The new year may have already ticked over, but it’s not too late to make changes for 2019. Many of the resolutions we make are health-related – go to the gym more, eat healthily & reduce alcohol intake.
Most people start the year strong but, one by one, the new resolutions drop off. The challenge is to change our habits and make the new habits stick.
We have put together a list of 7 changes you can make this year. Even getting into the habit of just doing one or two of them could have a big impact on your health and wellbeing!
Trying to change everything at once can be impossible to keep up with. Instead, choose a few easy things you can do to improve your wellness, follow our advice for making them stick and your 2019 could be your best year yet.
1. Get More Sleep
The average adult needs a minimum of seven hours of sleep to function properly and stay healthy. Not being well rested can impact your mental alertness and have an impact on your physical health. It’s all too easy to watch TV, use the computer or finish off chores well past your ideal bedtime. If you struggle to get enough sleep set an alarm for going to bed and have a warm bath or shower before bed to wind down. Don’t use your phone in bed because the blue light could be keeping you awake! Instead try reading to clear your mind and ease into a good night’s sleep.
2. Get Stress Levels Under Control
Stress can have an impact on many aspects of your health. If left unchecked, chronic stress can bring with it long-term heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. There are also mental problems connected to long periods of stress including depression and anxiety. Keep stress under control by exercising every day (just 30 minutes of walking per day can make a difference), getting more sleep and setting aside time for quality time with friends and family.
3. Start Meditating
Another remedy for stress is meditation. Between 15 and 30 minutes spent meditating or just mindfully concentrating on your breathing can give you some peace in an otherwise crazy day. If you haven’t experienced the benefits of meditation, 2019 is a great time to give it a try. There are plenty of resources and apps to help you get started with meditation - take a look at https://www.mindful.org to get started.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
Negative self-talk doesn’t do you any favours. Telling yourself you aren’t good enough or you can’t achieve something doesn’t help you get there. Self kindness is acting in a kind and understanding way to yourself. Decide to treat yourself how you do your closest friends. Accept that everyone makes mistakes and you’re no different. Change your mindset, and change your life.
5. Eat More Plant-Based Foods
It’s not only good for the environment but switching from a meat-based to a plant-based diet has been shown to improve mood by relieving depression and anxiety. Whether it’s Meat Free Monday or more regularly, a vegetarian diet will give you a boost of vitamins and minerals. Making the switch to being complete vegetarian could be difficult to stick with. That’s why more people are choosing to adopt a flexitarian diet and cutting out specific meats or setting aside regular days each week when they only eat vegetarian foods.
6. Get Outdoors
Make a plan this year to spend more time outside in the fresh air. Too much time spent indoors isn’t healthy. We need natural light to improve our mood and get a dose of vitamin D which helps regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Sunlight also keeps your body clock in check which helps with appetite and your sleep schedule. A daily walk or bike ride around the suburbs or a spot of gardening can give you the dose of light you need.
7. Spend More Time with Friends
Humans are social beings. Time spent socialising helps stimulate the brain and improves emotional health. Set up a regular appointment time to spend time with friends, so it’s not difficult to organise or look for a club or group to join that does an activity you might enjoy. You could also volunteer your time to a cause you are passionate about. It’s not hard to find your tribe, it just takes a little effort, and you may reap the benefits for many years to come.
How to Make Your Changes Stick
Learning how to make life changes and stick to them isn’t easy. If you haven’t had much success with resolutions and changes in the past, you may think you won’t have the willpower to stick with these.
Firstly, don’t dwell on the negatives. More than 50% of people give up on their new year resolutions in the first six months. If you failed at maintaining a new resolution in the past you aren’t alone, nearly everyone has been there!
According to Psychology Today, perfectionism is one of the biggest barriers to sticking to a new resolution.
Being a perfectionist means you tend take an “all or nothing” approach. With this mentality you may think, “Well I failed at my diet today because I ate a packet of chips, I may as well just give up on eating healthily completely.”
To overcome perfectionism you need to work on not giving up when you fail. You will often fail and not go for that walk today or stay up too late and have a bad night’s sleep. The important thing is to persevere and start again tomorrow.
Celebrate each time you succeed at your new resolution and don’t get down on yourself on the days where you don’t quite make it.
When you do mess up, take it as an opportunity to learn. Why did it happen? Is there anything you can do differently next time that happens? By being constructive and learning from mistakes you will make slow and steady improvements.
Massive changes to your habits don’t happen overnight so don’t try and do it all at once. Pick one or two things and make small steps towards doing them better each day. Know and accept that you won’t ever be 100% perfect and stay positive!
If you need any help with making wellness changes in your life, call PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online