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New Year is a time to reflect on what you want to achieve in the future. But how many New Year’s resolutions have you made only to break them weeks or even days later? Making challenging resolutions only sets you up to fail, so why not focus on health goals instead?
It’s easy to become so fixated on goals for your career, finances and family that you overlook your personal health goals. But your health has a huge impact on every other aspect of your life and helps you achieve goals in other areas. Why not make your health your number one priority this year?
You might wish you were full of energy and vitality, free of pain, or a healthy weight. Maybe you want to maximise your mental health or stay healthy into older age.
Whatever your goals, you have the power to influence your health. Even if your genetic inheritance means you’re susceptible to developing a certain disease, you have an opportunity to take preventative action to reduce your likelihood of being affected.
Treat your health goals like any other goal. Establish where you are at the moment, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there.
Health goals should be specific and measurable – how else are you going to know you’ve succeeded? They should be attainable and realistic, too, because this is where most New Year’s resolutions fall down. Finally, they should be time-bound. Set an overall timescale broken down into smaller milestones so you can monitor your progress.
The trick is to establish healthy habits which become so ingrained in your life they become second nature. These healthy habits will help you achieve your health goals.
To inspire you here are ten healthy habits to incorporate into your life this New Year.
Prioritise sleep. Your body needs time to rest and repair – this is non-negotiable, so it’s first on the list. One of the most effective strategies is to set a consistent bedtime. Find out more tips for improving your sleep here.
Eat a rainbow. By choosing different coloured foods you’ll instantly include a range of beneficial plant nutrients in your diet to protect your body and keep you young.
Breathe deeply. This tells your brain you’re not stressed even if you are. Initially, set aside just five minutes in the morning to become conscious of your breathing. This fantastic health habit can be repeated anywhere at any time. Find out more here
Unplug! Being at your phone’s beck and call is known to increase anxiety. Decide to mute your notifications and only check your phone for specified time periods each day, and never late in the evening. You may find it super hard at first, but it’s incredibly liberating.
Smile. When you smile, even if it’s forced, your brain releases happy hormones.
Get outside, particularly in the morning. Exposure to natural light before midday has been shown to regulate stress hormones and help you sleep better 1.
Sparkle! Alcohol can be a source of pleasure, but it overloads your liver with yet another task. Try alternating antioxidant-rich red wine with sparkling water to keep you hydrated and halve your alcohol intake in one stroke.
Be kind to yourself. It can seem selfish to put yourself first and something you might not be used to doing. But if you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to care for others.
Dance! Even if dancing isn’t your thing, move in any way you enjoy. If your day is sedentary, get up every half hour and move – stretch, tango, do a few star jumps – anything that makes you feel good.
Journal your worries. Writing down what’s bothering you can prevent it from running on a loop inside your head. While you’re at it, note down what went well for you during your day, and what you achieved. You may be surprised.
It takes around a month for a habit to be formed, so stick at it at first and soon you won’t even realise you didn’t have these habits before. But don’t beat yourself up if you trip up. Instead, congratulate yourself on having the self-awareness to realise when you fall back into unhealthy habits. Acknowledge with gratitude what you’ve accomplished so far and know you can achieve it again. You’re particularly likely to revert to old behaviours during stressful periods, so if this happens know your new healthy habits make you more resilient to stress in the long term.
And don’t try everything at once! Making too many changes can be daunting. And remember to celebrate your achievements along the way.
It’s easier with help and support! Book a consultation with a functional medicine practitioner and together formulate your attainable health goals for 2023.
Do you need help formulating your health goals? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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