Simple Lifestyle Changes that Dramatically Impact Your Health
We’ve made another orbit around the sun which means it’s officially time for New Year Resolutions that we dedicate time, energy, and even money to for the first four weeks out of the year and then forget about for the final 48 week. More often than not, resolutions revolve around diets, new fitness routines, and vague goals. What if this year, instead of making ourselves miserable chasing impossible goals, we make a few small changes that can make a huge impact! Ones that encourage us to better ourselves both mentally and physically. Whether you realize it or not, your mental and physical health go hand and hand, so it is just as important to focus on your mental health as your physical health. Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips to get you on track to a new you this year (without the pressure to be perfect!)
- Focus on adding rather than subtracting. When you choose to deprive yourself of something you enjoy, whether it’s coffee or time spent scrolling through Tik Tok, it becomes a chore. Chores are something you try to avoid at all cost, not something you look forward to doing. Rather than “I’m going to cut out one cup of coffee a day,” choose something along the lines of “I will drink one extra cup of water for every cup of coffee I drink!” Other examples would be spending a few moments in prayer or meditation before reaching for a screen or making a protein packed breakfast first then eating a donut! There is nothing wrong with a little pick me up from caffeine, decompressing while mindlessly scrolling through your social media, or treating yourself to something sweet, but balance is the key to achieving a healthier mind and body.
- Modify your goals to be attainable for you. Every brain operates in a different way. You may thrive by setting strict goals for yourself like “I want to lose 10 lbs by my vacation in August. I will do this by limiting carbs and exercising for one hour four days a week.” Your sister, on the other hand, may thrive when there is less pressure. A more reasonable goal for her would be “I want to be healthier. I will do this by focusing on being more active throughout the day.” That could be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Goals are customizable. If your plan isn’t working, switch it up to make it work for you!
- Just say no. Say no when you’re invited out for drinks after a busy work week or tell your friends and family that you’d rather spend quality time with them instead of going into debt from giving extravagant gifts for birthdays and holidays. We need to remove the notion that we have to please everyone from our brains just because it’s been done in the past.
- Plan meals ahead of time. Take time at the beginning of the week to sit down and decide what meals you want for the week then go to the store and prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Be reasonable with your meals! No one is judging you if you don’t make elaborate meals every night. Sometimes you need to throw some chicken nuggets in the oven and call it a day. Over committing to your meal prep because it’s what you think you need to do only leads to wasting food and money.
- Stop comparing yourself to others on social media. Continuously comparing yourself to everyone else is the quickest way to burn out. Your journey is your own. Stop stressing yourself out by trying to make your life picture perfect.
- Get active. Pick a different way to get active every day to prevent yourself from getting bored. This will look different for everyone. Set routine each week if that works best for you, or wake up and pick a new challenge each day! Small ways to get active would be to take the stairs, park in the back of a parking lot, or take a short walk at lunch instead of scrolling through your social media while hiding from your coworkers. If you’re not already an active person, start small and work your way up to bigger challenges.
- Start limiting caffeine. We know, this kind of contradicts number one, but while caffeine can give you a much needed boost of energy, it can lead to anxiety, dehydration, restlessness, insomnia, gut issues including ulcers, abnormal heart rhythms, and ultimately create a lasting dependency. A cup of coffee in the morning isn’t going to hurt most people, but large quantities of coffee, espresso, or energy drinks. If you feel you already have a dependency on caffeine, do not quit abruptly as you can experience withdrawal symptoms such as migraines, exhaustion, depressive moods, and in serious cases, tremors and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can last between 2-9 days depending on your caffeine usage.
- Eat smaller meals more often. Eating small meals throughout the day gives your body the nutrients it needs and the time it needs to digest. This helps prevent you from feeling overly hungry and overeating. Choose energizing and higher calorie foods earlier in the day and lighter options for dinner. Food is fuel and that fuel helps a lot more at the beginning of the day rather than when you’re winding down for the night. Choose high protein snacks over carb filled snacks. If you find yourself needing a snack, choose some rolled deli meat or cheese stick over a bag of chips. While carbs may fill you up faster, protein will keep you full longer.
- Take your health seriously. If you notice something is off in your body, get checked out by a professional. Even if you think it’s something minor it can lead to major health issues down the road. This includes your mental health. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help when you need it. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed when you are doing what you need to do to get better!
- SLEEP! Getting a restful night of sleep is the best way to improve your health over all. Your body heals itself while you’re sleeping, so it is important to dedicate time to proper sleep hygiene. Simple ways to improve sleep are stop drinking caffeine after 2:00pm, eat a light protein packed dinner, turn off all screens 30 minutes before bed, take a cool shower to lower your body temperature, turn on relaxing music, and last, no matter how cute they are, let your pet sleep in their own space so you aren’t fighting for your bed all night.
There are a million little things you could do to improve your overall health. Don’t stress yourself out by changing everything all at once. Start small and choose 2-3 changes that you feel would benefit you the most and add more as you feel you can handle them! Your journey to a healthier lifestyle is only yours, not anyone else. Make it what you need it to be!