By Pete Alfano
First things first: We will not call these New Year’s resolutions because we all know they are usually made to be broken, often by February. Instead, these suggestions are intended to be habit-forming in a good way. And to be a part of the change to a healthier lifestyle.
Adopting new habits doesn’t mean going from zero to sixty on the first day. It is a process that should be done over time. This will improve the chances that the changes are permanent.
We also don’t want to concentrate on one element of a healthy lifestyle. Many people vow to either lose weight or exercise more when we ring in the new year. But adopting a healthier lifestyle means doing both as well as focusing on your mindset. It’s not something you have to do but something you want to do.
Where to Start?
Take a hike. The phrase typically has a negative connotation, but in this case, we suggest you go for a walk. You do not have to work out as if you are trying to make the U.S. Olympic team. Instead, take a 30-minute walk at a comfortable pace but a little faster than a stroll. Try doing this three days a week and build up to five days or every other day. Driving to the mall or grocery store? Instead of circling the parking lot until you find a space close to the entrance, park far away and walk.
Be your own best friend. You can walk with a friend or family member or talk on your smartphone to pass the time, but some alone time is good, too. While walking or simply finding a quiet place to sit and think, turn off the phone and outside distractions. Don’t be afraid to be alone with your thoughts. It can give you clarity and direction about things going on in your life.
Get more sleep. It may be difficult but going to bed a little earlier when you must get up for work or school will help you feel more refreshed and alert during the day, and you will not find your eyes closing mid-afternoon. Remember, the key to restful sleep is to avoid eating before bedtime and drinking anything but water. This also means resisting the urge to scroll through your email or text messages just before plopping your head on the pillow.
I’ll drink to that. Try to drink water more often. You don’t have to give up having a glass of wine, coffee, or even a soda now and then. Just add more water to your beverage mix. It can be sparkling water, sugar-free flavored water, or plain water. Staying hydrated is important and helps cleanse the body.
You are what you eat. Developing better eating habits does not mean becoming a vegan. You do not have to eliminate having treats either but have them as an occasional reward for adding more vegetables, fruit, and nuts to your diet. If you are a meat-lover, scale back and add fish and poultry to the menu. Healthy eating shouldn’t be about denial but incorporating nutritional food with those occasional guilty pleasures.
Developing healthier habits shouldn’t be a punishment but a reward.
Develop a Healthy Mind
Did you ever go grocery shopping without a list and come home with things you did not intend to buy while forgetting a couple of items you needed?
Avoid the frustration and stress and make a list, not just for grocery shopping but for chores and other things you must do during the day.
Mental health is as important as physical well-being. So, make some time to meditate during the day, but don’t become a recluse either. Interact with people, whether it is a friend, neighbor, or calling a relative living in another city or state.
Stimulate your mind by learning something new every day. That is when surfing the Internet or watching educational TV is a good thing.
Do a good deed. Donate your time to a worthy cause. Compliment someone on their achievement or simply how nice they look. It will be a feel-good moment for you as well.
Forgive and forget. Carrying a grudge will hurt you more than the object of your scorn. And try not to get angry about every little injustice in the world. Start by turning off those news alerts you get on your phone every five minutes.