How to Live a Healthier Lifestyle in the New Year
It’s that time of year again. The time when everyone is reinventing themselves, starting new habits, and trying to be the best version of themselves for the year ahead. The hardest part about starting new habits is getting those habits to cement as part of a normal routine once the novelty wears off. The best way to combat this is to implement practices and small changes that are manageable and simple. Aside from starting a new hobby, committing to being more active, and reaching certain goals, here are a few manageable ways to live a healthier lifestyle this year!
Focus on sleep
Prioritizing sleep and making a conscious effort to get at least seven hours of sleep per night can positively impact your lifestyle. A good night’s rest sets us up for a productive day and drastically reduces fatigue and irritability. Not only will this make you feel better, it will help you achieve more in your day while likely being in a better mood.
Some practices for improving your sleep patterns include setting a sleep schedule and implementing a screen-free time period before bedtime. By setting a sleep schedule, including time to wind down, a bedtime, and a wake up time, you will have guidelines to assist you in making sure you get at least seven hours of sleep each night. By following a sleep schedule for an extended period of time, you can naturally train your body to learn when to sleep and for how long to sleep. Another practice to improve sleep patterns is to go screen-free for a period of time before bed. Taking time to unwind from the day and shut off your phone, tablet, computer and television, allows for a healthy break from both blue light and a multitude of stimulants that likely cause your brain to become more alert and awake.
Reduce screen time
Building off the sleep practices above, an overall reduction of screen time can be beneficial for our health and wellness. A reduction of time on devices can help with mental health and physical health. Phones, tablets, computers and televisions act as a source of connection, information, and inclusion, while also adding to stress, anxiety and chaos at times. By making a conscious effort to reduce time on these devices, we also remove ourselves from being bombarded with news, requests, social media posts, and notifications. For these reasons, creating a designated time to disconnect and shut off from these devices can improve one's mood, stress level and anxiety level.
In the age of online learning, video calls, and live streams, a lot of people are spending more time than ever before on screens. Meetings that are normally in-person are now done online, as are classes, concerts, courses, and gatherings. The increase in screen time and exposure to blue light has been found to contribute to eye strain and headaches for some people. Seeing as the world is largely operating on virtual platforms, a conscious effort to reduce screen time and limit the amount of leisure time spent on devices is more important than ever.
Consume nourishing food
Another way to contribute to a healthy lifestyle is to consume a variety of foods that are nutritious and enjoyable. As humans, we need food to provide us energy and sustain our bodies for daily activities. When considering health and wellness, food plays a large factor in impacting both physical and mental wellness. Consuming a variety of foods from various food groups, including fruits and vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy and dairy-alternative products, is essential to a well-balanced diet that will help your body feel the best possible. When your body is nourished properly and is receiving the nutrients it needs to thrive, you will feel better physically, which in turn will help you feel better mentally. In addition to that, there are many nutrients, vitamins and minerals in nutritious foods that have been proven to improve mental wellness.
Connect with those around you
Connecting with people around you can lead to a healthier lifestyle and better wellness overall. As humans, we thrive on connection and interactions with others. For this reason, it is important to connect with those around you, be it your close contacts, acquaintances, strangers or pets. When we take the time to interact with others, it helps us feel included, engaged, and less alone. During stressful times and periods of isolation, it is especially important to make an effort to connect with others and create interactions, whether it’s virtual or in person. It’s important to connect with your support system, which often includes family members, friends, coworkers, and health professionals in your life. It’s important to prioritize connections and relationships in times when you’re feeling well, and also when you’re feeling unwell.
Do something meaningful
One of the best ways to feel satisfied, fulfilled, and mentally well is to do something with a meaning. This includes things that are meaningful to you, to others, and to the world. Whether you visit a relative, volunteer at a local animal shelter or spend time doing something you’re passionate about, taking the time to do things that are meaningful can drastically improve your mood and overall wellness. When we take the time to engage in things that we are passionate about and do things that make a difference in our lives, or the lives of others, it often leads to a happier, healthier mindset and a rewarding experience. As the new year launches and you try to implement practices for a healthier lifestyle, remember to make an effort to continue doing things that are meaningful and serve a purpose.