Healthy Habits to Start the New Year Off Right
By Heidi Baldwin, MS, Holistic Health Coach
The new year is the perfect time to start building healthy habits if you have been feeling stuck in unhealthy patterns. It feels like a fresh start, it’s right after the busy holiday season, and we (hopefully) feel rested and re-energized, and ready to get back on track. Whether you want to eat healthier or improve your mental well-being, here are some healthy habits that you can focus on in the new year.
Limit Screen Time
If the first and last thing you do every day is browse your phone and check work emails, try to make a habit of limiting your screen time. When you wake up in the morning, try not to check your phone or laptop for the first half-hour you’re awake. Instead, use that time for yourself. Set your goals and intentions for the day, do some gentle yoga stretches, bounce on a rebounder, make a healthy breakfast, or do your morning workout routine. Before bed, set your phone aside and take time to unwind and relax. This will increase productivity, decrease stress, help you sleep better, and improve your mood. I personally like to keep my phone on airplane mode when I am sleeping, so that makes it easier to not check anything when I first get up in the morning.
Cook More Meals at Home
The holidays are often filled with good company and good food, but the new year is the perfect time to start using your kitchen again. Not only will cooking your meals save you money, but it will also help you get back on track with your regular routine. You can choose your ingredients, understand what you’re eating (and how much), and eat a balanced diet full of all the nutrients you need. If you struggle to cook, start by making one meal each day, or preparing your snacks at home, and stick to easy recipes until you feel more comfortable.
Move Your Body
This is one of the most common healthy habits people attempt to start in the new year, but it never gets any less important – the key is don’t give up! Be consistent, even if you don’t meet the (often unrealistic) expectations you set for yourself. Try to incorporate some movement into each and every day, even if it’s just pacing around the house while talking on the phone. If you have a lunch break, use that time to take a walk or do some stretches. If you can, take your exercise outdoors to get some fresh air and clear your mind!
Practice Self-Care and Hygiene
Whether it’s getting a manicure or cooking a healthy, delicious dinner for yourself, try to practice more self-care this year. If you find it difficult to do these acts of self-care, start with building small but important hygiene habits, such as a nightly skincare routine. Sometimes, it can be challenging to find the motivation or energy, but these small steps will tremendously help your mental and physical well-being. My favorite self-care routine is dry brushing before showering to get the lymph flowing properly each day. This is important for many health reasons, and it feels great!
Establish a Sleep Schedule
Sleep is such an essential part of health and well-being, but many of us tend to ignore our body’s need for rest. Try to stick to a sleep schedule that gives you a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night. You should be going to sleep and waking up around the same times each day, regardless of whether it is a weekday or the weekend. This helps your body establish a natural sleep-wake cycle, so you get good quality sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, try to cut down on the caffeine and put your screens away at least an hour before bed. Turning off your wi-fi at night is also a healthy habit to work into your sleep routine.
Many people do not like to set New Year’s resolutions because of the inevitable disappointment of breaking (generally unrealistic) resolutions, which sends many people down a spiral of negative self-reflection. However, the new year is often synonymous with a new start, and we naturally gravitate toward making positive changes in our lives at this point in the year. So, sit down today and think of what positive changes YOU want to make in your life. Start TODAY by adding one new healthy habit and removing one unhealthy habit. You don’t have to wait until the clock strikes midnight on December 31st! If you have a long list of changes you’d like to make, don’t rush into all of them at once. Prioritize your list and assign one new healthy habit to incorporate into each month, and one unhealthy habit to remove, then at the end of 2022, you can look back and see how far you’ve come!