Welcome New Healthy Habits

A new year often signifies a fresh start for many people. For some, this means setting health goals, such as losing weight, following a healthier diet and starting an exercise routine.

However, more often than not, the health and wellness resolutions chosen are highly restrictive and unsustainable, leading most people to break their resolutions within a few weeks. This is why many people make the same resolutions year after year.

To break that cycle, it’s important to make resolutions that can not only improve health but also be followed for life.

Here are 15 New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep.

January 17, 2021

1. Indulge in whole foods

One of the most sustainable and easiest ways to improve overall health is to eat more whole foods; vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fish.

Whole foods contain a large amount of nutrients that your body needs to function at an optimal level and research shows that following a whole-foods-based diet may significantly reduce heart disease risk factors, body weight, and blood sugar levels, as well as decrease your risk of certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.

If you’re not used to eating vegetables, adding whole foods to your diet can be done gradually over time. Start slow but be consistent. For example, add one serving of your favourite veggie to your diet every day.

2. Sit less, move more

Whether it’s about having a sedentary job or simply being inactive, too many people sit still far more than they should. Sitting too much can have negative effects on health. In fact, research shows it may even be linked to an increased risk of overall mortality…

Making a resolution to sit less is an easy and attainable goal that can be tailored to fit your lifestyle.

For example, if you have a desk job that requires long periods of sitting, make a resolution to go for a 15-minute walk at lunch every day and to stand up and move around for a few minutes every hour.

3. Prioritise your sleep and make it count

Sleep plays an essential part on our overall health and lack of sleep can lead to serious consequences. Sleep deprivation may for instance increase risk of weight gain, heart disease and depression.

There are loads of reasons to why people don’t get enough sleep. When setting up a goal regarding sleep it’s important to thoroughly examine your schedule and lifestyle to determine the best ways to improve sleep quantity and quality for you.

 

Decreasing screen time before bed, reducing light pollution in your bedroom, cutting back on caffeine, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour are some simple ways to improve sleep hygiene.

4. Find a physical activity that you enjoy

Increase the chances of making your fitness resolutions long-lasting by choosing an activity based on enjoyment and whether it fits into your schedule.

For example, taking a half-hour walk, jog, or bike ride before work, or join a gym that’s located along your daily commute route are simple and sustainable exercise resolutions.

Then, set a realistic goal, such as planning to walk a few specific days per week instead of aiming for every day. Lowering the entry level of your goals can enhance the chances of making your new routine last, especially if you’re new to working out.

5. Practise self-care and take more ‘me time’

As we all hopefully know by now; Taking time for yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s imperative for optimal health and wellbeing.

For people with busy schedules and limited time, making a resolution to engage in self-care may take some planning. However, it’s well worth the time investment.

Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming. It can simply mean taking a bath every week, attending your favourite weekly yoga class, preparing a healthy meal for yourself, going for a walk in nature, or getting an extra hour of sleep.

6. Be more present

Making a New Year’s resolution to be more mindful and present may help you feel more content in your everyday life. Research shows that being more present may improve life satisfaction by decreasing negative thoughts, which may thereby improve psychological health.

Spending less time on your phone, stopping to notice your environment, and listening intently to others are simple ways to be more present.

7. Spend time outside regularly

Making a New Year’s resolution to spend more time outside every day is a sustainable and healthy goal that can benefit most everyone, no matter where you live. Spending time outdoors regularly can improve health by relieving stress, elevating mood and even lowering blood pressure.

Taking a walk outside during your lunch break, hiking on weekends, going camping with friends, or simply soaking in the beauty of your backyard or local park are all ways to incorporate nature into your daily routine.

8. Try meditation

Meditation is an evidence-based way to promote mental well-being. It may be particularly helpful for people who have anxiety or depression. Trying out this practice is a perfect New Year’s resolution because there are many ways to meditate, and it’s easy to find books, podcasts, and apps that teach you how to start a meditation practice.

9. Say no to sweetened beverages

Cutting back on sweetened beverages is a smart idea considering that sugary drinks are linked to an increased risk of obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cavities in both children and adults!

If you are drinking sweetened energy drinks for that little energy boost, replace the habit of a drink with a handful of nuts, such as almonds, instead and your overall health will thank you!

10. Rethink dieting

Chronic dieting is harmful to both physical and mental health. Plus, most people who lose weight through restrictive dieting regain up to two-thirds of the weight lost within 1 year. Dieting can also make it harder to lose weight in the future.

Instead, strive to create sustainable and nourishing eating habits. The healthiest diet is one that’s rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods and low in heavily processed, sugary products.

A healthy, long-term diet should not only be nutritious but also adaptable, meaning you can follow it for life — no matter the circumstances. A sustainable eating pattern can be maintained on vacation, during holidays and at parties because it’s unrestrictive and suited to your lifestyle.

So rather than setting a New Year’s resolution to lose weight by using restrictive measures, such as a fad diet, try a healthier, more sustainable method of weight loss by focusing on increasing physical activity and eating healthier foods.

11. Stop negative body talk

Talking negatively about your body can lead to feelings of body shame. In fact, research shows that engaging in and hearing negative body talk is associated with higher levels of body dissatisfaction and decreased self-esteem in both women and men.

Make a healthy New Year’s resolution to engage in positive self-talk regularly and reduce negative body talk. This may not only help improve your relationship with your own body but also encourage others to stop talking negatively about themselves.

12. Limit screen time

Many people depend on their phones and computers for work and entertainment. However, spending too much time on electronic devices — particularly on social media — has been linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

Setting a resolution to cut back on the time you spend scrolling through social media, watching TV, or playing computer games may help boost your mood and enhance productivity.

13. Cut back on alcohol

Though alcohol can certainly fit into a healthy diet, drinking too often can negatively affect your health. What’s more, drinking alcohol frequently may keep you from reaching your health and wellness goals.

If you think cutting back on alcohol may be helpful for you, set a reasonable goal to keep yourself on track, such as limiting drinking to weekend nights only or setting a drink limit for the week.

14. Try a new hobby

It’s common for adults to let once-loved hobbies fall by the wayside as they get older due to busy schedules or lack of motivation. However, research shows that partaking in a hobby that you love can help you live a longer, healthier life. Why don’t you make a resolution to try out a hobby that you’ve always been interested in — or pick back up a hobby that used to bring you joy?

15. Take a vacation

Taking a vacation — even a short one — may have significant and immediate positive effects on stress levels and can enhance well-being. Because we were limited with our travels during 2020, this year you may want to make a resolution about taking a vacation with friends or family members, or on your own.

Whether you travel to an area you’ve always wanted to visit or simply plan a staycation at home, taking some time for rest and relaxation is important for your health.

The bottom line

Though most New Year’s resolutions are only kept for a short period, the healthy resolutions listed above are sustainable ways to improve your physical and emotional health that can be followed for life.

Creating a healthier relationship with food and taking better care of your body and mind can drastically improve your health in various ways. This New Year, try out a few of the resolutions in this article to help make this year — and the years that follow — the healthiest and happiest possible.

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