We kick off each New Year with resolutions and plans to change things in our lives. Surveys show that roughly 45% of these resolutions are geared towards our health.
To help you start the New Year off right and reach your health and wellness goals, we’ve compiled the following seven healthy habits to embrace as we move into 2019.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress can have long-term effects on your health, including digestive issues, headaches, trouble sleeping, depression, anger or anxiety.
With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense to find ways to reduce and manage stress in order to improve health.
Consider paring down your to do list as one way to reduce stress. What do you need to accomplish today? What can be done later this week? What can be delegated? Is there anything you can just cross off completely? Long to do lists can be a cause of overwhelm and stress for anyone, so cutting it down to the basics can help to alleviate those feelings.
You can also try taking some time during the day to slow down and breathe. Focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. Quite often this focus on the breath takes our mind off the busyness of our lives, which provides a sense of calm and relief.
A key factor in our health is physical activity. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym — it just means moving your body. This can include walking, hiking, sports and other activities.
When it comes to prioritizing exercise, it’s important to find something you enjoy doing. Forcing yourself to go to the gym every day can be stressful, and, as we’ve seen, additional stress won’t help you to become healthier. By finding a physical activity you enjoy, you’re more likely to make the time to do it.
If you have a family, you might also consider making fitness a family affair. Take the kids for a walk, a hike or play outdoors. This promotes bonding with your children and health for everyone.
Of course, we would be remiss if we did not mention that eating healthfully plays a role in your well-being.
Where most lists might tell you to focus on healthier versions of your favorite foods or to stop eating other foods (and these aren’t bad ideas!), we suggest adding in more healthy foods. Over time, you will find that adding in these healthy options crowds out some of the less healthy options, and change becomes organic and easy.
When you’re adding in healthy foods, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure that you have healthy snacks and meals on hand, otherwise the temptation to pick up something quick and easy (and unhealthy) will get the best of you.
Staying hydrated is vital to your health. Water helps your body to maintain temperature, remove waste, promote overall health and lubricate your joints.
Dr. Seifter, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, suggests drinking 30-50 ounces of water a day.
A simple way to remind yourself to drink more fluids is to carry around a water bottle. If you have a 16 oz. water bottle, you will know you need to drink 2-3 a day to maintain proper hydration.
Sleep plays a crucial role in your health. Getting enough quality sleep impacts your quality of life, mental health, physical health and safety.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, poor sleep, or lack of sleep, can lead to chronic health issues, including increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
To improve your sleep, make sure that you are getting consistent rest by going to bed and waking up at the same time. Before you go to sleep, make sure that you are avoiding electronics and stimulating products, such as nicotine or caffeine. You might also try creating a sleep routine where you spend some time quietly reading or relaxing before going to bed.
Eating too much added sugar can increase your risk of heart disease, according to this study by JAMA Network.
Added sugars can be found in all kinds of products. To make sure that you are not consuming too much, make sure that you are reading ingredients labels on food products. Check the ingredients to see if there are sugars listed, and check the nutrition facts to see how many grams of sugar are in a serving. The American Heart Association suggests a maximum of 25 grams of sugar per day for women and 37.5 grams of sugar per day for men.
While a long to do list can add stress to your life, a gratitude list can actually reduce stress. Studies done at Berkeley have shown that gratitude is good for your psychological health, and preliminary research is showing it may be good for your physical well-being as well.
Get in the habit by keeping a journal and writing down 5-10 things each day that you are thankful for.