Don’t let the naysayers get you down—the New Year is a great time to start new habits. (Yup, let’s call them habits, not resolutions!) I always find that holiday hangover—both proverbial and literal—provides a little extra boost of motivation to make the changes needed to live healthier.
If 2017 is going to be your year to focus on wellness, you might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed. What concrete steps can you take to improve how you feel? Here’s a guide to get you started; take up one or two new habits, then once you’ve mastered those, choose another.
Improve Your Posture
Standing up straight is good for your spine—and it makes you look thinner—but there are other health benefits to improving your posture. When you’re slumped over, your lungs don’t take in as much oxygen as they do when you’re sitting up straight; less oxygen makes you feel fatigued. Good posture also allows the rest of your internal organs to function better. You can purchase support braces and gadgets to help you stand up straight, but these stretches can help you improve your posture without any special equipment.
Supplements are important, but they shouldn’t be taken indiscriminately. It’s best to consult with a doctor to come up with a regimen that’s right for you and to make sure you’re not taking anything that interacts with other medications you may be prescribed. That said, there are a lot of nutrients that are difficult to get from our modern diets, so almost everyone can benefit from supplementation. Our nutritionist shares a few of her picks here.
Replace Soda (Yes, Even Diet!) With Water
We all know that regular soda is bad news (so much sugar!), but if you’re replacing it with the diet version, you’re not doing yourself any favors—it’s been shown to alter our gut microbes, contribute to weight gain, and trigger headaches. This guide will help you quit the diet soda habit and these infused water ideas will help you replace it with something even better.
Work Out In A Way That Works For You
If you don’t have time for the gym or the budget for exercise equipment at home, you might be tempted to skip working out. But again and again, research has shown the positive effects of incorporating movement into your daily life. If you have the option, use a treadmill desk or do walking meetings at work. Wake up 15 minutes early and do a quick jog around the block before your shower or get your workout in while catching up on trashy reality shows. Even a few minutes of exercise a day is better than nothing.
One of the most dramatic changes I’ve experienced in my mental health resulted from learning to be mindful. Think about your thoughts throughout the day: how often are you anticipating something that will happen in the future or dwelling on something from the past? How much time do you spend scrolling through that mental to-do list we all have? Hitting pause on those thoughts and focusing on being present in the current moment will help you feel calm and in control. You can take the time to meditate or just take a minute or two to center yourself when you feel your anxiety levels rise.
Eat Less Sugar
(Almost) everything is fine in moderation, but odds are, you’re probably eating too much sugar. It’s everywhere in our diets, even in places you wouldn’t expect like tomato sauce. If you’re trying to lose weight in the new year, you’ll be surprised how easily it melts off once you reduce or eliminate the sugar you consume. Here’s how to do it.
Start Using Essential Oils
Banishing toxins from the home is a great goal for the new year and stocking up on essential oils is a good first step towards that goal. Just a handful of oils can help you replace chemical-laden household cleaners, skincare products, and over-the-counter medications. These five are our go-to oils and they’re perfect to start with because they’re fantastic multitaskers.
Focus On Gut Health
Gut health isn’t just about digestion; a healthy gut leads to a healthy body. And an unhealthy gut means your body can’t properly digest all the nutrients it takes in. You can incorporate a good probiotic into your routine, or eat more probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented veggies.
Begin Your Day With Dry Brushing
Dry brushing gets your lymphatic system moving in the morning, helping your body detox and boost metabolism. It also helps improve circulation and digestion—and it’s exfoliating too! If you can set aside 2 minutes in the morning, that’s all you need to do it. Learn how to get started here.
Ditch Fast Food & Takeout Lunches
Aside from cutting out soda, this is one of the easiest changes you can make to reach your weight loss goals. Make meal bowls in advance on the weekends, use this no-fail plan for 10 minute lunches, and bookmark this list of 101 brown bag lunch ideas.
Be Grateful Everyday
Buy yourself a beautiful notebook (this is the one I use) and take a minute at the end of each day to write down something you’re grateful for. Research has shown that the practice of keeping a gratitude journal can increase well-being and satisfaction with life.1