7 small wellness goals you can achieve
You don’t have to wait for a special day or even a new year to get healthy. Setting small, attainable goals anytime may be enough to get you on the right track to better health.
Getting started on your goals and staying consistent is the first step. At that point, “you're on the way to establishing a new lifestyle change,” says Davina Kotulski, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and life coach in private practice in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
Here are 7 small healthy habits to add to your daily routine that can help improve your overall well-being. Do these every day and see how you feel after a few weeks.
1. Reach out and make 1 social connection
Social connections are more important than you might think. They may even help prevent serious health issues, like heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression and anxiety. In fact, people with stronger bonds have a 50% higher chance of living longer than those with fewer social connections.1
“A social connection can even be having a casual conversation with the barista at your favorite coffee shop,” Kotulski says.
If you’re looking for a more meaningful connection, Kotulski suggests volunteering or finding groups of people with common interests, like book clubs, museum outings and fitness classes.
2. Add 1 or 2 more fruits and vegetables to your diet
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults eat 1½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day.2 These foods, which are rich in important nutrients, may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent digestive issues, lower blood pressure and even protect against some cancers.3
You could try the 1-2-3 method, recommends Jennifer McDaniel, M.S., R.D.N, a registered dietitian and owner of McDaniel Nutrition Therapy in St. Louis, Missouri. “The 1-2-3 method is a straightforward reminder to have 1 serving of produce with breakfast, 2 servings of produce with lunch, and 3 servings of produce at dinner,” she says. One serving is about half a cup for most fresh, frozen or canned fruits and veggies.
3. Move for 5 minutes, 3 times a day
Daily movement is so important for overall health. It’s easy to get into an I’m-too-busy-to-exercise rut — but committing to just 15 minutes every day is a good start.
You can split this up into different time chunks throughout the day. Chances are, if you start small, you may find yourself increasing that amount of time.
Many everyday activities count too, notes certified fitness consultant Joshua Margolis, owner of Mind Over Matter Health & Fitness in New York City. These include doing yard work, gardening, cleaning the house and even putting away groceries.
4. Try 1 new fiber-rich food
Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate from foods that may help you have regular bowel movements. It can also help you feel fuller and more satisfied after eating. Plus, getting enough fiber has been shown to help reduce your risk of certain diseases, like cardiovascular disease.4 "Dietary fiber can greatly help adults who have challenges with constipation and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and weight,” says McDaniel.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:5
- Eat 1 whole fruit with its skin (like a pear) for dessert instead of sweets (about 7 grams of fiber)
- Nibble on 1 ounce of nuts — about 3.5 grams of fiber
- Munch on 3 cups of air-popped popcorn (about 3.6 grams of fiber)
- Replace low-fiber cereals with steel cut oats
5. Laugh often
You’ve probably heard laughter is the best medicine — and it really can be. Did you know the act of laughing has been found to have many health benefits? There are physical, mental and social benefits including stress relief, heart disease prevention and improvement in mood.6
Turn on a funny movie, watch a comedy show or look up silly videos on the internet. Or reach out to that one person who always makes you laugh.
6. Do 1 activity to improve your posture
Slouching or slumping may affect your health and cause you to be more prone to injury and pain.7 A simple way to improve your posture is to stand with your back and shoulders up against a wall. Try to have as much of your body touching the wall as possible.
“You’ll realize what standing up straight really feels like. Do that for 10, 20 or 30 seconds, and you may see your posture improve over time,” Margolis says.
Doing simple exercises like this one every day may not only help your posture but also may help improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling.8
7. Say 1 thing you’re grateful for
Take a moment to express thanks for just 1 thing in your life. It could be something as small as a cup of hot coffee in the morning, a laugh with friends or a beautiful sunset.
Expressing gratitude comes with many health benefits. It may help increase overall happiness — and decrease anxiety and depression.9,10
Practicing daily gratitude can help train your brain to notice and appreciate certain things and people in your life, which can lead to greater life satisfaction.10 Doing this regularly can help shift your life perspective in a more optimistic way.
Little lifestyle changes you make every day can add up to significant health benefits over time. Start now and stick with the ones that work best for you.