The new year is an exciting time, bringing with it the promise of a clean slate and new beginnings. For many people, this means making promises to themselves about healthier living. Whether that means eating healthier, working out more, or paying more attention to hydration, the sky’s the limit. Writing down resolutions is a cinch; it’s the sticking to them part that can get tricky. As you begin to think about the different ways you’d like to pay better attention to your health this year, we’re here to help with some wholesome ideas to keep you feeling great from January to December.
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness in your everyday life. Some people prefer to start the day with a meditation of their choosing. This could be a guided meditation that uses visualization or it may be as simple as sitting quietly for five minutes and focusing on the breath. For others, being mindful is simply noticing the breath at different points throughout the day. It’s important to take the time to notice the cool breeze of wind on a warm day or to appreciate the beauty of a falling snowflake.
Mindful eating has also grown in popularity, encouraging people to slow down and pay attention to the food they put in their bodies. This means stepping away from screens when it’s time to enjoy a meal and paying closer attention to when you feel full. Some people opt to put down their utensils in between taking bites of food.
Gratitude is a great way to insulate your mind against the stressors that each day brings. Start your day by listing out a few things that you’re grateful for, whether it’s your family, your home, a pet, or your health. Not only can this decrease your stress levels, but it can restore a sense of well-being, even when life seems chaotic. Feeling balanced is an important part of maintaining overall health, and a gratitude list can be a way to promote balance.
This doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym and go crazy with the weights. Being more mindful of how much you allow your body to move each day is a great start. For example, if you don’t do much regular walking, consider how you might add in 15-30 minutes of walking each day. Park further away from the door at the office, opt to walk to the grocery store, or get in a little more quality time outdoors with Fido. Choosing to take the stairs over the elevator is another great way to get more steps in. These small changes may seem like nothing, but they add up in the long run, especially for your heart. Physical activity can lead to a lower likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.
Finding it difficult to motivate yourself in going to the gym more or eating healthy? Why not join a group or a challenge that pushes you out of your comfort zone? The Whole Life Challenge and Whole30 are lifestyle and nutrition programs that guide participants in either getting more active or eating more healthily or both. The good thing about programs like these is that some have a group component where participants can communicate with each other, cheerlead, encourage, and motivate. It’s especially helpful for those who need a little extra accountability and motivation to make some major changes.
Yep, you heard us correctly: help others. Why? Because helping others can actually make us happier and that is excellent for our health. In fact, a study from 2010 showed that people who had positive emotions were roughly 20% less likely than less positive peers to develop heart disease or have a heart attack. Finding a volunteering opportunity that you enjoy and where you feel good about giving back can be great for your health. More research also shows that positive emotions can make people both resourceful and resilient. So get to helping!
Sounds counterintuitive, but the truth is that the more you communicate with your doctor, the healthier you may be. When you have a close relationship with your primary care doctor, you can keep negative health outcomes at bay. Stay up-to-date with regular screenings and necessary tests. This can ensure that any health problems are caught early and that an appropriate treatment plan can be created. You can also ask your doctor about exercise and diet to ensure you’re getting the right mix of both for optimal health.
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