New Healthy Habits For The New Year

It’s always fun to come up with New Year’s resolutions and one of the most popular is to lose weight getting in better shape.  It is a worthwhile goal to pursue but there are many other healthy lifestyle habits than can also make a great resolution to kick off the brand new year.  Here are a few ideas – some old standbys but others you may not have thought of that just might motivate you into leading a healthier year ahead:

·         Reduce stress

We will always experience stress but when it is chronic, it can hurt your health by increasing the risk of insomnia, depression, obesity, and heart disease.  This year, make it a priority to relax and enjoy life more.  At least once a week, socialize with people you enjoy being around, get outdoors to watch a sunrise or sunset, get more sleep, have a massage or take a weekend getaway.  Do whatever it is you look forward to and plan ahead to make it happen.

·         Keep in touch

If it’s been a long time since you last connected with old friends or family, reach out to reconnect with them.  This year can be the year to mend the ties that have loosened over the years creating a loss of connection.  Research has shown people with strong social ties tend to live longer.  When we lack social bonds, our health is harmed, both physically and mentally.  Take the time to look them up through social media or with a phone call.  Everyone needs friends and when we nurture and cherish the bonds we share, it can enrich and reward our lives immensely. 

·         Quit smoking

There are more people who don’t smoke than do.  Don’t be a dinosaur.  Smoking is out of style and it is harming your health.  This year, you will quit.  Ask yourself what benefits are gained from smoking cigarettes.  Then ask yourself what do I gain from not smoking.  Here are a few – you’ll save cash, you will smell better, you won’t age so fast, you will have more energy, you will become healthier.   Quitting smoking can be done – don’t give up.

·         Volunteer

You may wonder how does volunteering benefit my health?  It helps by making you happier.  Happiness can definitely occur when we better ourselves but it also increases when we help others.  Find volunteer positions for interests you care deeply for and are passionate about.  Believing in and wanting to improve a situation can create positive emotions when you know you are making a difference.  When we feel happy and productive we tend to have better health.  Those positive feelings can make you more resilient and resourceful which reflects in your attitudes in all things you do.

·         Eat healthier

There are numerous ways to do this but here a few to work on for the coming year:

·         Eat more plant protein – you don’t have to be vegan but do include more beans, lentils, whole grains, and nuts to get higher intakes of health-promoting nutrients.

·         Switch sugary carbs for healthy fats – Cut way back on processed carbs such as white pasta and baked goods and instead focus on consuming more healthy fats found in nuts and seeds.

·         Slow down when eating – If you inhale your food, slow down.  Eating at a slower pace allows you time to get a sense of fullness making you less likely to overeat.  Practice eating mindfully by taking smaller bites, putting down your fork after each bite, and thoroughly chewing your food.

·         Get moving

This is your year to move as in becoming more physically active.  Find an activity you enjoy, start off slowly easing yourself into working out most days of the week. Whether it is yoga, running, dancing, walking, hiking, or swimming, they are all good making us a healthier person.  The human body is meant to move and you are the one who can make it happen. 

·         Keep a gratitude journal

Even if you don’t want to write it down, think of at least 3 things each day you are grateful for.  Even in the most drastic of situations, there can be glimpse of gratefulness we can hang onto.  When we look for the good in our lives, we can develop a sense of peace and well-being making us stronger and flexible in all circumstances.