Your 20s are typically a whirlwind of independence, soul-searching, hyper-socialization and figuring out exactly who you are. These lifestyle tricks will help you along the way.

People in their 20’s often experience rapid and frequent changes. Increased responsibilities; moving to and from college or out of your parents home; significant personal relationships grow or dissipate; financial stress becomes more tangible; and planning for the future tends to take place of spontaneity. Adopting these 10 habits can help you create a solid foundation for a stress-free, inspired, fulfilled life .

1. Pay attention to your diet

People in their 20s eat 25 percent more fast food than they did in their teens, according to a Brown University research study. In college, it’s tough to eat well and those habits tend to stick throughout the 20s, unfortunately so do the pounds. It’s important to start making healthy eating choices even if you are on the go. A balanced diet that incorporates veggies, fruits, proteins, dairy and carbohydrates is incredibly important and the sooner you adopt healthy eating habits, the more likely you are to avoid serious health complications related to carrying around extra weight. Eating on a budget doesn’t have to be unhealthy and eating healthy doesn’t have to mean flavorless, boring options.

2. Stay hydrated

Many people in their 20’s start reaching for coffee more than ever before and bouncing from social event to social event usually involves alcohol consumption. Katherine Gibson, MD, assistant professor of clinical family medicine at Keck Medicine of USC, can’t stress how important your water intake is and why it matters. “Stay hydrated. The best way to do this is by keeping a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day. For optimal health, make sure to drink between 40 to 60 ounces a day. Staying well hydrated can help you maintain your energy level, improve your mood, prevent constipation, prevent headaches, prevent kidney stones and help with weight loss.”

3. Take breaks

Many people find themselves behind a computer and sedentary while navigating grueling hours at the start of their careers. It’s important to take breaks from your screen. Whether you are studying for an advanced degree, getting ahead at a new company or simply several months deep on a friends Instagram feed, taking the time to unplug and digitally detox can have an incredibly positive impact on your health. If you can go outside that’s even better. Studies have shown spending time in nature increases health and happiness, while reducing stress.

4. Maintain meaningful friendships

Friendships likely require more effort in your 20’s than they did before. Your best friend isn’t your next door neighbor like when you were a kid and by your mid 20’s they likely aren’t in a neighboring dorm or the adjacent cubicle. People begin navigating different milestones, challenges and lifestyle choices at different times in their 20’s and this can quickly cause people to lose track of meaningful relationships.  Research has also shown that men and women with no close friends were 50 percent more at risk to have a first-time heart attack. Make time for meaningful relationships with friends and while you’re at it, give them a hug. Hugs release oxytocin which as been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.

5. Read

Reading becomes more of a choice than a requirement in your 20s, but it’s a habit you should integrate into your life for your brain health. Reading requires different patterns of brain activation. This helps you keep your cognitive skills sharp. Reading also improves concentration, boosts empathy and relieves stress.

6. Exercise

The older we get, the harder it is to find the time to exercise. Exercise is important for emotional, mental and physical health. As your metabolism slows down, staying active becomes even more important. It’s much easier to shed a few extra pounds than it is to get motivated to lose 20 pounds. Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle may not be as difficult as you think and doesn’t mean you have to become a gym rat. Group hikes, volunteer dog walking and trying out rock climbing or other fun activities can help you sneak more physical movement into your week are beneficial and enjoyable.

7. Create healthy habits

Habits help us create routines. Start small. Just pick one habit and promise yourself you will stick with it. It could range from going to sleep at the same time every night, meditating when you wake up or making sure you get to your favorite fitness class each week. These habits will quickly become part of your routine, which will help you maintain healthy habits. Maintaining healthy habits can be difficult when it’s sporadic, but routine healthy habits are a part of necessary self-care that allows you to be present, motivated and happy.

8. Sleep

Inadequate sleep is starting to become a real health concern . “We wear our lack of sleep like a badge of honor,” says Keck Medicine of USC sleep specialist Raj Dasgupta. But, it’s nothing to boast about. Lack of sleep can have a serious impact on your psychological and physical wellbeing. It’s important to try to get eight hours of rest each night, even if it means ducking out of the party before midnight.

9. Invest in yourself

Boost your confidence, stay engaged, be cognoscente of good and bad habits and keep developing as a person. Your 20’s may feel like a lifetime away from your teen years, but creating healthy habits now will ensure you create a solid, healthy foundation for the decades to come.

10. See a physician annually

People in their 20s may not see a physician as often as they should. However, there are many important reasons why adults in their 20s should regularly see their primary care physicians. The best thing you can do is get ahead of any potential problems that may arise. Remind them to schedule an annual appointment with their primary care physician.

If you are in the Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge or the surrounding Foothill communities, and you are looking for exceptional care from a community hospital that cares, schedule your appointment by calling (818) 790-7100.

By Louise Cobb