It is a New Year’s tradition to make resolutions. Many of these resolutions aim to increase healthy habits (e.g., exercise more, eat better, practise meditation) or decrease unhealthy habits (e.g., quit smoking, drink less alcohol, eat less junk food). Like many other resolutions, self-care is not as easy to maintain as a healthy habit. But it is very important.

Stress can cause us to neglect our basic needs, leading to more stress. Make it a point to check-in on yourself that you’re meeting your basic needs each day, such as eating regularly, keeping a healthy sleep schedule, exercising, and attending to your physical needs. When we feel physically well, we are better able to manage stress.

Making Healthy Habits Life-Proof

Don’t let self-care become less important than your other commitments. Build self-care into your schedule; make it a habit.

  • Intentions can get derailed by life. Don’t let failure of an intention make you feel like a failure.
  • It is harder for complex behaviors to become habits than simple ones. For example, snacking on healthy foods is an easier habit to start and maintain than making supportive relationships a priority. Going for a run involves a lot of steps (e.g., putting on the right shoes, picking a route, picking a time, etc.)
  • Create environmental triggers for healthy behavior that are regularly part of your day. The trigger can be a time of day or another part of your routine.
  • Choose healthy habits that make you feel good about yourself, not ones that you think you should choose but don’t work for you. Enjoyment is important.
  • Time spent in nature is very renewing. (In some cultures, they even have a name for it: forest bathing.)
  • Make unhealthy habits harder to do, if they don’t make you feel better. For example, if scrolling through social media at bedtime gets in the way of a good night’s sleep, plug your device in outside your bedroom. Or set a bed time on your phone so that it goes into bedtime mode.