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A young woman in workout clothes stretches outside A young woman in workout clothes stretches outside

8 healthy habits to help kickstart the new year

After the events of the past year, you may be feeling the effects of long-term stress on your physical and mental well-being. Whether it’s weight gain, depression, insomnia, or even loneliness, the events of 2020 have impacted many aspects of our health. If you’re ready to start fresh, try these 8 health tips to improve your overall wellness.

1. Set attainable goals

When people have unrealistic goals, they automatically set themselves up for failure, which can make it hard to stay motivated. Set yourself up for success. Instead of tackling a long list of lofty resolutions, start small.

It’s helpful to create alternative habits and routines to replace the ones you’re trying to change.

Try setting one goal at a time, such as limiting sugar intake every week or going for a brisk walk or jog every other morning. By starting with one thing you want to improve on, you can turn healthy habits into part of your regular routine. Once your goal becomes a habit, you can shift your focus to other goals you want to work on.

2. Keep track of your progress

It’s helpful to hold yourself accountable by logging your progress each day. If you’re trying to lose weight or track your food or water intake, use an app or keep a journal. Once you’ve achieved your goal, it’s a good idea to continue to log your progress to ensure you maintain your new healthy habit.

3. Take time for yourself

You may be juggling a lot right now — parenting, working from home, caring for another family member — but it’s important to take time for yourself each day. Something as simple as a daily walk to listen to your favorite podcast, practicing self-gratitude, or taking 15 minutes to meditate can help reduce stress and anxiety from the day.

4. Find a workout buddy

Do you find it hard to motivate yourself to work out? Finding a workout buddy, supportive friend, or even a personal trainer can keep you on-track and accountable to your goals. If your workout buddy is someone outside your household, don’t forget to use masks and physical distancing, or even work out from separate locations over video chat. You can root each other on during the hard sets and encourage each other to try new workouts to keep your fitness routine fresh and fun.

5. Adopt a new mindset

Negative thoughts can have a huge impact on mental and physical health, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression, especially after the events of 2020.

You can improve your mindset by regularly breaking the cycle of negative thoughts. Try adding a daily affirmation to your morning routine, listening to your favorite upbeat songs, or writing down 3 things that have gone well in the past day. Small changes like this can add up to big improvements in your mood.

6. Move your body

Many people have been staying home more — and as a result, they’ve been moving less. How can you work more movement into your day?

Start small. Park your car further away to encourage yourself to walk, use the stairs when you can, or even take your phone calls on-the-go as you walk around the block.

Taking the time to stretch or move your body is known to boost immunity, promote a healthy weight, and generally improve your well-being.1

7. Eat cleaner

Eating can be a source of comfort in stressful times. But instead of reaching for that box of macaroni and cheese, consider replacing processed foods with more fresh foods. Introduce leafy vegetables to your meals and increase the amount of produce on your plate, and you’ll see a positive impact on your health.

Foods that are high in sugar and bad fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, can cause swelling and inflammation in the body. To combat this, try cooking with ginger or turmeric, which some studies suggest may help reduce inflammation. Need to drink more water? Try sipping on black or green tea or hot water with lemon.

8. Prioritize sleep

Sleep does more than just allow you to feel rested enough to take on your day. Losing sleep or not getting enough of it is known to affect your metabolism, making it difficult to lose excess weight and making you more prone to getting sick.2

While most people need 8 hours of sleep per night,3 if you feel sluggish most days and need to take a nap, that could be an indication that you might need to prioritize getting more sleep.

Looking for more tips? Explore our health and wellness resources to learn more ways you can stay healthy and thrive.

 

1Coronavirus: Practicing Wellness While You Stay at Home,” Johns Hopkins Medicine health article, accessed November 13, 2020.

2Lack of Sleep: Can it Make you Sick?” Mayo Clinic, accessed November 13, 2020.

3Why Lack of Sleep is Bad for Your Health,” United Kingdom National Health Service, accessed on November 13, 2020.