5 scientifically-proven habits to improve your well-being

A sneak peek into Project A’s new Personal Coaching and Development Program: Habit building, part II

By Alena Hilbig

The first post in this series focused on adopting new habits and breaking free from old ones, presenting some helpful tips to build more effective and sustainable routines. But how do you know which approach or self-proclaimed expert to follow on your quest for better living?

We all want to feel healthier and happier, and luckily, there are genuine experts, extensive research, and clear evidence on what really improves our quality of life.

After analyzing numerous studies and experiments conducted by leading scientists and researchers, I composed a list of five things that hugely impact physical and mental health. TLDR: plant-rich diet, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, and hydration.

So let’s unpack and dig into the daily practices that are sure to boost your well-being.

  1. 🥕 Eat 30 different plant-based foods per week 🥜
    It’s all about fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains. Research shows this creates the healthiest gut microbiome, which profoundly impacts our mental and physical health and ensures we get enough fiber in our diet. 30 seems like a lot, but it sounds more digestible when calculating the different plant-based foods you eat every day and how many variations there can be in one meal.

    💡 Tip: Compared to typical store-bought products, preparing homemade muesli allows you to double the variety of seeds, nuts, or dried fruits. Mix in some fresh fruits, and you’ve already covered 8–10 plant-based foods.
  • 2. 🚰 Drink 2–3 liters of water per day 💧
    60–70% of the human body is composed of water, which is responsible for everything from regulating body temperature to transporting substances around, keeping the heart healthy, and transforming fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy sources that maintain brain function and so much more. Did you know that we typically lose around two glasses of water while sleeping? Drinking first thing in the morning helps your metabolism and restarts the digestive system.

    💡 Tip: I find plain water boring and struggle to drink enough. Why not add mint, lime, cucumber, basil, or any other flavor enhancer you like? Keeping a big water bottle or teapot on your desk will increase the likelihood of drinking more throughout the day.
  • 3. 🏃🏼 Exercise 150 minutes per week 🤸🏻‍♀️
    Studies show that regular exercise helps prevent and even treat many common diseases and improves mental health. 150 minutes of exercise a week significantly reduces depressive symptoms. However, as mentioned in the first post, tedious goals are less sustainable, so finding a workout that you enjoy and de-stresses your life is key.

    💡 Tip: You don’t need extensive cardio or HIIT sessions; it’s about moving your body and doing what fits best into your busy day. I recommend free yoga classes by Adriene or Mady Morrison (German only). Think about what you can incorporate into your current schedule: Bike to work? Get off the train one station before and walk the rest of the way? Ever tried walking meetings?
  • 4. 🛌🏻 Get 8 hours of sleep 💤
    Slipping into bed a little earlier to get that good night’s sleep sounds simple until you remember smartphones, children, annoying thoughts, and other distractions. But being well-rested has many health benefits, ranging from strengthening your immune system to preventing disease to safeguarding your mental health.

    💡 Tip: Replacing my phone with an alarm clock made a difference: My phone isn’t by the bed to distract and lure me into endless scrolling through my social feeds. By the way, are you convinced you’re one of those people who can function with six (or fewer) hours a night? This book might be as eye-opening for you as it was for me.
  • 5. 🧘🏽‍♀️ Be mindful for 10 minutes a day 🧠
    Training the mind is as important as physical exercise, though often neglected. The goal is to be present, aware of how we feel, and engage with what happens around us. In this sense, we can all be more mindful throughout the day: How we eat, work, and interact with those around us and how we spend our days. 10 minutes is a good way to start incorporating mindfulness into everything we do.

    💡 Tip: If you’d like some help getting started, try meditation apps like Headspace, which offers a 14-day free trial. Unlike physical exercise or healthier eating habits, mindfulness and meditation won’t affect your mental health immediately. It takes time, but it makes a real difference along the way. Be patient.

It’s interesting to see how once you ignore myths, bogus theories, and anecdotal stories, it comes down to only five fundamental, scientifically-proven actions.

But in reality, incorporating all those habits into your life at once isn’t easy, especially when you want to make long-term changes, so don’t rush it.

I suggest picking one new habit from this list and evaluating your well-being after some time. Once you have integrated it into your life, go ahead with the next one, and so on.

If you’re looking for personalized support, we’re excited to introduce Project A’s exclusive Personal Coaching and Development Program for founders, young leaders, and high-potential employees within and outside our portfolio companies. It’s a unique opportunity to work one-on-one with an experienced coach, set goals, and take action for sustainable change.

Have questions about habits? Need more input about the program? Reach out to us here or via our social media channels, and we’ll be happy to chat.

Which coaching or personal development topic would you like to read about next?