Happiest, Healthiest You
10 Tips for being your Best Self in the New Year
By Jessica Schatz, The Core ExpertTM
It’s that time of year when we create Vision Boards, make New Year’s Resolutions, reflect on the past year and ruminate about the upcoming year. Retrospection helps you reevaluate your life choices, including health and wellness goals. The task need not be daunting. I offer you here 10 Must-Do Tips to help you feel and look your best in the year ahead! You will find them to be easy, effective, and designed to fit your busy life.
1) Start a meditation practice
Scientific studies show that meditation provides numerous benefits. For example, meditating helps improve your mood, it reduces stress and anxiety, and it even increases your brain’s grey matter (which is involved in muscle control and sensory perception). Start with just 10 minutes a day using one of the many free meditation apps out there, such as “Calm” or “Insight Timer.”
2) Move your body more
It’s basic knowledge that exercise is vital for a healthy lifestyle in that it prevents health problems, builds strength, increases energy, reduces stress, and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. If you feel stuck in or feel bored by your same old workouts, add something new to spice up your fitness regimen. This will give your body and metabolism a boost! So, roll out that yoga mat, line up those weights, take a class with a friend, or whatever may be new for you. Pressed for time? Look for shortcuts - take the stairs instead of the elevator or find parking farther away. Regular exercise is critical to your physical health and works wonders on your mental state. So, get moving!
3) Spend more time in Nature
Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Humans are not meant to be cooped up inside all day! Spending time in nature makes you happier, fortifies your immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves mental clarity, and stirs your creativity. Plan a regular walk or hike with a friend. Take a walk after a meal. Bring a book or magazine along on your walk to the park, the beach, or your backyard. Spending time in nature provides better overall health and quality of life.
4) Get more QUALITY sleep
Sleep studies demonstrate that adults that sleep between 7-9 hours a night are more likely to lead healthier lives. Good sleep improves your concentration and productivity, maximizes athletic performance, improves your immune system, and reduces stress and anxiety. If you are trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial as poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain! So turn off those phones and TV’s, get a sound machine, practice deep breathing, and sleep!
5) Drink more water
Drinking water is cheap, fat-free, and available everywhere! The many health benefits of drinking water include keeping your skin glowing and your appetite in check. Start with a glass first thing in the morning, have a glass before every meal, keep a bottle with you at all times, and it will become part of your daily groove.
6) Eat breakfast!
Skipping breakfast is a fast track to weight gain - not weight loss. Studies show that eating breakfast reduces the risk of cravings and overeating later in the day. Breakfast is recognized as the most important meal of the day because it energizes your body, helps improve your concentration and productivity, and boosts your metabolism, keeping your blood sugar levels stable during the day. Eating breakfast is also associated with lower incidence of heart disease and diabetes. Try to pair lean protein with high fiber such as a veggie omelet with wheat toast or greek yogurt with fruit and nuts. This helps the body stay satiated longer and keeps hunger at bay.
7) Read More Books
When we read, not only do we improve memory and empathy, but, research shows, reading makes us feel better and more positive. Reading has additional and amazing health benefits including helping with depression, cutting stress, and reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. Create a bedtime ritual of reading before sleep. It signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. Reading an actual book before bed helps relax you more than zoning out in front of a screen. Tablets and screens are shown to keep people awake longer and interfere with sleep. Immerse yourself in a book. It will focus all your attention on the story while the rest of the world just falls away.
8) Listen to your favorite music more
Music is said to be the soundtrack of life. It’s also a great way to put you in a better mood, no matter the circumstances. Listening to music can psychologically reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and therefore elevates your mood and makes you happy overall. By the way, music will give you extra motivation during a workout! Think of music as medicine for your mind.
9) Eat Mindfully
Mindful eating is actually simple and basic: if you take the time to truly savor what you are eating, without distractions, your body will tell you when it’s full and what you might be craving. Mindful eating can lead you to a balanced healthy diet, allowing room for your favorite treats. Instead of following the latest diet craze, focus on eating healthfully. Opt for whole, clean foods and steer clear of empty calories. (see my October Blog: “Forget Fad Diets, Listen to YOUR Body”).
10) Do things you love and make time for more fun
We often get so busy with the hustle of life, the day-to-day tasks, deadlines, getting the kids to their activities, we rush through projects and hurry on to the next thing on the agenda. We feel pressured by our busy schedules and forget to stop and enjoy life. If you take time to do the things you love you gain more than short-term happiness - you cultivate a better overall quality of life. That might be gardening, cooking, hiking, reading, spending time with friends, creative writing, sketching, playing an instrument, taking an architectural tour, bicycling, and other cherished pleasures. Make the time to nurture your soul with activities and interests that brings you joy and make you feel alive.
Remember, when you set goals, be REALISTIC. Don’t set yourself up for failure with unattainable expectations such as “I will NEVER eat that again.” Life is always about balance. Change is hard and we are indeed creatures of habit! To better set yourself up for success, take it a week at a time rather than planning a far-reaching course of action. Small triumphs will encourage and motivate you to stay on track. I recommend you write down your goals and share them with someone to help keep yourself accountable. A course of reasonable action will lead to resolutions that can be successfully achieved.
So, as you ponder the next chapter of your life, what will you write? What will you put into action? Enjoy the process, and remember to congratulate yourself along the way. Happy 2018, and here’s to your health!