How to Set and Achieve your Health and Wellbeing Goals
Health and wellbeing are important for good quality of life and so setting and achieving wellness goals is in your best interests. Health and wellbeing goals can range from exercise goals that keep you at optimal health physically to goals that promote mental health and wellbeing.
Health and wellness goals can offer your life balance between good physical health and good mental wellbeing, with the two being very closely linked. Health, in itself, is not about simply being free from disease but is about lots of interrelated things and health goals help you to find a balance between these things.
Setting and achieving health goals, like healthy eating and exercise goals, will help us all to lead healthy lives and boost everything from mental health to reproductive health to digestive health. We've been taking a look at the kinds of goals you can set and how they can help you to achieve good overall health.
To find out how you can set and achieve a health goal, and why it is important to look after your health - keep reading now.
What is good health and wellbeing?
When it comes to health, the idea is that you are not merely free from disease but that you are in good and complete physical, mental, and social health. Health encompasses both physical and mental health and both look different when they're good and when they're bad. To find out how both should look when they are good, check out the next section.
Physical health relates to the body and its functions. At peak physical health, all of the body's functions are working at their optimum for your body. Good physical health tends to come with good nutrition from a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise that gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping, and good sleep.
A good and balanced diet is a diet that is rich in whole foods and grains, like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread, pasta and crackers, along with lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and sunflower oil, and lots and lots of water!
A balanced diet is intended to nourish your body and provide all of the right vitamins and minerals for its proper functioning. You can also supplement a good diet with extra vitamins and minerals, like multivitamins, fish oil capsules for omega-3, and superfoods, like acai powder, for antioxidants.
As for exercise, it is recommended that you get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. And, when it comes to sleep, getting between 7 - 9 hours of sleep is recommended for adults. If you're having trouble sleeping, there are a few things you can do, including:
- Drinking chamomile tea before bed
- Soaking in a bath with relaxing bath salts
- Diffusing lavender essential oil, or essential oil blends for sleep
- Taking a magnesium supplement
If your sleep problems don't go away with natural remedies, speak with someone in the health workforce who can advise you of any sleep disorders and their treatments.
Mental health and wellbeing
Good mental health looks similar in most people and includes:
- Feeling good and positive about yourself and your life
- Being able to form good and healthy relationships with other people
- Being resilient and progressing even when things get difficult
- Being able to express and manage a range of emotions in a healthy way
- Being able to deal with stress well and finding ways to handle stressful and high-pressure situations
- Having a sense of purpose and feeling like your life has meaning
- Being able to deal with change well
Good mental health and wellbeing take work. There are a number of ways you can boost your mental wellbeing, especially if you are feeling low. Many people turn to mindfulness and meditation for good mental health as these practices can pull you back to the present, ground you and remind you to live in the moment.
Other good ways to boost mental health include regular exercise, good physical health, spending time with friends and family, having downtime to relax, finding a balance between work and other life commitments, and finding a hobby.
Mental health can have a direct impact on physical health and vice versa. This is why it is important to keep both of them in good working order.
Why is good health and wellbeing important?
So, why is it important that your health and well being is good?
Overall wellness is important for a number of reasons and following practices that promote well-being will help you to lead a better life. There are many important reasons to boost your health and well being and these include:
- Having a better quality of life - Feeling good in yourself and being healthy enough to be able to do the things you want to can mean you get to lead the life you want without your health stopping you. Good quality of life means being able to properly enjoy it.
- Your body will be in good working order - If your body is healthy, it can fight off diseases and viruses easily. It can also get you around and help you to experience life at its best.
- Mental and physical health are linked - As we've discussed already, mental and physical health are linked so if one is in good working order, the other is more likely to be. Having good physical health might be the change that is needed to improve your mental health.
- Able to deal with changes and cope with stress - Good mental health means being able to deal with these things, and with the help of good physical health, you'll be able to cope more easily with the changes that are inevitable in life.
There is a tonne of other reasons to get your mental and physical health on top form and it is these motivations that encourage people to set personal health and well-being goals.
How to set health and wellbeing goals
You might be wondering at this point how you should set health and wellness goals, what kind of goals should you set and how you can set goals that are achievable.
We've had a look at some of the best methods for setting goals and the most successful goals are the ones set using the SMART goals acronym. But what does SMART stand for and how can it help you to set goals that promote well-being?
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely and each word references a different way of setting goals. Below we've summarised how each of these words works in relation to goal setting.
Specific, the first word in the SMART goals acronym, refers to goals that are detailed and unambiguous. This means that a goal has a very clear end - for example, 'exercise more,' is a very unspecific goal. 'Exercise more,' can be interpreted in a number of ways meaning you'll never actually achieve your goal because it's unclear what it is.
A goal like 'be able to do ten press-ups,' is much more specific as it sets an actual goal. You have achieved this goal when you can do ten press-ups meaning you can actually tell when it is done!
The next word is measurable. This means that your goals need to be something that is tangible enough to be measured. As with the previous examples, 'exercise more,' isn't measurable in any real sense. Yes, you can tell if you have exercised more than usual but if you never ever exercise then a quick walk once a week could be seen as an achievement of this goal, but so could a resistance band work out every other day - there is no actual measure.
'Be able to do ten press-ups,' is a better goal because it is measurable. You will know when you have achieved the goal because you will be able to do TEN press-ups. The key here is the number. You need a goal that is quantifiable.
The third word in the SMART acronym could be the most important. If your goal is completely impossible then you're very unlikely to be motivated to do it. If you set astronomical goals that are too difficult to get done, your brain is going to tell you as such. Setting small and achievable goals is best for your brain.
Small and achievable goals give us a sense of reward too. Each time you meet one of the goals, you will be rewarded by the win and so more likely to continue working toward the next goal. Rewards make us happy and happiness makes us want to try more!
