With an instrumental upcoming election amid a global pandemic, there are many things beyond your control that make it easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. For months many of you have probably tried — and failed — to prioritize self-care as a way of coping. But before you give yourself a hard time, consider there may be an entirely different and more manageable way of implementing healthy habits that last. So-called micro habits are a new wellness trend, and experts argue that they could be game-changing.
So what exactly is a micro habit? As the name implies, it's a more sustainable, smaller-scale habit that feels a lot more accessible. For example, going for short daily walks instead of running a marathon. Saba Harouni Lurie, therapist and owner/founder of Take Root Therapy believes this approach is especially beneficial for the current climate. "In order to offset down moments, stay healthy, and foster a sense of whatever mastery we can in these times, it can be beneficial to build habits incrementally," she says. "In normal times, we may make dramatic resolutions to quit this or that, or run a marathon. However, during quarantine, it may be helpful to look for smaller opportunities to make different choices."
Lurie also suggests that such a practice might work well for those who struggle with perfectionism or depression and are scared off by the prospect of starting something they might do imperfectly. Manageable micro habits, as an alternative, could help to minimize such feelings of self-criticism, she says. Just the simple act of keeping a promise to yourself can feel totally rewarding — no matter how small it may be. That said, to really make micro habits work for you, the therapist recommends staying flexible, allowing yourself the space to adjust as needed.
Lurie shares that some of the most doable micro habits are those that can be easily tacked on to tasks you do daily, such as taking one deep breath before jumping in the shower. But if you need a few more ideas that can help you try out this trend — from eating healthier and exercising to mental health practices — read ahead.
Micro Habits For Wellness: Move More
It sounds simple, but when you're stressed or sad it's easy to feel like you can't even carve out time for exercise. Instead of pushing yourself into a rigorous HIIT routine or even a morning run, think of more bite-sized ways you can move more. Tori Jensen, a registered dietitian for health and wellness company ah.mi recommends doing physical activity three times a week — which could even be a 20-minute walk during a work conference. "We intentionally use the word 'active' because a full 60-minute workout multiple times a week may not be realistic for most people," she says. "Aim for consistency, and try not to go two days in a row without doing any activity."
Another micro movement activity? "If we want to move more, we can put on a two-minute song once a day and try to move for the duration of the song," Lurie suggests.
Micro Habits For Wellness: Make Your Bed
It's a daily micro habit of some of the most successful women for good reason: Making the bed is a relatively small thing that can help you start your day with a sense of accomplishment. So during the times that cleaning your whole house feels too big to take on, Lurie recommends this simple activity instead as an incremental change that could make a big difference.
Micro Habits For Wellness: Drink More Water
"Most people live their life dehydrated and can instantly feel the difference once they up their water intake," says Jensen. "Most importantly, they feel more energized and less foggy. It’s really incredible what proper hydration can do!" She recommends aiming for 90 ounces, and you might find that carrying a a refillable bottle, or keeping one at your work desk can help.
Micro Habits For Wellness: Eat More Greens
"Eating a big ol’ salad every day just doesn’t happen (or seem appealing) for many people," Jensen says. "Start small by thinking about adding greens to one of your meals each day — even a few handfuls of spinach to your morning smoothie (you won’t even taste it!). Eating greens each day will help you feel better, which also helps motivate you to make other healthy choices." If you want a serving size suggestion, the dietician says two to three cups of greens daily is a great goal.
Micro Habits For Wellness: Stay Connected
Especially during these times, it's easy to feel disconnected with loved ones. And even if you can't touch base in person, you can still fulfill your social activity cravings with the help of micro habits. "If we are wanting to feel more socially connected, we can text or call one friend nightly after doing the dishes," suggests Lurie.