23 Simple Habits to Change Your Life

Do you often promise that you won’t engage in your worst habits—then find yourself performing them without even thinking? Do you feel like you’ll never get the hang of the healthier habits that you’ve always dreamed of adopting? Does changing feel like an uphill battle? In this blog, you’ll discover 23 simple habits that will change your life and make it easier to ditch those unhealthy behaviors.

Mistakes and slip-ups are magnificent teachers, if we choose to learn from them instead of beating ourselves up.


Our brains are wired to adapt to our habits, making actions seem like second nature over time. The problem is, when we want to change our behaviors, it can feel difficult or impossible to create new routines. This is normal. And, with repetition, our replacement habits can also become second nature. We just have to get over the initial uncomfortable hump that accompanies starting any new practice.

The good news is, thanks to neuroplasticity, the brain can form new neural pathways through the ongoing implementation of healthy habits. It will take time, but you simply need to practice them until they become as automatic as brushing your teeth.

Consider these guidelines as you enact healthy changes in your life:

  • Ask yourself: Is this good for my brain or bad for it? This is the first step and the most important neuroscience secret to changing your habits. Before you make any decisions, take a moment to think whether it will improve your brain or harm it.
  • Identify what you want to change and why. Write it down for added accountability. Also identify the potential consequences of not changing, and be as specific as possible.
  • Avoid drastic or quick fixes in favor of long-term, sustainable practices. Even small changes add up.
  • Be easy on yourself throughout the process. Mistakes and slip-ups are magnificent teachers, if we choose to learn from them instead of beating ourselves up. Just get back on track as soon as possible and keep trying.
  • Establish a rhythm over the first 1 to 6 months. Everyone has their own timeline on how long it will take for a new habit to stick.
  • Celebrate your successes along the way to help reinforce the behavior.
  • Between 6 and 12 months, you’ll likely find that your new habits start to feel routine.


Want to start adding in some brain-healthy habits that will make it easier to leave your bad habits behind? Here are 23 ideas that you can easily implement right now:

  1. Get organized. Disorganized spaces create mental clutter and can stress you out. This can cause you to reflexively engage in habits that don’t serve you. Maintain order in the home to help prevent overwhelm.
  2. Avoid multitasking. The more we multitask, the less efficient we get. Lack of focus and distraction can become a daily norm. Concentrate on one thing at a time.
  3. Portion properly. Overeating is a way of life for many Americans. Recalibrate your sense of sensible portions by being aware of, and adhering to, appropriate serving sizes.
  4. Move every day. Exercise is an investment in our short-term mental health and our long-term cognitive function. It’s a must for feeling and thinking our best. Even a brisk walk counts!
  5. Exercise your mind. Replace bad habits with activities that stimulate your brain, such as sports, puzzles, reading, dancing—anything that gets you thinking.
  6. Start a health journal. Writing your goals and progress reveals behavior patterns and helps you meet objectives.
  7. Try teamwork. Starting a group with a united goal can help keep everyone accountable and inspired while making positive health changes.
  8. Practice sleep hygiene. Turn off electronics at least 1 hour before bed, maintain a dark space, and go to sleep and wake up at the same times. These are just some practices that encourage better sleep and better decision-making.
  9. Ditch the junk food. Ultra-processed foods, white rice and bread, and other high-sugar/low-fiber choices are associated with low energy levels, mental health issues, and even memory loss. These can get in the way of making changes in your life.
  10. Go for regular checkups. Know your most important health measurements, including body mass index (BMI), fasting blood glucose, and levels of vitamin D, C-reactive protein, and ferritin. Physical health problems are associated with reduced brain function, which can keep you locked in unhealthy daily practices.
  11. Take basic supplements. Modern diets are often lacking the nutrients we need. Supplements can help improve the mental power we need to stick to new habits.
  12. Avoid alcohol. Drinking even “moderate” amounts of alcohol is harmful to health. Excessive drinking is downright toxic to every system in the body and contributes to poor decision-making. Abstinence is best.
  13. Take responsibility. Blaming others and adopting a victim mentality keeps us feeling stuck and powerless in our bad habits. Instead, see your part in situations and work on what you can change.
  14. Question your ANTs. Automatic negative thoughts slowly destroy our mental health, creating depression, stress, and exhaustion. They keep us stuck in behaviors that don’t serve us.
  15. Be realistic. Toxic positivity, or refusing all negative thoughts, is not helpful either. Some level of anxiety keeps us on alert, promotes our safety, and motivates us to make healthy changes.
  16. Practice slowing down. Diaphragmatic breathing, tai chi, and meditation are just some ways to take a pause in your day, reduce stress, and distract you from engaging in unhealthy habits.
  17. Think before responding. If you’re in the habit of saying “yes” to things you want to say “no” to, take a pause. Think it over instead and make sure you truly have the willingness, time, and energy.
  18. Set aside screen-free time. Smartphones, TVs, tablets—our screens can become addictive. Try to avoid mindlessly picking up your devices.
  19. Enjoy nature. Time outdoors can reduce stress, boost mood, improve cognition, and get us away from those ever-present screens.
  20. Tell the truth. You don’t need to embrace a full-on “no filter” approach. Just be honest, especially with yourself, about your unhelpful habits.
  21. Process your emotions. Avoiding or suppressing your feelings can cause them to emerge in ways that perpetuate behaviors that harm your health.
  22. Challenge yourself. To break out of your rut, try something novel, like a new hobby or language. This keeps our brains sharp, active, and engaged.
  23. Embrace the process. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient, learn from your mistakes, and keep trying.

Depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Perfect strategy, that patience and commitment.

    Thank you for suggesting an excellent road map for our generation and next generations.

    Comment by Dina Mansour Aly — November 27, 2023 @ 8:22 AM

  2. Perfect strategy, that patience and commitment. Thank you for suggesting an excellent road map for our generation and next generations.

    Comment by Dina Mansour Aly — November 27, 2023 @ 8:22 AM

  3. Thank you for this Terrific list. I'm 76 and still learning every day. Many of these habits helped me to write my book, Learn Apply and Grow RICH (99cents/Amazon.) The list is Truly best practices. I've been reading Dr Amen since the late 1980s. If you read his books for 15 minutes each day, you will learn something every day. His new book: Change Your Brain Every Day is in a format that is ideal for the fast pace of today's world. Read and implement these 23 items and then read 15 minutes every night and keep learning.

    Comment by roland — November 27, 2023 @ 10:25 AM

  4. Thank you so much for the article. I have needed a guideline for so long. Thanks again

    Comment by Bobby williams — November 27, 2023 @ 11:31 AM

  5. excellent advice!

    Comment by Doug Morris — November 27, 2023 @ 2:42 PM

  6. I have been following Dr Amen and Tana for a few years now, through reading their website, listening to almost every podcast, and following their advice (unbeknown to them) they brought sanity back into my life.

    These 23 habits look easy, the process is not. But perseverance definitely pays off and your life will improve more than 10 fold.
    Thank you Dr Amen and Tana.

    Comment by Lynne — November 28, 2023 @ 2:12 AM

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