Having healthy habits isn’t only about exercising and eating well. It’s also about working on your mental and financial health and thinking holistically. All three aspects are much more connected than you may think.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada says worries about money are the number one source of stress for Canadians, higher than stress from work, relationships or even personal health. The agency says that 48% of Canadians have lost sleep because of financial worries.
Worries from money issues can cause people to have a variety of physical health problems. These include high blood pressure, headaches, anxiety and depression.
Establishing healthy habits in your routine can help improve all three of these pillars of health in a balanced and sustainable way. Here are some strategies we’ve found to help you get motivated and establish habits that work best for you.
It may sound trite, but it’s true. You can’t compare yourself to other people and expect to make progress. Sure, it’s hard to not look at other people and feel like you’re missing out or even jealous, but it’s important to remember that everyone’s circumstances are different. You can't compare apples and oranges.
A better habit for your mental health is to avoid comparing yourself to other people and train yourself to measure how far you’ve come. Compare yourself to yourself and only yourself. This way you can see where you were three months ago, six months ago or even a year ago and appreciate the progress you have made.
Focus on your own story and personal journey. You may not be where you want to be at this point but you’re working on getting there.
Need some more inspiration? Watch this video from Joy Ofodu.
It’s all about prioritization, what you want, not what other people expect of you.
Identify the things that matter to you the most. Think about what you want to do, both short and long term. Keep track of your goals and write them down. What steps do you need to take to get there? Start small and think incrementally. Progress happens one step at a time, not all at once.
It’s a good idea not to overdo it.
You can lower the toll on your mental health by limiting the things on your to-do list. Stick to something you know you can achieve and add a new habit after you feel it has become as routine as brushing your teeth.
Adopting a habit that improves multiple aspects of your life can be very powerful and motivating.
Your budget and your diet go hand in hand, and food preparation is a great place to start making improvements. It can be as simple as deciding that for one night a week you eat healthier and save money by preparing a vegetarian meal.
Budgeting may seem like a painful process, at first, but once you get started, it can make you feel more secure and in control. Going through your online purchases for a month and adding them up is a good place to start. You’ll see if you’re spending too much or within your means.
It’s also important to make sure your goals are reasonable and specific. You’ll be less likely to quit if you can actually see yourself achieving them. Ask yourself how long it will take you to achieve a goal. You want to set habits that are reachable in a realistic time frame.
A reasonable goal may be to pay off all one of your credit cards by this time next year or run five kilometers in the next six months. Being specific with your goal setting and giving yourself a timeline is key.
This is the most difficult part of making any lifestyle change: starting. It’s easier to say ‘I’ll do that tomorrow, next week, next month instead of beginning to make changes now.
Sometimes it’s best to start with something small and easily achievable first. This way you’ll get an automatic mental health boost knowing you’ve made progress almost right away.
You can also simply work on replacing one habit with another without changing much in your routine.
According to experts, the most important thing is repetition. It takes, on average, 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.
Let’s say instead of driving to work you decide to bike when the weather permits, saving money on gas and getting exercise as a bonus. You’ll have to train yourself to get into the habit, and it may take for 1-2 months’ worth of effort.
It’s also a good idea to quickly eliminate bad habits too. Avoiding opening your bills, not checking your bank balance regularly or ordering take out when you know you can’t actually afford it aren’t good ideas. It’s not just about starting new habits, but eliminating bad ones too.
These are easy ways for you to slightly alter your routine that can have a big impact on both your health and wallet.
Life is full of surprises and the unexpected is bound to happen. It takes time to adjust to doing something new on a regular basis. You will probably forget here and there, especially at the beginning. Setting reminder alarms on your phone might be a way of helping you ensure you set time aside for whatever new habit you’re trying to adopt, but give yourself some grace.
As long as your new habits are working themselves into your routine, that’s a good sign. Yes, you will forget once and a while. When that happens, you need to simply accept the slip up. Remembering that you’ve forgotten to do it is better than not remembering it at all.