The new year often inspires us to reflect on the past and plan for ways in which we can improve our lives in the year ahead. From eating healthier and exercising consistently, to getting better sleep and coping with anxiety, there are several facets of health that we can all improve on.
Below, we’ve compiled four of the most important areas of personal health to focus on in 2020 so you can have your happiest and healthiest year yet!
Instead of spending the first few weeks of 2020 planning how you will deprive yourself for the sake of fitness, start planning for how you’ll spend the year finding balance. For some, that may mean adding more greens and veggies into what they’re already eating every day. For others, it may be easier to ensure they eat clean throughout the day and allow themselves to be a little more lenient for dinner.
If you’re one of the many whose 2020 goal is to lose weight, adjusting your nutrition is a great place to start. Consider joining a restriction-free weight loss program if you’re looking for a guided nudge in the right direction! Having accountability and guidance makes it easier to stick to new habits long term.
Whatever you decide, remember to take baby steps to adapt to your new nutrition goals. When you are trying out new eating habits, it takes time to adjust and requires constant research and learning involved to ensure that you get the nutrients you need. Try the plate method to visualize what you're having for your meals as this is an effective way to see all the food groups you're having at a glance.
Exercise comes hand in hand with nutrition, but you already knew that. Just like developing a more nutritious diet, learning to become consistent with exercising each week takes practice.
Start slow and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout. If you find that you have trouble sticking to an exercise schedule, find a workout buddy and create a calendar of 3-5 workouts a week that you can do together to keep yourselves accountable.
Take walks, spot each other at the gym, take a drop-in class at your local yoga studio, or sign up for a membership at a kickboxing facility. Many studios will offer you a free trial so you can test the waters and find a workout that excites you and your exercise buddy!
You'll find it easier to stick to a workout plan if you enjoy the activities. You might even start looking forward to working out because it'll be something you love doing!
In a study by the National Sleep Foundation, it was found that “low life satisfaction” and “high stress” played a large role in the quality of sleep Americans were getting every night. Take some time and think about your sleeping habits. Do you have a “wind-down” routine or are you taking in stimuli from your phone, computer, or TV screen right up until you fall asleep? Are you up late due to restless feelings of stress and anxiety?
Poor sleep affects overall health and can cause weight gain, depression, increased anxiety, and brain fog. Try developing a nightly routine that involves shutting off all electronics, making a warm cup of caffeine-free tea, and either reading, writing, or getting in a full-body stretch to help you fall asleep quickly and soundly. Melatonin vitamins are a great addition to your nighttime routine, too!
Starting new bedtime habits would pave a path to better bedtime routines. Being able to get into a relaxed state for bedtime quickly means that you have to train your body. Once your body recognizes that it is time to sleep, it will relax and therefore, it will help you fall asleep faster.
If you are someone who struggles with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, you may find that you will start to feel significantly better after implementing healthy habits in the three other areas mentioned above.
If not, it may be a good idea to make 2020 the year you finally ask for help. There is nothing to be ashamed of when seeking counseling. The ability to talk through your thoughts and anxieties with a person who is trained to ask the right questions will help you develop mechanisms and habits to destress and view situations differently.
It’s important to remember that going to therapy won’t make all of your problems go away, but it will help you learn how to handle struggles with more grace and positivity. Practicing meditation and controlled breathing daily helps, too!
Although these lifestyle changes seem like a lot, you don’t have to make them all at once. With baby steps and determination, 2020 can be your healthiest year yet! Good luck!