The new year presents the promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. In fact, many of us look forward to this time of year after a month of indulgence, drinking too much and sleeping too little. It is tempting to use this motivation to set ourselves ambitious goals for our health and wellness however, it’s common to find that come February, all our promises have fallen by the wayside and old habits have crept back in.
Whether the New Year has you feeling totally inspired or a tad overwhelmed, we have some advice to help you make – and keep – your healthy resolutions for 2020.
Find a workout class you look forward to!
Enjoyment is a key factor in turning goals into habits. Instead of attempting a 6 am workout 7 days a week, try to go to just one or two workout classes consistently.
A great way to stick to this resolution is to find what you enjoy the most, whether it’s dancing, Tai Chi, boxing, running or rowing – spend January testing out different workout sessions on offer around you and see what brings you the most joy. Try exercising with a friend too, whether that means going on a jog together, or even just putting your mats next to each other in a yoga class. If you know someone’s showing up next to you, you’ll be much more likely to show each week too!
Use meditation as your daily medication
A daily practice of meditation for as little as 10 minutes can counteract the effects of stress and bring you many powerful benefits. Meditation directly impacts your entire nervous system by reducing your body’s production of stress-related chemicals, such as cortisol. It has also been shown to reduce anxiety and help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.
Stick to this resolution by getting some guidance. Many apps give 10 minutes guided daily meditations, which has shown to help with focus, concentration and self-compassion.
Have an attitude of gratitude
Taking some time at the end of the day to reflect on what you’re grateful for has been associated with greater happiness according to recent research. Gratitude helps people experience positive emotions, savour good experiences, improve their health, and build strong connections.
A way of ensuring you keep up with this promise is to start a Gratitude Journal. Invest in a new notebook and use it to remind yourself of the small, everyday positive aspects of your life by listing 3 things you are grateful for each day. Reflect on the journal in difficult times and develop a sense of balance and perspective that can enhance your well-being.
Start your day right
The first thing you eat every morning has a huge impact on the rest of the day. Studies show you are more likely to make healthier choices if your breakfast is satisfying and nutritious. Start by trying to add a good quality source of protein to your morning meal, then think about how you could include a plant-based food such as vegetables, nuts, seeds or grains.
To keep this resolution, find 3 or 4 healthy balanced breakfasts that you can have on rotation. For example, a green smoothie, an egg-based breakfast, a banana bread then fruit, yogurt and nut granola.
Make sleep a priority
For way too long, sleep has been seen as an inconvenience to busy lives. But now we know the impact of poor sleep on our health. For the New Year, make it a point to give your body the rest it deserves on a daily basis, not just at the weekend. The only way to sleep well, is to sleep well consistently.
To help with this make your bedtime routine enjoyable and luxurious. Dim the lights in your house at least 3 hours before you want to sleep. Invest in good pillows and use essential oils like lavender or chamomile on them. Try to make your bedtimes and waketimes the same across the whole week and aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Try Meat Free Meals
This resolution will not only benefit your health but could also have a big impact on our planet. By eating more plants, you will be ensuring your body is receiving the nutrition it needs and it can also encourage you to be more adventurous with your recipe choices. This doesn’t mean you have to give up meat completely but being more ‘picky’ about the quality of your meat can have huge health benefits.
Commit to making at least one day a week completely meat free and over the year try to make this 4 days a week, opting for organic sources when you can afford it. The impact of meat production is a significant contributor to the most serious environmental problems our planet faces and therefore by reducing our meat intake we can all make a difference.