Updated: Dec 31, 2019
The new year marks an official calendar beginning, which is the perfect opportunity to reset our lives the way we ideally want to live them. With a “new year, new me” attitude and fresh resolutions, a new year often starts out feeling full of drive and promise, but can shift into something a little less grand and more realistic just weeks later. It’s good and healthy to have goals, but it’s important not to get overwhelmed with an agenda for self transformation. Instead, here are some small ways to practice better living.
In last week’s Medical Moment, we discussed some healthy habits that can easily be incorporated into daily routines and can bring positive life changes. Here are some simple ways to initiate and maintain healthy practices:
Watch: Weekly Medical Moment on Health Resolutions
For most people, getting a good amount of sleep can seem like a luxury, however, it should be treated as a necessity. According to an article by Medical News Today, regularly getting poor sleep can contribute to obesity, low job performance, emotional distress, a low perception of quality of life, as well as a higher risk for serious medical conditions. From work to family, to technological distractions, there are many varying factors that make it difficult for people to get the sleep they deserve.
To wind down at the end of the day, healthier habits can be substituted for old ones that may be preventing a good night’s sleep. For example:
Ditch the caffeine - Swap out a cup of coffee for a cup tea with relaxing natural properties like lavender or chamomile.
Avoid the screens - Opt to read a couple chapters of a good book, rather than starting at a screen within 30 minutes of sleep.
Though technology has a way of wiring the brain in a way that makes it difficult to fall asleep, there are some helpful apps that monitor sleep habits. Briefly using these apps to track your sleep before going to bed is a great way to monitor any positive results and changes from having more restful nights.
Diet & Exercise
One of the most popular new year’s resolutions is staying fit, but pursuing this goal can be done without beginning a strict diet or splurging on a gym membership. Watching what you eat doesn’t have to mean eating bland healthy foods and never enjoying family favorite dishes- it simply means being mindful of what's going into the body, and making better food choices. Likewise, maintaining physical strength and mobility doesn't require money or even leaving the house.
Consistency is key - carve out at least 10 minutes of regular exercise a day to build strength and endurance. Whether it's a brisk walk or indoor calisthenics, regularly practicing physical activity can be helpful in preventing injuries and maintaining health.
Cut out the bad stuff - An easy way to get started in making healthy food choices is to cut out the harmful things like sodas, fried & processed foods, sweets and/or artificial sweeteners, and replacing them with organic snacks, all natural sweeteners, and fresh or grilled foods. Remember that the occasional indulgence is reasonable, but daily consumption of unhealthy foods can lead to serious long term health issues.
These types of changes to physical activity and daily diet may not be easy to make overnight, but making small adjustments and sticking to them can bring positive benefits that are worth the effort. With a few minor, consistent moderations to daily life, there may be some major results in energy and even appearance.
Self-care can mean different things for different people, but for everyone who practices it, the goal is to reach a sense of overall wellness and peace. Ironically, caring for others who are sick causes great stress that can end up making us sick ourselves. This year, make it a point to prioritize your well-being by practicing the things that help you relieve stress.
Don’t neglect your hobbies - it’s easy for caregivers to get swept up in looking after a sick loved one. Focusing on a beloved hobby can help caregivers bring back a piece of themselves that may have gotten lost in caring for others.
Connect with others - Having meaningful moments of human interaction is not only pleasant, but healthy. Being able to vent to friends on a phone call or catch up with other loved ones over lunch can be help us take a load off and step outside of the stresses that come with dealing with illness.
These are just some ideas that hopefully motivate you to start living healthier and happier this year.