As another year winds down, it’s a good practice to reflect on what went right—and what didn’t—over the past 12 months. We’re all learning as we go. Part of that learning is realizing that, although we don’t have control over some things in life, there are many other aspects of daily life that ARE under our control. And we’re talking big things, like our happiness and our health.
It takes a little work and some planning, but if you could set yourself up for greater success in 2023, why wouldn’t you?
Yes, we know. It takes effort. But maybe not as much as you think. Making the move toward a more positive, healthy way of life really does start with one step. And when that change feels good, you take another step. After a while, you stop thinking about the steps and you appreciate the bigger effect of your new habit on your well-being.
That’s the big picture. To get to that point, we’re not suggesting a total overhaul of everything in your life. That’s a sure way to crash and burn. We say start small. Pick a few manageable things to focus on—and chances are, they’ll have a ripple effect into other areas of your life.
Here are some things you can do to put your best foot forward in the new year.
Preventive care is one of the best things you can do for yourself. However, many of us put it off because it doesn’t feel as urgent as all the other things that fill up our calendars. Then, inevitably, when we have an issue that requires care, we wish we had been paying more attention.
The answer is so simple. Make the calls now. Here’s your list:
Seriously. It only takes a few minutes to make each of these calls. In a day, you could have your medical appointments scheduled for the year. If you don’t currently have one of the above doctors, check with your insurance company, ask your family and friends, and find one. No excuses.
Although it’s true that different people require different amounts of sleep, the rule of thumb for adults is 7 or more hours of sleep per night—on a regular basis.1 A third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep.2 The impact of insufficient sleep goes way beyond covering up your dark circles or yawning your way through that 3pm meeting. Lack of sleep is linked with chronic diseases and conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.2
If you find it difficult to fall asleep, your actions during the day and leading up to sleep could be to blame.
Here are some ways to create healthy sleep habits3:
Plus, you’ll feel better. If taking better care of ourselves starts with curling up in a cozy bed for a long night’s sleep, we’re in. Come on. We can do this.
Note: we didn’t say you have to sign up for a marathon or go to a super intense spin class 4 nights a week. More power to you if that’s your style, and we applaud your dedication. The point is to simply move your body. If you’re someone who struggles with motivation, try to find something to do that’s enjoyable and doesn’t feel like work.
Try some of these ideas:
Yes, you have time. (If you say you don’t, go check your daily screen time for social media apps… ouch, right?) Whatever your fitness level, there are things you can do to fire up your muscles, get your heart pumping, and boost your endorphins. Remember that exercise is good for both our physical and emotional health. The more you move, the more you’ll want to move, and the better you’ll feel in so many ways.
We all know it’s important to eat healthy. But sometimes it just feels like so much work (the buying/chopping/dicing/cooking/cleaning) just to have to do it all over again the next day. No wonder you want to give up and call for pizza.
However, it is possible to eat homemade meals almost every day without cooking every day. Does it take a little time? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
The key is to pick one day as your prep day and set aside a few hours. Figure out which fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins you prefer and prepare them ahead of time. And think in terms of the week instead of the day.
For instance, buy produce for a salad, make a big serving, and then divide it into separate containers you can simply pull out for lunch or dinner. While you’re at it, chop up some extra vegetables to snack on raw or to add to stir-fry or pasta. If chicken is your thing, purchase a large package (or a whole chicken), bake or grill it, and have it ready to go as a main entrée, quesadilla filling, or salad topper. Or do the same with fish. Or beans. You get the idea.
When your fridge is filled with food that only takes a few minutes to turn into a meal, it’s much harder to justify spending more time and money on takeout. Plus, you may discover you really like the planning process and the feeling of organization it gives you over your week. Now you’ll have more time for that pickleball game, getting to bed on time, and making that eye doc appointment.
See, there’s the ripple effect we talked about earlier. These healthy actions tend to inspire other healthy actions, and before you know it, they’re your new normal. Sure, it will take a little time. But why not start now. Take a step. Pick one of these ideas and get started on your way to making 2023 your best year yet.
Not sure where to begin? Your first step could be to schedule your medical appointments. Click here for information that can help prepare you for a visit with your OB/GYN.
REFERENCES: 1. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Healthy Sleep. https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/. Accessed November 8, 2022. 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep and Sleep Disorders. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html. Accessed November 8, 2022. 3. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Healthy Sleep Habits. https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/. Accessed November 8, 2022.
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