Many of us leap into the New Year with a big bang, committing to a slew of ambitious resolutions, only to fizzle out after a few weeks, or even days.
Here’s a revelation to consider: New Year’s is just a day, like any other. Don’t we want to be healthy all 365 days of the year? Of course we do.
So toss those lofty goals out the window, and try to incorporate these five healthy actions (that won’t take more than an hour of your time) into your daily routine instead.
Water, water everywhere
Something as simple as drinking an adequate amount of water each day can lift your mood, offer you more energy, flush out toxins, and help you think clearly. When it comes to improving one’s health, this easy addition to daily routines can make a gigantic difference. Every single cell in your body requires water to work properly, from your brain to your heart. So nurture those essential organs with the sustenance they need. How much water should you drink? Many experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses per day, or two liters. You might consider getting an eco-friendly thermos and filling it with lemon-infused water each morning, then making sure you are sipping it throughout the day—aiming for it to be empty by evening.
Thirty minutes a day keeps the doctor away
New Year’s resolutions often feature ambitious exercise goals that may include running marathons, completing hour-long daily workouts, or achieving advanced yoga balancing poses that we’ve only seen in well-produced Instagram videos. There’s nothing wrong with accomplishing any of these, but when we beat ourselves up for not hitting that high note, and then give up on exercise entirely, we are not doing anyone any good. A healthy goal is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Moderate aerobic exercise includes brisk walks, easy bicycle rides, and heavy cleaning (mopping, vacuuming, etc.). Whether it’s New Year’s Day or not, 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily will benefit your overall health. If you miss a day, don’t worry about it! Just start again the next day.
Eat plant-based for the win
There is such a wealth of research supporting the fact that a plant-based diet is healthier than one including animal products that it’s hard for anyone to deny it. But detractors (and the animal agriculture industry) still argue that we require nutrients found in the bodies and secretions of animals. It’s just not true. Going plant-based can help fend off myriad ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Cutting out dairy can clear up acne-prone skin and also benefits those of us who suffer from lactose intolerance. There’s no need to worry about where you’ll get your protein because there’s plenty in plants. Those who ditch their omnivorous diets in favor of veganism report feeling healthier, happier, less bloated, and more energetic. Unlike decades ago, plant-based options are plentiful, and we can easily stock our fridges full of everything need—from oat milk to Beyond Burgers—by shopping at the neighborhood grocery store, or even at Target!
Om-ing your way through the year
You’ve heard that meditation has many benefits, but have you tried it? Just as with exercise, setting an impressive goal for yourself is a recipe for defeat. If we aim to meditate for half an hour at a time beginning on day one, we’ll likely get frustrated before the week is out, and give up. A daily meditation practice can still help calm us, increase our sense of happiness, bring peace to our lives, and benefit us in other ways, if we only do it for five minutes. There’s nothing wrong with starting off with a short and sweet practice. Then we can slowly build up to more minutes over time. If you don’t have five minutes to spare in the morning, make it three. If you live in a busy home, lock yourself in the bathroom or set the alarm so you’ll wake up before everyone else. The beneficial effects will help keep you motivated to keep your practice going.
Inking your innermost thoughts
For some reason, the thoughts and feelings that spin around our heads seem to sort themselves out when we write them out on paper. Many of us kept journals as kids, but let the practice go when we grew into adults. Writing down how we feel each day doesn’t need to take very long, but it helps to empty the vessel of our minds so that we start the next day fresh. Writing about what angers us can help us see that our most challenging experiences have a beginning and an end. When we let that anger rattle around inside of us, it may feel endless. Another writing practice that you may want to include in your journal is listing the things you are grateful for each day. Don’t be surprised if after a few days of making your list, you begin to have a more positive perspective of your life.