9 Simple Ways to a Healthier New Year

After the indulgences of the holidays, we often see the new year as a new start, a chance to kick start a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions can cause added stress, creating feelings of inadequacy when we inevitably fail. If you are resolved to make changes, start small, keep your goals realistic, and be gentle on yourself should you slip up. Here are few small and simple ways you can create your own healthy new year:

Get MovingYes, this is the obvious one, but getting started is often the hardest part. Start simple by parking further from the door, taking the stairs, or taking the dog for an extra or longer walk (bonus benefit, you get more pet-love). Even your usual household chores like shovelling snow and sweeping floors count as activity. Make a list of your daily activity. If you find you’re sitting more than you’re moving make another list of small ways you could add more movement to your daily routine. 

Drink More Water – Drinking enough water has so many health benefits – it lubricates the joints, combats dry skin, and flushes toxins from your body. Adequate hydration also helps maintain brain function and energy levels and can even help with weight loss. To boost your water intake, keep a water bottle at your desk, or drink a glass before each meal. Rather than reach into the fridge or cupboard for a snack, drink a glass of water instead. Many experts say people often confuse hunger and thirst. 

Get Enough Rest – It’s impossible to overstate how essential sleep is to good health. It affects your immune system, hormones, appetite, brain function, energy, concentration, mood, etc.  Try to develop a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night, and rise at the same time each morning.

Reduce Stress – A bit of stress now and again is an inevitable part of life, but chronic stress can increase your risk of depression, heart disease, obesity, etc. A few simple stress-busters? Remember to breathe deeply and mindfully, give and get more hugs, don’t say yes when you want to say no, and ask for help when you need it. You don’t really have to do it all.

Learn Something New – Keeping the mind active is as critical to health as keeping the body active. Exercising the mind boosts memory, vocabulary, and self-esteem. Take a class through continuing education, or at a community centre, or visit the library and read up on a topic you’ve always wondered about.

Get creative – Engaging in creative behaviour can improve your overall health (cognitive, mental and physical) reducing stress and increasing happiness. While we often equate creativity with the fine arts, creativity actually comes in all sizes and anyone can do it. Listen to music, read a book, observe nature, cook something from scratch, make up a bedtime story for the kids, just begin…inspiration will come.

Volunteer– Helping others by volunteering has been shown to lower stress, reduce depression, and increase functional ability. Plus it increases our happiness, which is good for our health. Positive emotions make us more resilient and resourceful. 

Be Grateful – Take some time at the beginning or end of each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for. A daily gratitude check is a way to shift your focus. Reminding ourselves of small positive aspects of our lives helps develop a perspective that can enhance well-being.

Focus on Doing rather than Having – Having less stuff means less money spent, less clutter, less that you need to take care of.  It also means you’ll have more time and more money available to spend on experiences and making memories.