5 healthy habits (and how to keep them)

New Year's resolutions are easy to make and hard to keep. Discover how to make healthy habits for 2024.

Written by Kerry McCarthy

How many times have you gone into a January just like this one with high hopes of developing new, healthier habits? Almost three quarters of all Aussies make new year resolutions, but many of us abandon our good intentions by the end of the month.

There are many reasons resolutions don’t last. Research tells us we often think too big. Going from no exercise to a 7-day gym commitment is unlikely to result in long-term change. Often our resolutions are too vague. "I’m going to eat better” doesn’t define a clear goal or how to make it happen. 

The good news is that while there might be a million reasons our resolutions last about as well as a bucket of prawns on a hot day, there are some simple tips that can help us succeed, and some healthy habits that are easy to keep.

Here are five healthy habits to make (and keep) this year.

I will commit to regular health checks

Sometimes the simplest healthy habits are the most effective, such as scheduling a dental check-up or eye test. The appointments are quick and easy to make online or over the phone, so why wait?

Regular eye checks can reassure you that you’re looking after your eye health and may help detect early signs of any problems, leading to swift action in the case anything more serious develops. Plus , Medibank members with extras cover and who have served any waiting periods can get 100% back on most optical items at all recognised providers up to annual limits.*

And here’s something to smile about: Medibank members with extras cover on eligible products get 100% back on up to two dental check-ups every year, including x-rays, at any Members’ Choice Advantage dentist . Find your nearest MCA provider here.

You can make follow-up, six monthly or annual appointments on the spot, meaning it’s in your diary with no likelihood of being overlooked. And don’t forget Medibank extras annual limits reset on 1 January every year.

Find out more about the health checks to keep in mind for your age

I will take steps to decrease my stress  

Stress can negatively impact our physical and mental health  . But how do we decrease stress when we still have to work, pay the bills, study, and everything else? Stress relief looks different for everyone. 

While one person might use yoga or keep a gratitude journal, another needs a high intensity boxing class or a walk on the beach. The trick is to find the stress relief that works for you and then make it a part of your regular routine. 

Senior couple

Medibank Better Minds

Whether you’re unsure of what you’re feeling, looking out for a family member, or you simply need to hear another voice, we’re here to advise, guide and support you through your mental health journey.

Scheduling time to de-stress in your calendar can help make it non-negotiable. Block out a set time each day to devote to your anti-stress activity and treat it like an important meeting. Prioritising this time in the same way you do other events or activities will make it easier to create the habit.

I will eat more healthy foods

After the holidays, eating better is often a top priority for a new healthy habit. But while salads (no dressing!) and water can feel realistic on day one, by day three it’s likely to get a little tricky. New habits are hard to keep if they’re too drastic, while starting small can lead to bigger changes down the track. So, before you throw out the entire contents of your pantry, try making smaller goals instead.

Upping your veggie intake is one way to start; incorporate more vegetables into your meals throughout the day, or have them as a snack instead of grabbing something from the vending machine. You could also try swapping out high-fat/sugar foods for leaner alternatives, such as yogurt for Greek yogurt, or red meats for leaner options like chicken or fish.

Remember, small changes can lead to big outcomes.

Discover more about how to create healthier eating habits this year. 

I will be more active

Even the best intentions to exercise more can quickly wane without a bit of extra motivation. Organised activities such as parkrun can help. Active nationally, parkrun is a free community event where participants can walk, jog, or run a 5km route. This outdoor event is a chance to move a little bit more and make some social connections with other locals. Once you’re registered all you have to do is show up. Volunteers are available to answer any questions. You’re also free to simply observe and get to know what parkrun is all about. Held weekly on Saturday mornings and open to people of all fitness levels, parkrun might be the easiest way to create a new healthy habit this year.

Find a parkrun near you here

I will be happier

Like stress relief, the things that make us happy are unique to everyone and everyday commitments can distract us from doing the things that make us happiest. Creating some rules around things that vacuum up our time (hello, mindless scrolling) can help create space to see friends, play a sport, watch a movie, exercise or anything else that puts a smile on our faces.

Try turning off email and phone notifications to decrease the time you spend reacting to pings and messages. Instead, have set times to check and reply, and activate a Do Not Disturb mode on your phone when you want to wind down at the end of the day.

Even having our phone on the table while we play a board game or watch a movie can distract us from what we really want to be doing. It also sends a message to the person we’re with that they aren’t getting our full attention. Be present in everything you’re doing to reap the rewards, like having more time for fun activities that energise you.

Earn up to $400 worth of rewards every year!^

Earn points for tracking your every day healthy actions such as eating, walking, stretching... and even sleeping.

^Medibank Live Better Challenges & Goals Earning Policy: The participant of a Medibank Live Better Challenge or Goal may not receive Live Better points or may have their already credited Live Better points reversed in accordance with the Medibank Live Better terms and conditions. To earn Live Better points, the participant needs to properly complete 100% of the eligible Challenge according to the instructions. The number of Live Better points available for Medibank Live Better Challenges and Goals is subject to change without prior notice. The maximum number of Live Better points that each Medibank Live Better member can earn from successfully completing health and wellbeing Challenges, Goals or any Onboarding action in a calendar year is 40,000 Live Better points. To the extent of any inconsistency between this Policy and the Medibank Live Better terms and conditions, the terms and conditions will take precedence.

Learn more here about how to detox from your digital devices. 

Give yourself the best chance to stick to healthier habits

  1. Set small realistic goals.
  2. Reward yourself each time you hit a milestone.
  3. Reframe your thinking from ‘I’m not good enough’ to ‘I want to be a healthier version of me’ to get rid of the negative self-judgment.
  4. Join forces with family or friends who are striving for the same goal – a buddy can help you stay motivated  .
  5. Don’t throw in the towel after one mistake; just start fresh the next day and do your best.
Written by Kerry McCarthy

Kerry McCarthy runs her own virtual content agency and has been writing and editing for over 20 years. Currently studying a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy she is a licensed Mental Health First Aid teacher and is passionate about using content and storytelling to improve wellbeing goals for corporate business. 

Previous article

Life’s a beach

Next article

Could changing your diet help with joint pain?

Related articles