The fourth word, relevance, is about the personalisation of your health and wellness goals. Your goals should be set in accordance with your needs, motivations and overall goals, so while an internet list of suggested goals can be good for inspiration, sticking to someone else's goals is unlikely to inspire much motivation in you.
Relevant goals should inspire you to try harder to meet them. For example, if you want to get into the habit of running for your health, your goals should align with the idea of building a habit. Perhaps you're training for a marathon; your goals should align with this end goal. Or maybe you want to lose weight for a specific event, setting goals that put this as the central motivation will ensure you stick at the goals.
Having a central motivation that keeps pushing you gives you the vision you need to keep working towards and sometimes this image is the biggest motivator there can be. (Indeed, some people even create vision boards, change their phone backgrounds, or stick an actual picture of their goals up to motivate them.)
And finally, goals set in accordance with the SMART acronym need to be timely.
If we look back at those original examples, 'exercise more,' could be made timely by adding 'this year,' but it still doesn't become a very specific, or SMART goal. 'Be able to do ten press-ups,' while quantifiable and specific, lacks a time limit. By changing this goal to 'be able to do ten press-ups by the end of the month,' you're giving yourself a limit in which to achieve the goal.
When it comes to timings, we would always suggest a short time limit. Short time limits and small goals are the best ways to ensure you stay motivated as you will be able to see the end and celebrate each little win in your journey to the big goal.
Set goals per month, or every couple of months, so that you can actually see the results building. If you set yourself a goal that will take a year to achieve, you're more likely to give up after a few months of feeling like you're not achieving things. By breaking this one big goal down into lots of little goals, you can push yourself through each reward to stay motivated.
Top tips for achieving health and wellbeing goals
Now you've set your goals using the SMART acronym, ensuring they're small, achievable and personalised to you, it's time to learn the different ways you can actually achieve these goals. While setting SMART goals should help you to stay on track by their nature, there are a few different things you can do to ensure that you achieve your health and wellness goals.
Below are our top tips for actually achieving your health and wellbeing goals.
One of the best ways to make sure you stay on top of your goals is accountability. Whether you join a running group, the FitBit community, or you make a social media post each time you achieve a goal, you're holding yourself accountable for achieving goals and boosting your wellbeing.
Setting realistic goals
The aim of SMART goals is to ensure that your goals are actually realistic. Don't set goals you know you will never be able to achieve as it can demotivate you. If you know you don't have the time to get to the gym every night, then don't set it as a goal. Look at your life and work out how much you can take on each time you set a goal.
Change things up
If you get into a lull with your goals, start to feel demotivated, or are just bored - changing your regime can help you to stay on track and keep you focused on the goals you've set. If your exercise routine is no longer attractive to you, or the foods you're eating are just not hitting the spot, change things!
Every time you hit a goal, you should acknowledge it somehow. Reminding yourself of all you have achieved is one of the best ways to keep moving forward and it can help you to progress. With larger goals, you could allow yourself a physical treat, like your favourite meal or a pair of shoes you really want, and for smaller goals, even just a pat on the back can help you feel motivated to keep moving.
Keep a healthy mindset
This is particularly important if you miss a goal. You should keep reminding yourself that setbacks are all a part of the process and are to be expected. Keeping motivated and staying positive can sometimes be difficult if you're not seeing any results and so you could try documenting your results and checking over them whenever you feel negative.
Have a plan and a backup plan
Setting out your goals in a plan is a good way to stay on top of the things you need to do. For meals, set out a plan each week so that you have a clear idea of what you're eating each day and make your shopping experience better too. For exercise, make a monthly plan, factoring in any time when you won't be able to exercise.
A backup plan could look like an exercise regime for when you're on holiday, or the gym is closed, or you're under the weather. For meals, a backup plan could be having healthy granola stocked up for when your muesli runs out, are having a healthy alternative to wholemeal pasta available for when it's out of stock.
Make time for rest
When following new exercise or health regimes, rest is imperative. Ensuring that you get enough sleep (7 - 9 hours for adults) and that it is quality sleep means allowing your body the time to reset, recharge, and replenish.
Struggling to sleep may mean that your sleeping pattern isn't working for you. If you are having issues with getting enough quality sleep, try taking a melatonin supplement or drink valerian root tea before bed.
Good health is imperative for a healthy life and if you're looking to boost yours, you might be thinking of setting some goals. Whether your health goal is something simple like eating better, scouting your local reproductive health care services, or getting universal health coverage, or it is something more complex like building specific muscles and protecting yourself from global health risks, setting SMART goals is the best thing you can do.
We have covered everything there is to know about setting and achieving health goals here - now it's your turn to try it out!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some health and wellness goals?
There are lots of examples of health and wellness goals, from eating better and enjoying time outdoors to heading to the gym a few times a week and running 5km a day - but the best goals are the personal ones. When it comes to setting health and wellness goals you should always set goals that are achievable and will help you to meet your overall goals.
What are health goals?
Health goals are aims you have set out that pertain to your health and boost it along the way. To be in better shape healthwise, you may decide to set health goals. Setting health goals means giving yourself small tasks to achieve your overall goal of better health. Set SMART goals with your overall motivation in mind.
How do you write health goals?
Setting SMART goals is the best way to write out your health goals. When writing them down, ensure they pertain to all of the words in the SMART acronym and are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. This is the best chance you have of setting realistic and achievable goals.
What is a good health SMART goal?
The best SMART health goals are the personal ones. While you can find plenty of suggestions for good health goals online, you should set yours to ensure that they will help you to meet your overall goals and that they are achievable and realistic for you. Always aim to set small goals so that you can see your success and so that the sense of achievement keeps you motivated each time you hit a goal.