The key to sticking with your New Year’s resolutions is incremental change. If you try to make too many changes or make them too quickly, it’s more difficult to keep up with them. Start small at and work your way up to bigger changes gradually. Here are five health tips you can begin to practice and grow in the new year.
1. Eat Healthily
Eating healthily doesn’t necessarily mean following strict diets or limiting calorie intake. If you do want to take those routes, they’re worth looking into, but you can start eating better in the new year by just adding some healthier choices to your pantry or recipe book. Change out white bread for loaves rich in whole grains like barley and whole wheat. Add healthy fats such as fish and avocado. Stock up on more nuts, fruits and vegetables for snacking. You can even just include some green superfood powder in your morning smoothie or juice.
The Mediterranean diet is a particularly useful option. It focuses on increasing whole foods, lean meats and healthy fats rather than calorie counting and there are plenty of recipes available online.
2. Manage Stress
Managing your stress can seem like a difficult goal to achieve, but if you break it down into smaller short-term changes, it becomes easier. You can try taking up yoga or meditation to calm your mind, get involved in your local community and strengthen your connections with friends and family. Learn to recognize your stress symptoms and coping mechanisms. If you tend to have unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking alcohol or overeating, focus on managing those first. If you feel your stress is something you need help to manage, you can talk to your doctor about next steps, such as talking to a therapist.
3. Get Physically Active
Probably the most popular New Year’s resolution choice, going to the gym more is also probably the most joked about resolution. If you’ve tried to start working out more after the new year in the past and gotten discouraged when you couldn’t keep it up, you’re not alone. Life gets in the way of a workout regimen, sometimes. Luckily, there are alternatives out there and you don’t need to make it to an hour-long sweat session every day to get some quality exercise. Current recommendations say people should try to be physically active for about 30 minutes daily. This doesn’t mean you need to get in all that exercise at once. For example, you could follow a ten-minute yoga video in the morning, take a walk for the same amount of time over lunch and kick a soccer ball around for ten minutes after work.
4. Start a Skincare Routine
It may seem frivolous, but a skincare routine is a great, simple way to start allowing yourself a little self-care. Self-care helps you reduce stress by giving yourself time to breathe and take care of yourself. If you start a simple skincare routine, such as using a special face wash, moisturizing and occasionally treating yourself with a sheet mask, you can give yourself a couple of small windows in your day to just take care of yourself and take a moment to enjoy a little luxury.
5. Challenge Yourself
Healthy living isn’t just about the body. You should also give your brain a workout when you can. A unique New Year’s resolution for healthier living could involve working on the crossword in the newspaper every Sunday, learning a new language or taking art classes. Make sure you find something you enjoy. For example, you don’t need to force yourself to do math if you dislike math. Anything you can do that you enjoy and also stimulates your brain will help keep your mind healthy.
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your goals for the new year. Your doctor can help you keep track of your health goals and your loved ones will be thrilled to hear about your resolutions.