Make over your mindset to make time for your health

It's easy to get sidetracked from good intentions to make healthy changes. The key is to set yourself up for success before you even get started by changing your mindset and learning how to prioritize your daily activities.

By Amy M. Charland

Think about the last time you committed to making healthy changes. You probably promised yourself that you'd stick with a plan this time and finally reach your goals. But then you got sidetracked or faced an obstacle, and your good intentions went out the window. In addition to blaming a lack of willpower and motivation, you may have concluded that you simply don't have time to be healthy. But by getting creative and learning how to prioritize your daily activities, you might find that you have more time than you think.

The key is to set yourself up for success before you even get started. Here are a few ways to change your mindset so that you can find time to focus on your health.

Identify your long-term priorities

Write down your top priorities, such as cooking more meals at home, exercising a certain number of days a week, spending time with friends and family, volunteering, or making time for relaxation or hobbies. Now ask yourself, "Why is this a top priority right now?" and "What are the benefits and consequences of making this a top priority now instead of in the next 10, 20 or 30 years?"

It's common to focus on the short term rather than the long term when it comes to managing daily priorities. Thinking about how your current actions will impact your future can give you a different perspective on what is most important and how you want to spend your time. For instance, if you're currently focusing all your time and energy on your career and not on wellness activities, consider the long-term consequences of not taking care of your health right now. You might realize that having a high quality of life in your later years to enjoy retirement and grandchildren is more important than some of your current activities. By reassessing your current activities based on the future you want, you'll be motivated to find time to take care of yourself today.

Challenge your beliefs

Most people create stories about how life is based on previous experiences. These stories feel real because you seek out evidence to support the belief while disregarding evidence to the contrary. Over time these beliefs guide your actions.

Take a step back and ask yourself how the story you're telling yourself is influencing your progress toward your goals. For example, the notion that eating healthfully is difficult and time-consuming is a belief — it is not inherently true. And if you take a closer look at this belief, you'll likely find that it's keeping you from achieving your nutrition goals. How? Instead of looking for ways to succeed with food shopping, cooking and eating habits, you waste time and energy focusing on the obstacles at hand. Once you become aware of how your belief is driving your behavior, you can make a conscious decision about what you want to believe.

Live by your values

Most people spend their days in survival mode, focusing on tasks that need to be checked off to-do lists. This can lead to a disconnect between what is most important to you and what you actually spend your time on. You spend time on tasks that don't reflect your values and goals. When your actions don't align with your values, you may feel frustrated, dissatisfied, overwhelmed, unhappy or even ashamed. On the other hand, living in accordance with your values can lead to a sense of well-being, fulfillment and satisfaction. Sure, everyone has "have to's," but it is possible to let your long-term goals guide your daily actions.

Experiments

Try these experiments to gain time in your day so that you can reach your wellness goals.

  • For a few days, write down everything you do in 15-minute increments — from checking your email to taking out the trash. You might be surprised to find how much time is wasted on tasks that add little value to your life.
  • Write down all of your top priorities, such as cooking more, exercising several times a week, having more family time or advancing in your career. Then ask yourself, "What are the immediate benefits and future consequences of focusing on these things right now?" You'll be able to picture your goals more clearly and reprioritize accordingly.
  • Write out what an ideal day would look like if you were practicing habits that would help you reach your goals. Start living a portion of this ideal day in the present, even if it's simply eating a healthy breakfast at home. You'll be surprised how time opens up for wellness.
Dec. 29, 2016 See more In-depth

See also

  1. 3 ways to get closer to achieving your goals
  2. Make healthy habits stick
  3. 5 do's and don'ts for staying motivated
  4. 3 ways to avoid secondhand smoke
  5. 7 signs and symptoms not to ignore
  6. Energy management
  7. After COVID-19 vaccination: Is it OK to visit with friends and loved ones?
  8. Animal bites: Do you need a tetanus shot?
  9. Are you doing everything you can to stay healthy?
  10. Belching, intestinal gas, gas pains and bloating
  11. Bone health tips
  12. Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets?
  13. Cancer-prevention strategies
  14. Cellphones and cancer
  15. Colon cancer screening
  16. Coronavirus safety tips for going out
  17. Coronavirus: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  18. Coronavirus travel advice
  19. Plastic surgery
  20. Herd immunity and coronavirus
  21. COVID-19 and holidays
  22. Long-term effects of COVID-19
  23. COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?
  24. COVID-19 (coronavirus): Quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing
  25. Do adults need shots?
  26. Don't save leftover pain pills
  27. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  28. Find meaning in the small things
  29. Flu Shot Prevents Heart Attack
  30. Functional fitness training
  31. Overcome obstacles to your goals
  32. Healthy holiday habits: How to get back on track
  33. Hand drying
  34. Hand-washing tips
  35. Healthy habits that boost happiness
  36. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  37. Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
  38. Home Health Hazards
  39. Brown fat
  40. How social support spurs you
  41. Break the busy cycle
  42. How to take your pulse
  43. How to safely go to your doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic
  44. How to take your temperature
  45. How well do you wash your hands?
  46. Injury Season for Snow Blowers
  47. Investing in yourself
  48. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  49. Keep the focus on your long-term vision
  50. Liposuction alternatives
  51. Lost in Space
  52. Making progress towards your goals
  53. Mammogram guidelines: What are they?
  54. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  55. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  56. Measles vaccine: Can I get the measles if I've already been vaccinated?
  57. Medical family tree
  58. Infographic: Organ Donation Donate Life
  59. Infographic: Paired Donation Chain
  60. Infographic: Pancreas Kidney Transplant
  61. Personal health records
  62. Personalize your wellness journey
  63. Stick to healthy-eating goals at social gatherings
  64. Posture: Align yourself for good health
  65. Posture check: Do you stand up straight?
  66. New Year's resolutions
  67. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  68. Secondhand smoke
  69. Creating a wellness vision
  70. Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting?
  71. Good posture tips
  72. Back exercises
  73. Proper lifting techniques
  74. Stay healthy during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
  75. Stop multitasking and focus
  76. Telemedicine online doctor visits
  77. Thirdhand smoke: What are the dangers?
  78. Want good health? Build a solid base
  79. The benefits of gratitude
  80. Video: Travel safely for medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  81. Travel Safety
  82. Triclosan
  83. Using if-then statements
  84. Vaccines for adults
  85. Fight coronavirus transmission at home
  86. What are superbugs?
  87. What are superbugs and how can I protect myself from infection?
  88. Air purifiers and smoke