How Anchor Habits Can Help Us Thrive: Self-Care Habits for Wellness

By Angelique Sobol, communications specialist on the Health Engagement team at Harvard Pilgrim

As the seasons change, our daily routines change too—particularly our well-being habits. And as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, now is a great time to establish a few basic self-care habits, also known as anchor habits. Anchor habits are small, core routines that are ingrained within us like getting up each day or, for some, exercising. Once you have an anchor habit, it’s also easier to continue adding to your routine and achieving more.

For example, one of my own anchor habits is to do three Half Sun Salutations first thing in the morning. Doing this daily automatically helps me to stretch and breathe deeply, which gets circulation going and clears the cobwebs from my head. It’s not taxing or difficult. And most importantly, it takes less than 60 seconds to do. Quick and easy, too easy not to do it.

With anchor habits, consistency is more important than quality or quantity.

What I’ve found by completing this one daily habit is that it makes it much easier for me to stick to other healthy habits throughout the day. For instance, after completing my Half Sun Salutations, I find myself wanting to drink a glass of water. I don’t have to make myself do it, it’s automatic. That’s how anchor habits work. They are simple acts that bring you back to center when you start to drift away. They can help you persist and even thrive during challenging times.

With anchor habits, consistency is more important than quality or quantity. Some days when I feel extra energized, I might do five salutations; other days, I can only do one. There’s flexibility, but the key is that I always do something. Consistency is a key component of strong wellness habits. The more you consistently do it, the more you’re giving it an opportunity to benefit you.

Start off small; try establishing one healthy anchor habit. This will help set a foundation to carry you through the year.

Here are some ideas of daily anchor habits:

  • Drink a glass of water in the morning.
  • Meditate for five minutes.
  • Get outside, even for a few minutes.
  • Take a break from digital screens, particularly before bedtime.
  • Stretch for one minute.
  • Go on a walk.
  • Connect with a friend or family member.
  • Create a to-do list with two or three important tasks to accomplish.

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