You’re ready to make small changes in your life for the better – congratulations! Sometimes the hardest part of making changes is just admitting that something has to give and owning up to change your habits and mindset.
A good place to start to make this year your healthiest year yet is to sit down and write down goals for the year and why you’re making these small changes. As you go, if you feel like you’ve lost your way or your motivation, revisit this list and hopefully, it will help you refocus on yourself.
Here are 5 different ways you can start making healthy changes that will stick long after the year ends.
1. Make Small Changes For Greater Results
When it comes to making this year the healthiest year of your life, the mantra “new year, new me” is probably not the best motivator. This phrase insinuates that you need to make seismic changes in your habits and your personality, which is both unnecessary and an unrealistic expectation to place on yourself. Instead, to make long-lasting, small changes, place less pressure on yourself and think, “new year, better me.”
For many people who make classic resolutions around exercising more and eating better, they often don’t attach specifics to their resolutions, meaning a resolution to “exercise more” is less effective than a resolution to take the stairs each day on your way up to your office. Better advice is to attach a healthier habit to an existing one.
Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. writes about this technique in her article about using behavioral science to hack your resolutions for Psychology Today. She writes, “You MUST attach the new action to a previous habit. Figure out a habit you already have that is well established, for example, if you already go for a brisk walk 3 times a week, then adding on 10 more minutes to the existing walk connects the new habit to an existing one.”
Additionally, consider investing your time and energy in improving already learned skills instead of trying to pick up new ones or taking the time to comb through the riches you already own instead of buying new. This idea of a depth year was posited by self-improvement writer David Cain on his blog Raptitude.
Cain asks his readers to consider the thought experiment with a few simple parameters, “No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started. You improve skills rather than learning new ones.”
Take the same approach to your health and wellness pursuits. Did your treadmill become a coat rack or are your running shoes hidden in the back of your closet? Continue to invest in and master exercise and health activities that you started once and bring you joy.
Build upon your current habits, rather than trying to start too many new things that ultimately lead to you failing to reach your health goals.
2. Get More Quality Sleep
Personally, I’ve abandoned the practice of only using my bed for sleep. Lately, I’ve brought my laptop, work, bills, and my cell phone to bed with me far too often. Instead of creating a relaxing environment for my mind to unwind and rest, I’ve created a stressful space where I’m still thinking about work and running through my mental to-do list even after my laptop is closed. To cope, I often find myself scrolling mindlessly on my phone to help “put me to sleep” when I should just close my eyes.
People who have a bad bed and sleep habits like mine need to reassess their sleep environment.
The National Sleep Foundation offers 6 simple small changes to help make your bedroom more sleep-friendly:
Dim the lights about an hour before bed. A darker room will start to shift your brain into sleep mode. If you have a lot of windows in your bedroom, hang darkening curtains to block lights and sound. If you do use any devices before bed, look into adjusting their blue light settings. Blue light has been shown to cause sleep issues by delaying the release of sleep-inducing melatonin. (Read: An Ultimate Guide to Decorate Your Home with Interior Lights)
If you live in a noisy neighborhood, consider purchasing a noise machine. Personally, I purchased one for about $25 from Amazon to help block noise. Reducing the noise in your house will block random house sounds from interrupting your sleep. Also, consider taking your TV out of your room because the volumes of shows and commercials can disrupt your sleep.
- Room Temperature:
It’s recommended to keep your room between 60 and 67 degrees to help your body cool and fall asleep faster.
- Pleasant Scents:
Lavender is a scent that typically found in pillow mists and other sleep-related products. Consider using this smell or others that make you feel relaxed in your bedroom.
- A Clean Room:
Your mom didn’t ask you to clean your room only for her health! Keeping your room clean and uncluttered will help you stay relaxed in your room. Choose colors and decor that make you happy and make your bed each morning.
- A Comfortable Bed:
What you sleep on is largely based on your personal preference, but choose a mattress that supports your preferred sleep position and chooses breathable sheets and blankets so you don’t overheat and wake up during the night.
