[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ost people choose a few New Year's resolutions to help them meet their goals. It's easy to bite off more than you can chew, especially if your goals are weight or health-related. But, if you choose smaller, more easily digestible goals, it's easy to make healthy lifestyle changes that last. Here are 10 easy ways you can start off 2022 on the right foot, without ever touching the scale.
Drink more water
Water has many uses throughout your body. It plays a role in digestion, regulates your blood pressure, cushions your joints, and so much more! Choosing to drink more water is an easy way to improve your health. The amount of water you need depends upon your personal circumstances, so make sure you discuss it with your doctor before making this healthy lifestyle change.
Get good sleep
A good night's sleep is seriously underrated, but when you don't get enough sleep it affects your health. Too little sleep increases anxiety, slows your reaction time, and increases the level of stress hormones in your body.
When you commit to getting enough rest each night, you're supporting a healthy immune system, allowing your body to heal various tissues, and improving brain function. Making sure you get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night is an easy way to live a healthier lifestyle this year!
Cook healthier meals
There's nothing like a nice, home-cooked meal! However, there are many things you cook with that can have a negative effect on your health. You don't have to give up your favorite foods, though. Using simple substitutions is a great way to support a healthy diet and help you achieve any weight loss goals you may have.
Try cutting out sugar by using monk fruit, stevia, or coconut sugar instead. You can even substitute cauliflower for carb-heavy foods like potatoes, rice, and pasta!
Taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate can be extremely beneficial for your physical, mental, and emotional health. You can easily add it to any part of your daily routine. Many people experience health benefits from meditating first thing in the morning or right before going to sleep each night. Simply close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and listen to a meditation sequence. If you prefer, you can inhale, hold your breath, then exhale during your session without the aid of a meditation sequence.
If you choose to add this to your routine, you'll see many benefits. People who meditate experience lowered anxiety and depression, better memory, and better quality sleep among other positive outcomes.
Move your body
Physical activity is one of the best healthy habits you can implement to improve your health in the new year. It's one of the most common New Year's resolutions, and for good reason. Moving your body through dance, weightlifting, running, or other exercises has numerous benefits including weight loss, preventing heart disease, and many others.
Pick a few exercises you enjoy and use them to move your body for at least thirty minutes each day. The endorphins you produce will also lift your mood, making it a win-win for easy lifestyle changes.
Avoid added sugars
Excess sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, and risks to your cardiovascular system and other organs. Cutting added sugar from your diet doesn't have to be difficult. Avoiding soda, products with high fructose corn syrup, and desserts is easy with a bit of discipline. But you don't have to cut everything out. Having a treat every now and then, and eating fruit when you have a craving for something sweet will help you stay the course.
See your doctor
Annual physicals help to detect serious illnesses, often while they're still treatable. This is because your doctor will be able to flag changes in your physical health, even if they are minor.
If you've never had a physical, you can call a primary care professional to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.
Take up a hobby
Setting aside time to explore your creativity is great for your mental and emotional health. Hobbies can help relieve stress and give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction with your life.
There are so many hobbies to choose from, including arts and crafts, sports, and video games. Choose something you like and dedicate time to it on a regular basis.
Socialize with friends
Having good, healthy friendships is a great way to support your mental and emotional health. Friends make up a support system that can help you celebrate life's ups while also coping with its downs.
Making time to catch up with friends is easy with the technology we have at our fingertips. With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing issues, it also makes it easy to stay connected via video chat.
Positive self talk
Self-talk can have positive and negative effects. When your self-talk takes a negative turn, it can damage your self-esteem and confidence. Avoid blaming yourself for things outside of your control and taking things personally, if you can help it. Instead, be kind to yourself and try to limit your self-talk to positive things you would say to others.
Positive self-talk is easy to implement, although stopping negative self-talk can be more challenging. Identify the negative thoughts you repeat to yourself and replace them with positive things. Allow yourself to celebrate your victories without tearing yourself down, and repeat affirmations that encourage you to reach your goals.
Using these 10 healthy habits is a simple and easy way to improve your well-being in the New Year. Making small changes like these is the best way to improve your overall health in the short and long term. Get started today to make 2022 your best year yet!
Brianna Graham, MPH, CPH, is the Founder and CEO of Mixed Media, LLC, a black-woman-owned consulting business. She has a Bachelor of Science in Health Administration from George Mason University, and a Master of Public Health from The University of South Florida. Currently, Brianna holds a certification in public health, and a teaching certificate. She is an expert in consulting, writing and editing for healthcare and education organizations.