When we’ve had a bad day, we’re thankful for the start of a new morning. When it’s been a bad week, we’re happy when the weekend comes. And when it’s been a particularly tough year, we are hopeful that the New Year will bring happier times, more successes, and less struggles. New beginnings are a chance to wipe the slate clean, take the next step, or re-visit goals that have fallen by the wayside.
Even though New Year’s resolutions may seem a bit cliché, it is hard to deny the fact that the start of a new year is the perfect time to step back, re-evaluate, and decide what things we want to do or change before another year goes by. If health is a priority in your life, or if you would like to make it more of a priority in the new year, here are 12 health tips to consider when drafting your New Year’s resolutions this year.
Prioritize Health Expenses in your Budget
If your health is important to you, but you have little room in your budget for health expenses other than the basics (like health insurance) – it may be time to re-think your priorities. Make room in your budget for organic foods, supplements, yoga classes, massages, etc. in order to proactively invest more in your health. If you really cannot fit some of these things into your budget just yet, then make up for it with your time. Carve out more time for things like cooking at home, exercising outdoors, and relaxation.
Be a Stellar Patient
Help your doctors help you – by showing up on time for your scheduled appointments, taking notes, being grateful for their help, and following through completely on recommendations before judging the outcomes. The patient-doctor relationship thrives when there is mutual respect. If you have a complicated health condition(s) and have been to many different practitioners looking for answers, it can be hard to trust a new doctor or treatment plan. But try to give them the benefit of the doubt and don’t expect failure before you even begin. A negative mindset can sabotage your results from the get-go.
Go to Bed Before 11 p.m.
While most of us have heard that we should aim for eight hours of sleep per night for optimal health, you may not know that exactly when we get those eight hours is important too. Some experts say that going to bed before 11 p.m. is helpful for regulating our circadian rhythm and for healthy cortisol levels. This is especially important for those with adrenal insufficiency (sometimes known as adrenal fatigue) and a 10 p.m. bedtime is often recommended for these individuals while they are recovering.
Drink More Lemon Water
Adequate hydration is one of the most simple but often neglected health practices. But let’s be honest; drinking plain water can sometimes get a little boring. A little fresh-squeezed lemon juice not only adds flavor to a glass of water, but also provides nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C and aids in digestion, detoxification, and maintaining healthy-looking skin. It may also help ward off kidney stones for those at risk of calcium-oxalate stones.
*Drinking through a straw helps protect tooth enamel from the acidity of lemon juice.
Limit Time on Social Media
While social media certainly has its benefits, a research study out of Denmark last year showed that participants who took a break from social media for just one week were happier than those who continued their normal usage. This may be because social media use can lead to comparison with others, based on a standard that is often not consistent with reality. And since cell phones and computers put off electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) that can be hazardous to our health, it is a good idea to limit the use of these devices anyway.
Eat More Bone Broths and Fermented Foods
There is a movement back to eating traditional foods. Bone broths are an excellent source of nutrients and compounds that support digestive and joint health, while fermented foods contain live probiotic cultures to support immunity and gut health (which in turn affects so many other aspects of health). Try adding these healing foods into your diet a few times per week. Fermented foods include things like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
Get Out in Nature
Kill two birds with one stone by walking in the great outdoors. A brisk walk in nature will have all the benefits of exercise in addition to positively affecting mood. Studies coming out of Stanford University have found that blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex slows down after a walk in nature. This part of the brain is associated with dwelling on negative thoughts, called rumination or brooding.
Try High Intensity Interval Training
Consider giving your workouts a turbo boost by incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of workout consists of short bursts of intense aerobic exercise followed by periods of rest. HIIT has gained in popularity due to its advantages over other types of exercise, including being time-efficient, having the potential to increase human growth hormone, and being extremely effective for weight loss and counteracting insulin resistance.
Calorie-counting is a cumbersome and often inaccurate way to track food intake. Try using your hand to estimate servings – your palm for protein, a cupped hand for starches, a fist for veggies, and a thumb for fats. It’s an accurate and easy way to keep portion sizes in check and build a well-balanced plate.
Implement Intermittent Fasting
There are several ways to practice intermittent fasting, but one of the easiest ways to incorporate this strategy is to limit your eating to an eight-hour window each day. Intermittent fasting has become very popular in recent years and with good reason. It is a powerful practice for improving insulin sensitivity, regulating hormones, breaking through a weight loss plateau, and reducing inflammation. You may need to start slowly by pushing back your last evening meal or snack a little at a time. Fasting has been practiced for centuries, but this approach is a practical way to incorporate this health strategy into modern-day life.
Make your House Feel like Home
Spend some extra time cleaning, organizing, and de-cluttering your home. Invest in making your bedroom and at least one other room feel inviting and warm. When your home feels like a haven, you will be more likely to cook at home, have a place to relax and unwind, and get more restful sleep.
Research shows that practicing forgiveness can have enormous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and pain and improving sleep, anxiety, and depression. Take the time during this new year to offer someone forgiveness and let go of past hurts. The benefits will go well beyond relational reconciliation.
Sometimes New Year’s resolutions are difficult to keep, which can be discouraging. This may be because it takes at least 21 days for something to become a habit. More recent research points to an average of 66 days as being more accurate. This indicates that starting multiple new daily practices per month may be very difficult to stick with. Consider taking these tips and implementing one per month in the new year until they all become routine. And be kind to yourself! There’s always tomorrow, next week, next month, or even next year!