2. Tech Detox
Even reading the words “tech detox” may make some people skip this section or tune out, but a tech detox does not need to be for days at a time. Technology is integrated into our lives more than ever, so much so that it may put you at a disadvantage to not understand how to use or interact with technology. But if you feel like you’re spending too much time on your phone, try to instill tech detox times into your day.
For me personally, I try to have detox time away from my phone. When I’m focusing on writing, I like to have my phone put away in my desk drawer. If I’m heading to a meeting, I keep my phone put away in my work bag or I don’t even bring it into the same room.
Not using technology while you’re eating is also an important step to take to help reach your health goals. Johns Hopkins dietitian and research nutritionist Diane Vizthum recommended practicing mindful eating.
If you eat while you’re distracted, say in front of your TV or while reading on your phone or laptop, you’re more likely to overeat because you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating. Vizthum says, “When you eat mindfully, it’s easier to notice when you feel full, plus you’re more likely to enjoy the foods you eat.”
Use Health Tech to Your Advantage
While it’s beneficial to take a break from your technology, you can also use technology to benefit your health in many ways. Today, telemedicine has opened doors for new companies to deliver medical advice and prescriptions to patients without having to go see a doctor in person.
Today, some insurance carriers and doctor’s are offering telemedicine services that allow a patient and a healthcare provider to communicate in real-time via audio and video equipment.
This is meant to allow patients to have greater access to preventative care in real-time instead of avoiding seeing their provider at all because of the time required to set up an appointment and go to one. Check with your insurance or benefits provider about your telemedicine access.
3. Mental Health
There are a few ways that apps are improving people’s mental health. For stress management, meditation apps like Buddhify can teach beginners how to develop a meditation practice. Meditation has typically been thought of as a spiritual practice, but research has shown that it’s an effective way to manage stress and anxiety. Small changes in your mental health will bring clarity and peace to your body and soul. Others around you will be happier for you as well. (Read: 6 Secrets to Stay Healthy and Fit – Mental Health Tips)
For those seeking therapy, Talkspace is an app that makes therapy available and affordable. Talkspace’s mission is to “provide more people with convenient access to licensed therapists who can help those in need live a happier and healthier life.” By using an app, patients don’t have to wait until their next in-person appointment to discuss issues. Additionally, Talkspace offers couples therapy.
4. Sexual Health
For men and women, sexual health issues can bring up a lot of embarrassment. For anyone who is concerned they may have contracted a sexually-transmitted disease, myLAB Box is a new company that offers safe at-home STD test kits that are 100% lab certified.
Instead of visiting a doctor’s office, you simply order your kit online, take a test at home in 5-10 minutes, send your samples back, and receive your results back in 3-5 days. What many people don’t understand is that one-third of Americans have an STD, although many don’t exhibit symptoms.
The only way to truly know if you have an STD or not is to test for them and this is why MyLAB Box was founded – to help people take control of their sexual health by making STD testing accessible and private.
For men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is more common than many people realize. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, one out of every four new cases of ED is in men who are younger than 40 years old. Men are known to avoid the doctor’s office typically, especially if they’re feeling embarrassed or ashamed about their sexual health. To help combat this, hims is a new men’s wellness company working to make ED optional.
Working with their team of doctors, hims prescribes sildenafil (generic Viagra) and ships it quickly and discreetly to your home – no doctor’s appointments and in-person discussions about your sexual health are necessary.
5. Take Care of Your Gut Health
Digestion isn’t the most pleasant topic, but it’s very important to your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re putting bad food and energy into your body, you’re going to get an equally bad result.
If you’re feeling bloated or uncomfortable already, this can lead to a host of other negative consequences and can be damaging your mental health if you don’t feel good about yourself. (Read: 5 Best Health Tricks to Boost Your Immune System )
This year, instead of creating a “eat healthier” goal, try to make micro-goals like adding a veggie to every meal or adding a probiotic to your morning breakfast routine. Small changes in your diet can really make a difference in your life for the better. If you think you have signs of a more serious digestive issue, consult your doctor.
Categorised in: Health