Practicing Healthy Self-Care in the New Year
Staying healthy can be hard. We all live busy lives and sometimes stressful lives, and that can make taking a few hours a week to focus on yourself and your health an easy thing to overlook. But taking some time to take care of yourself and your mental and physical health is important! Here are a few simple ways to practice self-care in the New Year.
- Identify the things that make you feel good. To start prioritizing your health and well-being, you need to identify what makes you feel good. Does meditating help you feel less stressed? Does a little exercise make you feel better? Do you like cooking? Are there hobbies that you enjoy? Once you identify healthy habits, you can start integrating them into your daily routine.
- Make enjoyable things a part of your daily routine. Once you’ve identified what makes you feel better and healthier, set aside some time (even if it’s just ten minutes!) each day to do that thing. Harvard recommends setting a daily timer or alarm as a friendly reminder to go do that little thing that brings you some joy or relief.
- Try to move your body. According to UC Davis, moving your body for at least 30 minutes a day can help to boost your mood. If you can’t get 30 minutes each day, that’s ok! Just try to get as much movement and/or exercise as you can squeeze in.
- Integrate healthy foods into your diet. According to Tchiki Davis, Ph.D. in Psychology, in Psychology Today, “Eating the right foods can help prevent short-term memory loss and inflammation, both of which can have long-term effects on the brain.”
But falling back on less healthy, easier to access options isn’t hard to do after a long workday or a particularly chaotic day with the kids. One tactic that’s recommended to combat this is trying to “sneak” healthy foods into your existing diet. Making a lasagna? Throw some carrots, spinach, or mushrooms in there. Making mashed potatoes? Mash a little cauliflower in to boost their nutritional value. Heating up some pasta sauce? Add a little zucchini or some peppers into the mix. Integrating healthier, more nutritional foods into your eating doesn’t mean you have to revamp your whole diet, it just requires a little mindfulness!
- Try to get better sleep. According to the National Institute of Health, less than 7 hours of sleep a night may have wide-ranging effects on the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems, including:
- Obesity in adults and children
- Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance
- Cardiovascular disease and hypertension
- Anxiety symptoms
- Depressed mood
- Alcohol use
Taking steps to create more consistency in your sleep schedule is a huge piece of practicing healthy habits and self-care. If you are looking for some tips on how to improve your sleep, our “How to Get Better Sleep” blog linked here might be able to help!
While a New Year can sometimes place unrealistic expectations on everyone to practice grandiose, life-altering resolutions, even the smallest changes in your habits can help you make progress on improving your mental and physical health on a day-to-day basis. Remember: don’t be too hard on yourself, take things at a pace you’re comfortable with, and try to prioritize yourself a little bit more – even if it’s just for a few hours a week.
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