Everyone has had those well-intentioned resolutions, vowing to make big lifestyle changes, like losing weight, quitting smoking, or exercising every day.
While you should always try to accomplish these types of health goals, the road to better health doesn’t always mean making huge changes. There are many smaller tweaks you can make that will improve your overall health and quality of life. Plus, because they are easily incorporated into your routine, they’ll be easier to keep up with in the future. When these simple steps become habits, they can result in a big positive effect on your health.
One of the best ways to turn the following tips into habits is to repeat them for 21 consecutive days to build them into your daily routine. Eventually, they will become second nature.
So, without further ado, here are six realistic practices for better health next year and beyond!
Meditate. There is a reason we put this at the top of our list. Meditation is thought to improve the flow of constructive thoughts and positive emotions, which can have a cascading effect on your overall well-being. Even a few minutes spent meditating regularly can make a big difference. Some people worry that meditation has the opposite effect, making them more stressed simply because their minds seem busier than ever. Our advice is to stick with it and keep your sessions short. Meditation isn’t about wiping all thoughts from your mind. It’s about being aware of what appears there.
New to meditating? It’s simpler than most people think. Here how to do it:
- Find a place that is calm and quiet.
- Set a time limit. If you are new to meditating, choose a shorter amount of time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
- Notice how your body feels. You can sit in a chair, cross-legged on the floor, or you can kneel. Just make sure it’s a position that will be comfortable for the duration of your meditation session.
- Feel your breath. Follow the movement of your breath as you breathe in and out.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Your attention may be pulled and your mind may wander, but when you notice this happening, just return your attention back to your breath.
- Repeat daily. That’s it!
Get to bed earlier. A lot of people don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep adults need per night. Over time, a shortage of sleep can raise the risk of a cardiac event, regardless of age, weight, or exercise habits.1 Sleep also allows the brain to recharge, and the body to repair and restore itself. If you are consistently sleep deprived, going to bed even 15 minutes earlier every night can help. Also, set a regular sleep and wake schedule, and stick to it, even on weekends.
Exercise. There are many benefits to exercise, including the prevention of arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. Exercise has also been shown to enhance and improve different components of the immune system. It improves your sleep quality, decreases stress, and supports a healthy immune system too. Hit the gym or go for a walk in your neighborhood with a friend (having someone else joining you will hold you both accountable.)
Support healthy digestion with a daily probiotic. The gut is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that live in your small and large intestine. These microbes help digest the foods you eat, absorb the nutrients from those foods, and then eliminate the leftover waste. What’s more, about 70 percent of your immune system actually lies within the gut. An imbalance between the beneficial and harmful microbes that live in your intestines may contribute to digestive problems and other health issues. This is why it is so important to prioritize your gut health.
Incorporating a clinically studied probiotic supplement into your daily routine can help your beneficial bacteria flourish and can keep harmful microbes in check. This can also help manage gas, bloating, and other minor gastrointestinal issues. Look for a probiotic that is shelf-stable, which means it can safely be stored at room temperature. This makes it easy to take with you when you are on the go. It’s also important to make sure your probiotic is guaranteed to be viable at time of consumption.
Eat energy-boosting foods. Eating foods with a low glycemic index (whose sugars are absorbed slowly) may help you avoid the lag in energy that typically happens after eating quickly absorbed sugars or starches. Foods with a low glycemic index include whole grains, high-fiber veggies, nuts, and healthy oils like olive oil. For reference, proteins and fats have glycemic indexes close to zero.
Get those greens in. Most of our diets fall short when it comes to getting enough greens. This is where a quality green powdered drink mix can really help. It’s a great way to supplement a healthy diet with a boost of extra greens, vitamins, and antioxidants. What’s more, green drink mixes not only help you meet your daily veggie quota, they support almost every system in the body and can even boost your energy levels. Look for a green powdered drink mix that contains chlorella, kelp, wheatgrass, barley grass, and other powdered greens that provide an array of concentrated vitamins and minerals essential for optimal health.
The good news is that it is never too early or too late to adopt healthy habits. When you’re young, you can build the foundation for a lifetime of good health. When you’re older, healthy habits can help lower your risk of developing future health problems or manage any ailments you may currently have.
- Nagai M, Hoshide S, Kario K. Sleep duration as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease – a review of the recent literature. Cardiology Reviews. 2010; 6(1): 54-61.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.