3 Simple Ways to Create Healthy Change This Year
By Heidi Baldwin, Holistic Health Coach
2020 is finally behind us, and it seems that most of us are excited to have bid farewell to this year in particular. Regardless of what happens in this New Year, you can set the tone for your personal life in a positive light by incorporating three healthy habits that will serve you well for years to come.
If you have trouble sticking to New Year’s resolutions (and believe me, you’re not alone!), why not work on these healthy habits which are easy to follow no matter what’s happening in the world around you!
1. Jump on the meal-planning wagon!
Perhaps one of your resolutions each year is to eat healthier foods. You start off with the best of intentions, but then life gets hectic and your schedule becomes busy, and before you know it you go back to your old ways. Does this sound familiar? Instead of getting caught in the chaos, start meal planning.
I always encourage participants in my seasonal detoxes to set aside some time on the weekend on to do some food prep (Sunday is usually a good option so that your food is fresher). There are many things you can do ahead of time to make meal time run more smoothly throughout the week. Here are just a few ideas:
- Pre-cut veggies, so they are ready to use when you need them (I don’t recommend cutting onions too far in advance, and they should be sealed tight in a container in your fridge).
- Pre-cook a large meal that you can divide up into containers to bring to work for several days.
- Cook a large batch of quinoa that you can use in salads, or to make various dishes throughout the week.
- Put together containers of pre-measured smoothie ingredients and have them on hand in your freezer so you can grab one each morning and just pour it into your blender, add your liquid, blend, and go!
- Roast veggies for the week and store them in appropriately sized storge containers for easy re-heating throughout the week.
- Use mason jars to prep your salads for the next few days. (You can find many examples of how to build salads this way on various websites).
- Make a stock pot of your favorite soup. You can enjoy the soup for lunch during the week, freeze some of it for quick meals when you’re too busy to cook, and be sure to enjoy a fresh bowl when it finishes cooking!
During downtime, take a moment to look at healthy meals you can prepare ahead. Mix it up and try new things. Build a shopping list that makes it easy to craft numerous healthy meals from the same base of ingredients. And then let your slow cooker, Instant Pot, and other kitchen tools help you get the job done.
Freezing leftovers properly will ensure you always have healthy and delicious meals at the ready. When you get home from work and realize you forgot to plan dinner, you will only have to grab it from the freezer and heat it up. You can even put your feet up while you wait!
2. Make more time for sleep
We all feel deep regrets for the naps we refused to take as children. Now, as adults, we wish we had more time for rest. But in all honesty, we still have time. We compromise ourselves trying to take on too much.
End that cycle by setting a firm bedtime for yourself. You can select a bedtime alarm on your phone that will tell you when to put out that midnight oil, and get ready for bed. Read a few pages of a good book and then pull up the covers. You’ll start feeling happier and less anxious when you take this time for yourself.
If you struggle to get to bed earlier, take it in gradual steps. If you usually get to bed at midnight, push it up to 11:30 for a few days, then 11, then 10:30, etc. working your way closer to 9 pm. Your body gets the best rest when you are asleep between 10 pm and 2 am, and I mean fully asleep. So you want to be going down for the Zzzzz count long before 10 so you can be sound asleep by then. Remember that your body does all of its repair work while you are sleeping, so your sleep is super important. Most people also find they are more productive when they get up early. Getting a good night’s sleep the night before is key, however.
3. Take time to unplug from the digital world
So much of what we do involves being digitally-tethered. We’re always on our devices for work, and when we’re done for the day, we’re entranced with our smartphones and the endless barrage of social media platforms.
Remember the days when the internet was an escape from reality? Now we need to make reality an escape from the online world. Unplug from your devices each day at a particular time and make time for those in the real world who live under your roof. Make time for yourself too. You’ll be no good to anyone else if you’re not in tune with your own beat.
Blue light also interferes with your sleep cycle and can disrupt your melatonin production, so that is another reason to shut the phones, computers, and TV’s down earlier in the evening. Instead of mourning the loss of an unhealthy routine (i.e., late night TV viewing, surfing the web, playing online games, etc.), create a healthy nighttime routine just for you! Set aside time for reading or meditating, or perhaps unwind with an Epsom salt bath with lavender. We only get 24 hours in each day; make sure you’re spending at least one full hour devoting time to YOU!
These three healthy habits might seem small, but they will make a big difference in how you charge forth into the New Year. With the way this past year has been, starting 2021 with strength and a positive attitude is the best way to stay on top no matter what happens!