Resolutions are a popular topic of discussion at the start of each new year. And while many come out of the gate strong, the majority of resolutions are dropped after just a few months. Often times it’s because we make a big, generic goal that isn’t attainable without a realistic plan of gradual steps to achieve it. However, small changes that are sustainable over a long period of time are usually more successful. Below we break down ten easy habits you can develop this year that will make a big difference in your overall health.
1. Start with a glass of water. Really.
Proper hydration is extremely important to our diet and overall health. As we sleep, our body loses water. This is why so many of us wake up a little foggy first thing in the morning; we have become dehydrated overnight. Start an easy healthy habit this year: Wake up. Walk to the kitchen. Fill a 16 oz. cup with fresh water and drink it. Do this daily.
Congrats! Before your day has even started, you’ve accomplished something healthy for your body. Bring a full water bottle to work and carry that positive momentum with you throughout the day.
2. Add one vegetable a week into your diet.
Encourage yourself to eat healthier by committing to eating just one additional vegetable a week. Hide some spinach in a smoothie, add broccoli or asparagus to your stir-fry or pasta sauce, or eat kale chips or carrot sticks as a nighttime snack. You can get creative or mix them into your favorite dishes as a place to start.
3. Go take a walk.
It’s no secret that physical activity is a key element of good health. But it can be daunting to start. What type of exercise should I do? Do I need special equipment? A gym membership? To get started, all you really need is a good pair of supportive walking shoes, a timer (your smartphone has one), and a little motivation.
Tomorrow morning, set a timer for five minutes. Walk down the street until the timer goes off. Then turn around and walk back. You just completed a solid 10 minutes of morning cardio. Do the same thing the next day, except set the timer for six minutes. Repeat this pattern until you’ve worked your way up to a 20-30 minute walk. Do this 3-5 days a week, and guess what? You now have an exercise routine.
4. Visit your doctor.
Getting examined regularly by your healthcare practitioner is important for many reasons. Having an annual checkup and staying up to date on your vaccinations are simple ways to keep your body feeling its best. Don’t forget about preventive screenings either. These can help spot potential problems before they turn into something more serious. Whether it’s a simple blood pressure and cholesterol check or a needed mammogram or colonoscopy, make sure it’s on your calendar.
5. Take care of your teeth
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is another easy way to maintain optimal overall health. Just like the doctor’s office, checkups and cleanings with your dentist should not be missed. Many might not realize, but gum disease can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and even premature, underweight births. Make great dental hygiene an easy resolution on your list, especially while pregnant.
6. Get enough sleep.
Just like exercise, sleep is something we know we need to do more. But also like exercise, it can get pushed off because we are so busy. A good night’s rest is very important for both your physical and mental health. When you haven’t had a proper night’s rest, your cognitive performance slows. You can’t remember things as well, think as critically or creatively, and your reaction time and hand-eye coordination is not as quick. This is why proper sleep is a great item to prioritize for your health this year.
Eight hours of sleep is recommended for adults each night. Create a nighttime routine to get into the habit of going to bed on time. Start by setting an alarm on your phone to remind you that it’s time for bed. Next, put the screens away. Bright lights right before bed can make you more alert. Instead, try to wind down by reading, praying, or meditating for a few minutes to put the stressors of the day away. Treat yourself to a new pillow or comfy blanket if you need it and relax as you enjoy this healthy resolution.
7. Cut back on sweetened beverages.
Consuming sugary drinks such as pop, flavored coffees and teas, and even some juices in excess is linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cavities in both children and adults. Quitting these sweetened beverages cold turkey can be a tough goal to maintain. Instead, try gradually minimizing these drinks in your diet for a better chance at success. If you consume multiple sugary beverages a day, try limiting them to just one per day or simply using a sugar-free creamer in your coffee. After you’ve got that down, maybe try one every other day, or just one per week. You can still have them occasionally, but this way they will feel more like a reward or special treat.
8. Take more “me time” and practice self-care.
Taking time for yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s imperative for optimal mental health. This is especially true for those in caretaker roles. So how do we fit “me time” in our busy schedules? Self-care does not have to be elaborate or time consuming. Maybe it’s giving yourself time for a relaxing bath each week, enjoying a glass of wine on the deck with no interruptions for a half hour, watching your favorite TV show each week, or calling a sitter to enjoy a nice dinner with your significant other. It doesn’t matter how you choose to relax, but a little self-care is worth the investment.
9. Limit screen time.
Many people depend on their phones and computers for work and entertainment. However, spending too much time on electronic devices — particularly on social media — has been linked to depression and anxiety. Setting a resolution to cut back on the time you spend scrolling through social media, news sites, or watching TV may help boost your mood and enhance productivity.
10. Don’t self-sabotage!
If you have a slip up in your new exercise or diet goals, don’t allow a bad day to dismantle your momentum. One bad day does not mean you can’t get right back in the groove the next day. No one is perfect. We are going to have bad or stressful days where we just don’t quite meet our target. That is okay! And it certainly does not undo all the progress you have made so far. Learn to forgive yourself and start again the next day.
Though most New Year’s resolutions are only kept for a short period, the healthy habits listed above are very attainable ways to improve your physical and emotional health. They can also be followed no matter your age or body type. Choose to put your best foot forward and make 2023 healthier and happier with these simple goals.