Wellness comes down to lifestyle. Healthy lifestyles build and sustain wellness, and well people live better (with more energy, enthusiasm, productivity, happiness). It’s a cycle and it’s a circle. So how do we build and sustain a healthy lifestyle? Books and books have been written, an endless stream of online videos can be watched, a thousand experts will offer advice. The wellness industry is huge, because the demand is huge.

But perhaps, just perhaps, wellness has become a bit over-complicated. You see, money makes the world go round and the wellness industry is like most industries: it looks to make a profit. And one thing the wellness industry knows, just like most industries know, is that it’s hard to sell “simple”. It’s much easier to sell complicated, breaking-news-science, novel new approaches, miracle cures, super-supplements, wonder-workouts, marvel medications, etc. So that’s what you see on the TV, and on You-Tube, and on every second web-page, today. And some of it is fine: there is a place for new science and novel approaches; we do learn more every day and so legitimate science does evolve over time. But for most us it’s either not necessary or it’s confusing or it’s expensive or it’s unproven or it’s impractical or it’s excessive. We just want to lose a few kilos, exercise a bit, sleep better, maybe quit smoking, drink a bit less, and so on. Normal health & wellness goals like that. Well, the good news is that there is a simple approach that really can help. It can help all of us. It’s not complex and it’s not costly. It’s called “developing a habit”…

Habits are routine regular repeated behaviours that become part of our daily lives to such an extent that they become part of “us” almost. They become almost sub-conscious and doing them is simple and natural. The habit is a powerful thing and so it’s worth developing good habits. It generally takes 6-12 weeks to establish a habit – let’s say 12 weeks to be on the safe-side – after this time the habit is quite likely to “stick”, which is what we want. There is lots of advice about HOW to develop a habit, but we’re not going into that here. For now, let’s just agree that developing a habit requires some will-power and self-discipline to begin with, but it gets easier as time goes by, until it is simply part of who we are and how we live.

The BIG thing is to choose a habit you want to develop. A habit that you are willing to work on developing, knowing it will take some effort and some sacrifice. A simple habit, expressed in plain English and completely understood (no jargon, no pseudo-science, no confusion, no gray areas). A positive habit that can form part of a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Key words here: choose, willing, simple, positive, sustainable.

Here are some examples of simple and simply-stated habits that are worth developing, for most adults:

  • Walk for 30 minutes a day
  • Exercise so I am short of breath and a sweaty, for 3 hours a week
  • Reduce my weekly budget for “sweets and treats” to R50.00 per week
  • Quit smoking on [enter date]
  • Stop drinking alcohol after two drinks in a day
  • Give up sugar in tea and coffee
  • Read a book for at least 15 minutes at bedtime
  • Reduce my daily screen-time (computer, TV, phone, tablet) to less than 8 hours
  • Sleep for 7-8 hours every night
  • Never have second helpings until at least 30 minutes later
  • Phone my parents at least once a week
  • Limit my take-aways to once per week as a maximum
  • Get rid of my sugary breakfast cereals and start the day better
  • Use a to-do list for each day and each week
  • Drink 2 litres of water a day
  • Stop buying sugary soft drinks altogether

As you can see then, these really ARE simple habits. But each one is helpful in building a more-well you. Several are quite-simply essential in any form of quality lifestyle. But none are complex, none are expensive, and none are hard to understand. Many of these examples-of-good-habits are things you might already be doing, or want to do – certainly you’ve thought about most of these before. Which brings us back to the original point: your wellness journey is your own. Nobody can walk the path for you (no matter how many people say they want to and have some “complicated magic” to share with you, for a small fee of course). In truth, it’s simple. Not easy. But simple. It starts with choosing.

So why not choose one, just one, of these simple habits (or one of your own). Choose one you think is important to you. Choose one you feel you can stick with forever (yes). Choose one you’re willing to work hard on developing. Choose it, write it down, and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Choose one today. Do it yourself, for yourself.