestigious institutions from around the world. Some courses here are taken just for the love of learning, while others can earn you a degree or certificate.
MIT's OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., but did you know you can access many of its learning materials for free? You won't get a degree, but you can follow along with MIT classes through the OpenCourseWare project.
Duolingo: This free service uses points, levels, and achievements to make learning a new language fun and addictive. It's easy to get started; just download the app, create a free account, pick a language, and you're ready to go.
Insight Timer: Insight Timer is a mobile app that guides listeners through meditations, thought exercises, and talks on everyday issues like happiness, grief, and insomnia. Some courses are free while others are paid.
Try to learn something new every week. You can learn a lot from reading often; I try to read most days. If you're not a big reader, though, I highly recommend finding at least 30-60 minutes a week to learn something new.
Living a more clutter-free, minimalist life can help you be much less stressed, it can save you money (from less shopping for unnecessary material possessions), and can provide more financial and overall freedom. Decluttering your space and cutting down on your number of possessions helps you have less to clean and organize, and it helps open up your time and money to be used for your priorities.
When you take the time each week to declutter, it helps remove daily stress and be more joyful in your home. Figure out what works best for you to declutter and put things away. If you’re a ‘spurts of energy’ gal, get at it! If you’re a ‘chunk it down’ kinda guy, do one room or 15 minutes at a time. Either way, put in some effort to get rid of things that you don’t need up-front. Once you’re living a more minimalist life, and holding onto what brings you the most joy, cleaning up will be a breeze.
How to Declutter
Try to put things away, or clean dishes, immediately.
Don’t store what you don’t need.
Give yourself permission to buy it again.
Be picky about what you keep.
Keep a bag in your closet for clothes and accessories to donate.
Take it one room or area at a time.
Only hold onto what is truly valuable or loved.
Tools for Decluttering
Clothes Donation Bags
Choose one room or area to focus on. Set a timer for 10-30 minutes (as much as you can squeeze in), and pick up clutter and trash. You may be surprised by how much better an area looks after even a brief amount of cleaning.
Embrace Light and Color
Light, color, and emotions are all closely linked. Embrace light and color to positively impact your mood. We rely on sunlight to regulate our circadian rhythm, the twenty-four-hour clock that determines our energy levels. Sunlight also stimulates the production of Vitamin D by the skin, modulates our immune system, and influences levels of serotonin that help balance emotions. Research consistently shows that increasing your exposure to daylight can reduce blood pressure and improve mood, alertness, and productivity. The more daylight you’re able to get, the better your mood, alertness, and productivity will be.
Unfortunately, almost half of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, and most of us spend the large majority of our days indoors. We use artificial indoor lighting at night that throws off our circadian rhythm. In order to get sunshine in the right way, get some bright light from a hike outdoors or even just from a light therapy lamp. Consider using more natural dimmable lighting around your house to keep your circadian rhythm on track. Additionally, use different colors around your home to impact your mood and mental health.
How to Make Your Surroundings More Joyful
The benefits of sunlight and light therapy are astounding. For those who live in the north where sunshine occurs fewer days of the year and for others who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), light therapy lamps can help to mitigate depression and anxiety and to support a proper sleep schedule. Our well-being is intrinsically linked to color, light, and a nice sunlit room. Make sure you get a good amount of bright light early in your days.
You can also use colors in your life and home to impact your mood and push it in the direction you desire. Warm colors like red, orange and yellow can help you feel happier, more optimistic, and more energetic. They can be a bit too active, though, and are not typically recommended for calm spaces like bedrooms. Cool colors like green, blue, and purple are more calming and soothing, though they can also sometimes represent sadness. Let color guide your way as you decorate, accent, and paint the rooms in your home.
Tools for A Joyful Home
Colorful tapestries and art (the one linked is actually in my bedroom - the blue is so calming!)
Play around with light and colors to help cultivate the mood you desire. Make sure you’re getting regular sunshine and Vitamin D. Use color to bring you joy, calm, or inspiration.
Generosity is the act of being kind, selfless, and giving to others. Being generous can greatly increase both others' well-being and your own well-being. When we give and receive freely, our mind helps us connect socially and increases our ability to trust others, making us feel happier and more secure. Being generous can reduce stress, enhance purpose, fight depression, and help you live longer. Giving back and volunteering are incredible ways to make the world a little bit better and increase your own joy.
Generous people report being happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than those who don’t give. Generosity shows us that we are capable of making a difference in the world and willing to put in the time, effort, and money of acting toward that cause. Being more generous can improve confidence and make us feel better about ourselves. Focusing on what we are giving rather than on what we are receiving helps us look outward and stop dwelling on our own problems. We get to see ourselves being kind and helping others, and we begin to feel better about ourselves and our purpose.
How to Be More Generous
Generosity can come from one-off donations, habitual giving, or even just daily compassion and kindness.There are all kinds of ways to be generous, from donating to a cause you believe in to volunteering your time. Giving of your money and time benefit others, benefits you, and puts a bit more positive energy out into this world.
Pick one or two causes that have real meaning to you and give to them every week or month. Give however much time or money you can, but do it consistently so it becomes a habit.
Give people you care about gifts that you know they would really love, and don't concern yourself with only giving gifts on holidays. You might give them an actual present, quality time, an act of service, etc. Get to know them and what they really love to receive.
Leave extra every time you tip.
Respond with patience and compassion as often as you can.
Smile, compliment, and laugh often.
Tools for Generosity
Charity Watch is an awesome site that can help you learn more about which charities align with your values and use their funding in effective ways. They rate charities based on their finances to give donors a clearer understanding of how their donations are being spent.
Believe that you can give and receive freely, and plug some generosity into your life through some of the tactics above. Then consider how great it feels when you give and receive; raise your frequency and expect more good things to come your way. There are all kinds of ways to be generous, from donating to a cause you believe in to volunteering your time. Not only will it benefit others, but it could also benefit you.
Weekly and Monthly Habit Plans
Don't forget to check out my FREE Weekly and Monthly Habits plans spreadsheet to track your habits, know where to start, and have a ready-made plan for you to start reaching for success right at your fingertips.