8 habit tips to bridge to your overall health goals – EMS1.com

Ventilator or bag-valve-mask ventilation? Make the right decision!
Ventilator or bag-valve-mask ventilation? Make the right decision!
From FirstNet Built with AT&T
From FirstNet Built with AT&T
From FirstNet Built with AT&T
From the Editorial Director
Shift your mindset and identity to achieve and maintain your objectives

“Focused on improving overall health” was the top response to the “What paramedics want in 2023” survey question, “What non-work-related activities have you done in the past 3 years to manage your stress?” For the select all that apply question, 19% of respondents chose overall health over options like accessed clergy/chaplain/faith-based group, sought counseling services, sought new hobbies/activities and increased time with friends or family. 
It is good news that paramedics want to prioritize their overall health, which was described as a focus on sleep, nutrition and/or exercise. We should all strive to sleep more and better, eat less and better, and exercise more often. Reasonable goals for overall health might include: 
Sleep at least 7 hours per night 
Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day 
Lose 20 pounds  
Reaching those goals requires stopping bad unhealthy habits, adopting new healthy habits, continuing those habits to meet the goal and continuing the habit toward maintaining or reaching a new goal.  
New habits are the bridge between our current state and the goal state, but many health and wellness discussions overlook the importance of habits to achieving the goal state. Eat better and walk more aren’t habits; they are loose directives. A habit is regular, reoccurring and often done without consciously thinking about it. Habits become part of a daily routine that shapes our identity. A collection of habits is the difference between, “I go running” and “I am a runner.”  
The new self-identity shaped by the accumulation and repetition of habits, begets additional habits in support of the identity. When a goal transitions from “cook one healthy meal per day” to “become an expert home chef who specializes in cooking with locally sourced ingredients,” habits form, well beyond the kitchen, to meal planning, grocery shopping, creating community connections and building a new skillset.  
Are you focusing on improving your overall health? Do you have a goal you’d like to reach? Here are few habit tips to get from your current state of knowing you want to make a change to actually changing.  
Here are a few books on habits I have found useful. Send me a message with your book recommendations and other tips for forming lasting, healthy habits for improving overall health.  
“The 7 habits of highly effective people,” by Stephen R. Covey 
“How to change: The science of getting from where you are to where you want to be,” by Katy Milkman 
“Atomic habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones,” by James Clear 
Learn more from these EMS1 articles and videos: 
New beginnings: Anytime resolutions 
Worth every minute: 3 daily stress-relief habits  
Better eating habits for first responders    
On-demand webinar: A whole body approach to physical health  
How to start a food log to support your health  
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Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master's degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on Twitter or LinkedIn and submit an article idea or ask questions with this form.
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