This Year, Make Your Health a Priority
January is upon us once more, and we all know what that means – it’s time for our annual New Year’s resolutions. By now we all know how this works; we promise ourselves that that we’ll cut everything that could possibly do us harm from our lives, but in doing so we deprive ourselves of anything that could be considered fun during the darkest, coldest and generally dreariest time of the year.
The result is usually a series of resolutions that you know you’ll be able to stick to. Why not make 2018 a little different, and make just one core resolution – to improve your personal wellness? You may be surprised at how attainable satisfaction in your mind and body can be to obtain if you only know how.
Here are six suggestions for personal golden rules that you could make in the New Year for a New You that are very much attainable – and will not encourage you to fall off the wagon in spectacular fashion! Abide by these resolutions and you’ll feel amazing throughout the year – and beyond.
Set Personal Targets
Perhaps the biggest mistake that we all make when we’re setting our New Year’s resolutions is to be a little vague. How often have you said that you’ll lose weight, without specifying how much – or setting an unrealistic target that leads you to lose heart?
How many times have you said you’ll stop drinking alcohol – completely forgetting about your cousin’s wedding on January 15th, which you’ll need a glass or two of champagne to get through?
How many times have you said you’ll eat nothing but salad – and found yourself chomping on the leftover Christmas chocolate after a few days when you can’t face the idea of another lettuce leaf?
This January, set realistic, attainable targets – and make yourself accountable to them. If you’re looking to lose weight, start small with a couple of pounds, and work steadily toward that intention each day. If you’re looking to cut down on vices such as drinking or smoking, do just that – cut down, don’t just quit cold turkey. Designate yourself an allowance of units, and reduce that steadily over the course of the weeks and months.
Write these targets down and place them all over the house to remind and motivate yourself of your intentions, and you’ll be surprised at how effective these gradual lifestyle changes can be.
Correct Your Posture
You might be surprised at just how many health complaints can be linked to our posture. Slouching doesn’t just damage our back, shoulders and neck, but it has also been linked to a variety of problems such as applying pressure to our intestines, Repetitive Strain Injury to the wrists and other associated concerns that can make working in an office environment very uncomfortable, cutting off our circulation which can leave us feeling cold and weary, and even dental problems.
What’s more, poor posture has also been linked to anxiety and depression – and let’s be honest, there’s enough of that going around in January without encouraging such negative thought processes! When we also consider that good posture makes us look – and by extension, feel – considerably more alert and confident, there is no reason why we should not be paying attention to the way that we hold our bodies.
Take up a class in Yoga or Pilates if you need a hand with improving your posture, and walk tall and proud this January. Not only will you look like a million dollars, but you’ll feel like it too!
Eat a Balanced Diet
Everybody promises themselves that they’ll improve their diet in January, which is great if approached correctly. Unfortunately, so many of us look for the quick fix and find ourselves following the latest fad diet that has celebrity endorsement, which is never a sustainable way to live.
The most important step that you can take in your quest for wellness is simply ensuring that your plate is healthy and balanced. That doesn’t mean that you have to toss all of your takeout menus in the trash and put Luigi’s Pizza Parlor out of business – it’s fine to treat yourself on occasion. As a general rule, however, ensure that you are eating well and taking in a healthy and appropriate balance of the major food groups. If you need a little help in judging whether your plate is suitable, print off this chart from Harvard Health – it’ll tell you everything that you need to know!
Of course, staying hydrated is just as important as eating correctly – especially in the cold season when we are heating our homes with regularity. Ensure that you are sipping on water throughout the day to feel on the top of your game.
Get More Exercise
Ah, January; the month that has every gym owner rubbing their hands with glee as hundreds of new members sign up with the best of intentions, before never being seen again after March. It’s true that the path of personal wellness does involve upping your exercise regime – just imagine all of those lovely endorphins flooding your brain – but that doesn’t mean that you need to be hitting the gym five nights a week. Instead, just tie sustainable exercise into your daily routine.
If you’re lucky enough to have a dog, take them for a walk of at least an hour each day; longer if you can. Your four-legged friend will have no complaints about this, and regular, brisk walking is great for our sense of wellness – not least because of the opportunity to breathe in lungfuls of fresh air. Likewise, if you have a garden, wrap up warm and tend to it in January – this is another great workout that your body will not even notice it’s having. You could even think about taking a class in a martial art of new skill, which is potentially more fun than jogging around the same five blocks time and again.
It doesn’t matter how you increase your physical activity, just do what you can to do so. The results will speak for themselves.
Get Quality Sleep
Now, don’t confuse this resolution with get more sleep – none of us need any encouragement to bury ourselves under the covers and wait for January to pass! Instead, follow the suggestions laid out by the National Sleep Foundation for how to catch forty winks. It’s all about the quality of your sleep, not the quantity, and good sleep has been proven to have a hugely positive impact on our health and wellness.
The NSA tell us that we should spend at least 85% of our time in bed sleeping – which means no staying in bed and watching cartoons until noon on a Saturday morning. They suggest falling asleep within 30 minutes of climbing into bed, so wait until you’re actually tired – and don’t take your smartphone or tablet with you.
Quality sleep also involves waking up no more than once per night, so be careful about drinking fluids late at night, and invest in some earplugs if you live in a noisy neighbourhood. Finally, if you do wake up in the night, get yourself back to snoozing within twenty minutes – any longer and you will impact on your body’s natural rhythms.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Perhaps the most important thing that we need to take care of in our quest for personal wellness is our mental health. January can be a difficult time for anybody, with the exhaustion of the holidays catching up with us, bouts of the blues caused by the fact that we are no longer relaxing with loved ones but back to the grindstone at work, credit card bills arriving and making for scary reading after our holiday spending, and the cold, gray weather conditions outside.
Don’t let the January Blues beat you – do whatever you can to stay cheerful and content throughout the New Year. Consider engaging in the art of mindfulness, which involves taking a deep breath, clearing your mind of all concerns and anxieties, and simply enjoying being in the moment. Book a vacation or a trip to see a friend later in the year so that you have something to look forward to. Take up a new hobby that gives your mind a rest from the usual commitments of work, home and family and offers the opportunity for some ‘you’ time.
Perhaps most importantly of all, give yourself a break and don’t criticize yourself as you attempt to work towards a personal wellness plan. You’re doing great!