New Year, New You: 10 Habits to Start This Year
Top Habits of Healthy People
There’s just something about the new year that inspires us to consider how we can become who we want to be, achieve our goals, and realize a dream. With a blank calendar and the ability to say “that was so last year,” many of us look at the year ahead as an opportunity to set, pursue, and achieve resolutions both small and mighty.
No matter what you’re resolving to achieve this new year and decade, a foundation of healthy daily actions will help you get where you want to be. Here are 10 habits to start this year to help you thrive, be healthy, and succeed.
1. Wake up and hit the hay at the same time every day.
Getting enough sleep on a routine basis is vital for your total health and well-being. Alongside improving focus, mood, and mental clarity, adequate sleep helps boost your immune system and lower your risk for serious health problems, like heart disease and diabetes.
To encourage more consistent nightly sleep, experts recommend maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends and days off. This consistent schedule helps to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, which tells your body and mind when to be active and when to sleep.
2. Stay hydrated.
Given that your body is around 60% water, it makes sense that drinking enough water every day can support your physical and mental performance and health in several ways. While even mild dehydration can impair mood, concentration, memory, and motivation, staying adequately hydrated can help you show up more fully in your personal, professional, and scholastic activities. Try keeping a reusable water bottle with you at all times and ensuring that your urine is light yellow.
3. Prep your meals in advance.
If you want this new year (2020) to be the year you invite more healthful eating into your life, sticking to a meal prep routine may be the key to making the transition smooth and easy. In addition to supporting a balanced diet and healthy weight, a meal prep routine can help eliminate obstacles to eating healthy (like being too tired after work) and the stress that comes from not having a plan for when or what you’ll eat next. You might try picking a specific day to go grocery shopping or creating a rotating schedule of family favorites (like “Taco Tuesdays”).
4. Get moving during your breaks.
Sitting for long periods of time is hard on your mind and body, though the solution may be as simple as taking short walking breaks. While sitting for long periods can increase the risk for depression, diabetes, and obesity, even a five-minute walking break every hour can elevate your mood, increase your energy and focus, and support your total well-being.
5. Brush (and floss) your teeth daily.
The benefits of brushing and flossing do so much more than make your dentist happy (though they definitely do that, too). Brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush twice daily helps keep plaque from building up on your teeth, prevents cavities and gum disease, and prevents surface stains from setting in. At the same time, daily flossing stimulates and cleans the parts of your teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, helping to prevent cavities, bad breath, and gum disease by eliminating plaque and food debris.
6. Take a mindful moment for yourself.
Put simply, mindfulness is the practice of objectively observing your inner or outer experience in any given moment. Without judging an inner experience (“Why is my mind spinning?”) or outer experience (“Why won’t that bird stop chirping?”), mindfulness simply asks us to pay attention and kindly sit with what is.
Alongside reducing stress and anxiety and elevating our mood state, practicing mindfulness may also support memory, heart health, psychological health, and immune function. To practice mindfulness, you might try closing your eyes for a few deep breaths or eating your lunch with all five of your senses.
7. Listen to your body’s signals.
When life gets busy, many of us override our body’s signals that it’s tired, stiff, hungry, full, in pain, or thirsty. Perhaps we work through our lunch, ignore the need for a bathroom break, or ignore an area of our body that’s showing signs of distress through aches or pains.
While pushing through our body’s signals may give us a sense of staying on task, undesirable consequences, such as decreased performance, infection, or strain, can eventually take root. You can help your body feel and perform its best every day by getting to know its signals and responding to what it has to say. For instance, try drinking water when you’re thirsty or scheduling an appointment with your dentist if you have a tooth that’s causing you discomfort or pain.
8. Unplug regularly.
Technology can enhance our lives in so many ways, though too much of it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Research shows that consciously taking regular (even daily) breaks from screens and technology can help improve your health, interpersonal relationships, sleep quality, and all-around happiness.
9. Get outside.
Making a point to spend more time outside is one of the simplest ways to improve your total well-being. Time outside has been associated with a host of benefits, including better focus, heightened creativity, improved relationships, higher energy, and lower levels of stress and pain. As an added bonus, research has also demonstrated that doing your workout outside can help increase your motivation and foster a more positive experience.
10. Laugh more often.
Like smiling, laughter can rush in a healthy dose of stress relief and positivity while boosting your immune function and supporting your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. To add more humor and laughter into your life, give yourself permission to get a little silly, read the funnies, watch stand-up comedy, or play games with family or friends.
Whatever you’re aiming to achieve this new year, these habits, along with great oral health, will help you get there. To kick off the new year with a smile, contact us at Monroe Family Dentistry to schedule your next appointment.