How many New Year’s resolutions have you made in the past? Out of those, how many lasted through January? For six months? A year? Did any of them make their way permanently into your daily routine?
I’ve made resolutions in the past, and they’ve rarely stuck. Okay, to be honest, I’ve never kept them long-term. That got me thinking… why is that? What about the whole resolution thing was the reason I jumped ship well before the seasons changed? Upon reflection, I discovered it came down to one basic principle.
It was too big of a goal.
If you’re feeling like the start of a new year is a good time to make a wellness shift, try taking smaller steps towards your bigger goal. Here are some ways to do that:
Daily movement of some type
If I were to try to commit to jogging every day, I’d dump that resolution by January 3rd at the latest, because running just doesn’t work for my body. But I *can* go for a 20-minute walk in my neighborhood on most days. And I certainly can stretch on my bedroom floor for 10 to 15 minutes every single day. Find some movement options that you actually enjoy doing, and then do one of them each day. Mixing it up helps keep it fresh, and it’s also way better for your body to perform a variety of movements. Be kind to your body and don’t push it. Just have some fun and get the body moving.
No matter who you are, your body will absolutely benefit from a meditation practice. If the whole thing intimidates or frustrates you, don’t worry. You’re not alone. It can be near impossible to quiet the mind’s chatter – so take the pressure off of yourself and get rid of that expectation. Start with just five minutes each day and simply slow your breathing down. Try to keep your focus on your breath, but know that your thoughts will likely be all over the place. And that’s okay. By just pressing pause on your life for a few minutes, your whole health will improve.
Dump fast food
This is pretty much a no-brainer. Processed foods are really bad for our bodies, so pack your lunch or make healthier choices when you’re going to eat out.
Go to sleep a little earlier
Sleep deprivation is a real thing for most of us. I find I need more unwinding time at night than ever before, and if I don’t manage my evening activities carefully, I’m on the midnight train to nowhere. While it may not be possible to go lights out by 9pm, what if you just turn the lights off 15 minutes earlier? This gives your body a little more time to repair and replenish, which is exactly what we all need. Eventually, you might decide to turn the lights out a bit earlier. Start with 15 minutes and see where it goes.
Lessen screen time
Between eye strain and blue light yuckies, it’s really beneficial to cut back on screen time. This includes not only your computer but also your TV, phone, and even Kindle. If you feel like reading, go for an actual book. Want to do an activity? You could listen to a podcast while doing a craft project or word search. There are lots of things that can be done to zone out, and the healthier ones are done away from the screen.
Eat less meat
I’m not saying you need to go vegan (though you can if you want!). But cutting down on fleshy proteins not only helps your body, it also helps our planet. If this is a new concept, try the catchy Meatless Mondays principle and go from there.
Drink less booze
The benefits of this suggestion are pretty obvious. Your liver will be happier, you’ll sleep better, your blood pressure will lower, and so will your grocery bill. Again, I’m not telling you to quit altogether (unless you want to), just decrease. If you’re usually a two-drink-per-night person, just have one. If you sip a cocktail every night, try going every other. Little by little it will up your overall wellness.
Drink more water
Piggybacking on the previous point, adding more water into your daily routine is something most people should do. If you don’t love drinking plain water, stay away from the store-bought flavored stuff. Instead, flavor your water naturally with options like fresh ginger, lemon, lime, strawberries, cucumber, pineapple – the options are endless. And whatever you do, *don’t* add ice to your water. It douses your digestive fire and will make food digestion way more difficult.
Have at least one day off each week
While this should be a given, not everyone takes time off. I know I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past. But it’s vital for our mental health and stress levels to take a day off to rest, to play, and to just relax. Notice I didn’t mention doing laundry and chores on that day. If you can sprinkle those into your other days, your body will really appreciate the actual rest.
While this isn’t a complete list of wellness options, it’s a good starting point for you to launch into a new wellness approach. You absolutely don’t need to do all of these and probably shouldn’t dive into every single one straight out the gate. That won’t set you up for success in the way that slow-going will. Pick one new thing and start with that. Once it’s a natural part of your life, you can add in another.
Happy New Year, and may your wellness and happiness multiply this year!