The beginning of a new year often has us resolving to do life better. January sees more new gym memberships than any other month of the year. Personal trainers and physicians see an uptick in clients and patients, as the new year encourages us to refocus on our health. The problem is, by February, nearly all of those who kicked off the year high on the motivation to get fitter and more healthier have lost all ambition and are back on the couch, binging on Netflix and potato chips.
We think the reason this burnout happens so quickly is that too many of us try the “go big or go home” mindset when it comes to health and fitness over “slow and steady wins the race,” though the latter has been proven over and over again as the most successful attitude and avenue to follow to get and stay healthy for the long term. In today’s blog, we’re sharing 8 simple steps you can begin taking right now to start your journey to a healthier, happier you.
Make sleep a priority. Though the recommended amount varies slightly depending on your age group, adults of every age need at least seven hours of sleep, according to experts. One way to make sleep a priority is to establish a bedtime routine that helps prepare your body for sleep, like drinking a cup of herbal tea and reading a couple of chapters of a good book to unwind before hitting the sack. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington suffered serious complications from exhaustion due to lack of sleep and now has an entire section of her popular news site dedicated to sleep wellness. It’s full of great advice articles like this one about poor bedtime habits that may be ruining your sleep, which gives you an idea of how to create a good bedtime routine. Another easy way to add more sleep is to begin by going to bed 30 minutes earlier. Thirty minutes of extra sleep may not seem like that big of a deal until you realize your mood, your steps and your overall day are a little bit lighter and brighter because you feel well rested. If you are suffering from sleep problems such as insomnia or snoring, now may be the time to seek help from your medical provider.
Wake up and give your body what it needs. There are three essentials we can all agree our bodies need to live–water, oxygen, and movement. Interestingly enough, giving our body those three essentials at the start of our day can drastically improve not only the entire day but also our lives. Health experts agree that drinking a glass of water first thing will wake up your organs and make you feel more energized than any cup of coffee. Experts also agree that starting off your morning with a few deep breathing exercises, daily meditation or prayer relieves stress and improves your overall mood and focus for the rest of the day. They also agree that taking a few minutes for stretching exercise helps get rid of the stiffness and achiness you may have become accustomed to experiencing.
Relax more. Each day, you should carve out at least 5 minutes to rest and relax. Whether it’s a brief breathing and meditation exercise, reading a chapter in your current book or vegging out on the couch to watch a 30-minute sitcom at the end of your day, make taking time to chill out a daily priority. Just don’t let your relaxation time morph into a couch potato lifestyle. Read on to learn why.
Get moving. As we discussed in a recent blog, sitting too much can do more damage to your health than smoking. This is because our bodies are made to stay in motion! One simple way to add more movement to your day is to go for a short walk during work breaks, especially if you sit at a desk most of the day. You can also add more steps to your day by purposely being inefficient or inconvenient to yourself. For instance, instead of waiting five minutes for Joe Somebody to move out of that parking space that’s just a few feet away from the front door go for the parking space at the end of the aisle and walk! You can also take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the mailbox instead of driving to it and find a hobby like gardening or hiking that promotes physical activity.
Clean out and rearrange the contents of your fridge. One of the best ways to change what you eat is to clean out your fridge and pantry. Throw out the junk food and rearrange the items left over to be the first things you see when you open the fridge or pantry door. Move your healthy foods to the top shelves and whatever junk food you didn’t throw out to the bottom. Simply putting healthier choices in your first line of sight encourages you to choose better.
Read nutrition labels. Sure, reading every nutrition label on the foods you’re interested in will make your grocery store trip last longer, but we promise it will be worth it. Because when you see some of the preservatives, sugars and bad fats that are being dumped into your favorite foods, you’ll think twice before consuming them again. This is a great first step to learning how to shop for and eat healthier food choices.
Be more social. As much as we like to Netflix and chill in the comforts and privacy of our own home, life is truly lived in the presence of others. Humans were made to be social creatures and when we’re around other humans we love it makes us happier. Schedule weekly lunch dates with friends, or join a hobby, recreational or social group to meet new people. If you’re religious, make gathering with your fellowship of believers a priority each week. And don’t forget to give out hugs while you’re there! Researchers believe this one act of kindness can improve your mood (and theirs) for the entire day.
Write it down. From daily tasks to grocery store runs to random thoughts that cross your mind, writing things down helps you focus and organize your thoughts, which in turn, decreases anxiety and helps you be more productive with your day. Keeping a journal is a creative outlet that can also help battle depression and anxiety. If you need a bit of motivation to write more, check out the local bookstore or an online retailer like Amazon to shop stationery products. From to-do lists to letters to journal papers, there’s a stationery product for that!
One last tip to being healthier in 2019 is this–visit your medical provider for a yearly checkup. Wellness checkups offer the opportunity for your provider to understand the state of your overall health and it gives you the chance to address any concerns you have, including concerns about your mental health. Don’t wait, schedule your 2019 annual wellness checkup with EliteCare today.