Healthy Habits to Start this January that Aren’t About Diet and Exercise

Incorporate these 5 healthy habits into your routine. No fancy supplements or workout equipment required.
By aha insurance - Jan 8, 2021

At aha insurance we continually explore ways to stay in control of all aspects of life – because we know life is about more than insurance. In our Life Matters series we talk about staying in control of your life and living on your terms. Control feels great!

The first month of the year is typically when we’re most encouraged to change our diet and exercise routine to pursue health and fitness goals. However, in addition to eating plenty of veggies and walking in the weak winter sunshine every day, you can also feel better by adopting one of these 5 wellness-promoting habits.

Pour your worries onto a page

Toronto based blogger Carolyn from Just Breathe Mama calls this technique a “brain dump.” A hybrid between journaling and creating an actionable to-do list, this simple three-step exercise helps you express your feelings and daily concerns.

  • Step 1: Write down all of those thoughts, cluttering your brain and making you feel overwhelmed. 
  • Step 2: Organize your thoughts from step 1 into categories. You can re-write them on another page or visually separate them with different coloured markers or highlighters. 
  • Step 3: Pick out the actionable items in each category and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. 

After this exercise, your brain should feel lighter and less burdened by all the ideas and tasks continually whirling around in there. Check out the free printable brain dump template for more tips on completing this therapeutic and productive practice. 

Try any gratitude challenge that speaks to you

Challenging ourselves to be grateful can be tough. We’ve all heard about the benefits of practicing gratitude regularly. The simple act of recording something we’re thankful for each day can significantly improve our mood and outlook. 

Start a simple gratitude journal; write down at least one thing you’re thankful for each day for a month. If you need help getting started, try the writing prompts from this 30-day gratitude challenge. Steph from Scale it Simple was skeptical at first, but her faint hope turned into the feeling of bursting with gratitude over the little things after a month.

Don’t feel like journalling at night? Take photos of things you’re grateful for throughout your day and save them in a special gallery on your phone. You’ll have visual reminders of the good things in your life that you can pull out anytime. Need more proof that gratitude-focused photojournalism works? Check out photographer Hailey Bartholomew’s TED Talk. 

For more powerful gratitude challenge ideas, get inspired by these 5 exercises to increase your gratefulness brought to you by TED speakers from around the world.

Become untouchable for a day, or even just a few hours

New York Times bestselling author Neil Pasricha is no stranger to giving TED Talks. The Canadian author of The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation is also no stranger to studying and practicing gratitude. However, today let’s explore one of his expert productivity tips, which he described for the Harvard Business Review.

Pasricha plans at least one day a week during which he can’t be reached by meetings and common digital distractions like emails, calls and texts. These “untouchable days” can help entrepreneurs, freelancers, and creatives boost their productivity and improve their work quality. 

However, not everyone who works from home can afford to be truly unreachable for an entire workday. You can modify this technique for your home office by scheduling untouchable hours throughout your workweek. The trick is to commit to a set amount of distraction-free time each week, even if you have to move it around to fit unexpected changes to your schedule. 

Maybe your type of work, boss, clients, or kids (the struggle is real for work from home parents) simply won’t allow for this type of unplugged focus to occur. In that case, you can also apply this technique to your weekends or days off. Even if you can’t turn your phone off for a whole day—who couldn’t benefit from one day a week that’s free from social media and the 24-hour news cycle?

Pick up a hobby (that’s not a side hustle)

With the anxiety of last year, and the stress of our modern world in general, relaxing hobbies are all the rage. They’re typically way more affordable than buying a pair of skis and more fulfilling than buying a brand new handbag or pair of shoes. Many are even simple enough that you can binge your favourite show or podcast once you get the hang of your new pastime. 

Here’s just a taste of the virtually endless list of potential hobbies that can enrich your life: 

  • Gardening: Yes, even in the winter! You can nurture indoor plants or plan your garden and purchase supplies for spring planting.
  • Anything artistic: There are so many options from adult colouring books to phone photography to calligraphy and hand lettering. Dive into the world of tutorials that YouTube and many other online platforms offer to refine your skillset.
  • Become a collector: Choose items that spark your interest and joy, no matter how small. Your collection doesn’t have to be a closet full of expensive sneakers or include pieces worthy of praise on Antiques Roadshow. Your collection doesn’t even have to be physical; you could collect meaningful digital music or inspirational quotes. You might even feel inspired to make room for your collectables by decluttering your home. Who knows, selling your unused items could potentially contribute to someone else’s collection.
  • Become a maker: Whether you’re crafting with paper, yarn, clay, wood or any other material, taking your hands away from the keyboard to build something from scratch can be a beautiful thing. Even if the sweater you’re knitting turns out a little wonky, on the bright side, you’ll have the perfect foundation for next year’s ugly holiday sweater.
  • Master the Kitchen: If you’d prefer to savour your successes and eat your mistakes, baking or cooking might be the hobby for you!
  • Learn a new language: Your goal doesn’t have to be to read (and understand) Don Quixote in Spanish or War in Peace in Russian. Studying a new language is a great way to connect with your family’s history or explore a culture or region of interest from the comfort of home. Suppose you don’t have a bilingual community or penpal to practise with. In that case, there’s a wealth of digital and print resources that can support your learning, helping you develop your conversation skills for your dream vacation.

Hobbies can help decrease your risk of burnout and give you a sense of productive relaxation. Everyone can benefit from adopting a creative outlet that isn’t tied to their career or financial gain. Hobbies provide us with the freedom to try completely new things, fail, and then try again anyway. If a hobby ultimately doesn’t work out, there’s no shame in moving on; consider donating your gently used supplies or swapping them with a friend. 

We love a nutrition-packed meal and home workout routine to keep us fueled and energized throughout the day too. Still, there’s much more to taking care of yourself than cooking with the hottest superfoods or training for a marathon. So try a new hobby, take a break from the outside world, practice gratitude, journal, or enjoy any other form of self-care. Prioritizing holistic health is always good for your mind and body.

aha insurance is Canada’s first car and home insurance brokerage to offer a fully online customer experience. Customers can purchase and manage their car and home insurance online in minutes from the convenience of wherever they are. This puts customers in complete control, and control feels great.