As we start 2023, many people are looking to develop health goals. During the pandemic, many of us developed some...not so great routines that could use a revamp. To turn the tides there are a few approaches: Creating large transformative habits, single task checklists, process goals, and performance goals.
We've focused on the “small bites” approach since taking tiny, consistent steps is often easier than biting off more than you can chew and getting overwhelmed with your goals. To get you started with tiny steps, here are some simple health and wellness goals you can make for the coming year:
Develop Good Sleep Habits
Your sleeping habits, which are also known as sleep hygiene, can make or break your healthy lifestyle. Poor quality sleep doesn’t just make you exhausted and inhibit how well your brain functions but can have long-term effects and cause chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.
Here are some simple healthy sleep habits you could adopt:
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
Creating a dark and relaxing environment in your sleep space
Removing electronic devices from your bedroom
Avoiding large meals, caffeine, or alcohol right before bed
Getting in some exercise during the day
Eat Breakfast Each Day
Eating breakfast each day contributes to a healthier heart, better digestion, better metabolism, and strong bones. Breakfast is an important meal yet many adults skip out on this meal to save a couple of minutes. There ’s evidence that not eating breakfast makes it harder to fit in all of your needed nutrients and skipping breakfast often leads to greater fatigue during the day and weight gain in the long run. Choose to invest in yourself and take a couple of minutes to start your health off on the right foot every morning!
Eat Fewer Processed Foods
Speaking of eating, when you do eat breakfast, and any meal or snack for that matter, a good health goal for 2023 would be to decrease your intake of processed foods. Processed foods technically include anything that has been changed from its natural state. This can even include being precut or washed.
Although not all processed foods are unhealthy (frozen veggies or a container of nuts are some healthy options), ultra-processed foods contain preservatives, dyes, added flavors, and high fructose corn syrup. Heavily processed foods often strip food of important nutrients, quickly digest (which can lead to unhealthy weight gain), and can put you at a higher risk of getting cancer. When choosing foods from the store, make sure to check their labels and try to avoid those unhealthy additives.
Eat More Plants
Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to give up meat fully, especially because lean meat in moderation can be quite healthy for you. A plant-based diet means you eat mostly plants—about 2/3 of your plate, with the remaining portion being a lean source of protein.
Primarily eating plants can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and even some mental illnesses. This diet also reduces inflammation, promotes a stronger immune system, can help you maintain a healthy weight for your body, and helps your gut health and digestive system.
With 20 years of studying and evidence, the American Institute for Cancer Research has determined that this diet is the best for reducing your risk of cancer and giving your body incredible health benefits. If a plant-based diet is too big of a health and wellness goal for you right now, start by just incorporating more plants into your diet.
Get Your Heart Pumping Regularly
Exercise not only helps your physical health, but it also helps your mental health. Physically, exercise improves your quality of sleep and reduces your risk of high blood pressure, dementia, heart disease, stroke, eight different cancers, and weight gain. Mentally, exercise reduces feelings of anxiety and depression.
Any amount of exercise is beneficial, but if you want to get health benefits, you need to exercise at least at a moderate level, such as walking 30 minutes each day.
Mindfulness comes from Buddhist meditation and offers both mental and physical health benefits. Practicing meditation can help reduce mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, and can also help you sleep better and can lower your blood pressure. You can find online guided meditation apps that can help you practice mindfulness regularly.
Remember Consistency and Patience
Habits can take quite a bit of work and time to truly stick and make a difference. When starting on your health and wellness goals, remember to be consistent and patient as you continue your journey to a healthier life.