Habits to bring into 2020

As we step into a new year and decade, now is the time to evaluate which habits you want to bring into 2020 and which you want to leave behind. While unrealistic new year’s resolutions can be daunting and ultimately disappointing, committing to small steps can significantly improve your health and well-being.

To be clear, planning to change everything about your diet and lifestyle is not only unrealistic, but can also be damaging to your self-esteem and lead to eating disorders and other unhealthy behaviors. You will have much more long-term success in your health goals if you think about small habits you can add to your lifestyle instead of what you can deprive yourself of. Take the start of a new decade as an opportunity to recommit to your health and well-being by practicing mindful eating, taking small steps toward increasing your movement, and prioritizing your mental health.

Mindful eating

While avoiding unhealthy foods is beneficial to your health, you should keep your mind on what you would like to add to your diet, rather than what to take away. Keeping full of healthy foods will naturally decrease your consumption of unhealthy foods, without any guilt or disappointment! Here are some tips to fill your stomach with the food your body needs:

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water can improve your energy levels and brain functions, prevent headaches, boost your metabolism, hydrate your skin, regulate your body temperature, support your digestive system, flush out body waste, and more. You should be drinking water before, during, after, and in-between your meals.
  • Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. Waiting too long between meals can drain you of energy and willpower, which leads to unhealthy snacking or overeating. Staying on top of your meals and keeping healthy snacks on hand improves your ability to stay away from food that you do not want in your body.
  • Make vegetables the primary thing on your plate. You should aim for five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. An easy way to meet that is by making sure half of your plate is filled with vegetables, whether raw, cooked, steamed, or in a salad.
  • Set yourself up for success through meal prepping. Chances are that a busy schedule is one of the biggest barriers between you and your health. Take pressure off yourself by preparing meals over the weekend to enjoy throughout the week. Keep frozen veggies in the freezer. They won’t go bad, and you can easily pack them for a quick lunch and cook them in the microwave at work.

Small steps

Being active can have so many positive outcomes on your health and well-being. However, it is no secret that gyms are expensive and lofty workout routines are difficult to maintain long-term. So how can you incorporate movement into your lifestyle in a way that will last? Here are some habits that will help you become more active in your everyday life:

  • Take walks. Finding 30 minutes in each day to walk, even if you split it into three shorter walks, can increase your heart and lung fitness, reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, improve your management of conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain, and diabetes, make your bones stronger, improve your balance, increase your strength and endurance, and reduce your body fat. Find someone to walk with you every day to turn it into a meaningful routine together and add accountability.
  • Choose the less convenient route to increase your movement. Whether you walk your kids to school instead of drive, get off the bus a few stops early, or park further away from the office or grocery stores, small lifestyle choices add up and can improve your overall health.
  • Incorporate stretching into your life. Stretching can help reduce the negative effects that sitting in front of a computer all day has on your body. Take five-minute breaks to stretch your back and legs every couple of hours, and you will feel an improvement to your posture, flexibility, range of motion, and blood flow.

Healthy mind, healthy body

While food and activity can have a positive effect on your mental health, your mental health can also have a positive effect on your body. When you take care of your mental health, you can increase your energy and resilience and perform better in your everyday tasks. To help stay on top of your mental health, try:

  • Improving your sleep. Many people know that you should sleep in as dark of a room as possible, but did you know that your quality of sleep can also be improved by turning down the thermostat? Aim for seven or eight hours of dark, cool sleep to improve your energy and mood.
  • Take a minute to practice gratitude. Adopting an attitude of gratitude can improve your relationships, help you sleep, and ease depression. Gratitude is a mindset that has mental and physical benefits if practiced regularly.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, talk to a medical professional to plan your route to recovery. Depression can affect every aspect of life, causing problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, self-image, and more. Addressing your mental health can drastically improve your physical well-being.

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