By the time we reach the end of December, we all feel like we are ready for a change. We all feel like there is more that we could be doing to take better care of ourselves and our families. This is the point at which the seasonal excess of the holidays is starting to die down, and we are starting to feel the effects of all those enormous dinners and tasty treats. It’s also the time when we are at our most likely to be tempted to hibernate, hiding away from the bad weather and the short dark days by curling up on our couch under a blanket.
However, as much as we always want to turn over a new leaf and commit to some healthy resolutions, it can be easier said than done. We always want to get to the end point as quickly as we can, to be better and to feel better. As a result, we set ourselves these unrealistic goals with no real framework in place for how we are going to get there. We launch into new diet plans, heavily structured weeks, and intense new exercise regimes and then we are disappointed when we cannot keep them up.
When we do inevitably give up on these hasty resolutions, we beat ourselves up about it and we feel like they were always doomed to failure. But getting into healthier habits does not have to be about radically changing the way you go about your daily life. It can be as simple as taking small steps to look after yourself. That’s how progress is made after all, instead of setting your sights too high. Here are a few healthier habits that we could all benefit from that you can take at your own pace.
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Commit To More Structure In Your Daily Life
It has felt like structure has been sorely missing from our lives since March 2020. Or, at least, a structure that we created instead ourselves instead of one that was imposed on us. There are a lot of people out there who are resistant to the idea of adhering to any kind of timetable in their personal lives, but if you feel like you are struggling to get a handle on things, a bit of structure can be very helpful indeed. It is particularly important if you are still working from home. Anyone who has had to set up a home office will tell you that it has been difficult to create clear lines of separation between work and home both physically and mentally. A structured day will define those lines for you.
So, what are the easy steps towards achieving this? Start by setting a time for waking up and going to bed every day. Look for a time in your schedule where you can get outside and take a break at some point while the sun is out, whether that is just before work or on your lunch break. Remember that getting regular exercise is vital for your mental health as well as your physical health, so create some time in your schedule that is set aside for it. Make sure that you are clocking out of work on time every day and avoid checking your work emails or phone messages after you have signed off.
Eating Healthier Doesn’t Have To Be A Major Change
Everyone has tried to commit to a drastic diet plan at one point or another. We throw out everything that we know is not that great for us and we fill our fridge with healthier options, and we see how far we can get. If you want to start eating healthier, it does not have to be so all-or-nothing. Look for easy swaps that you can make instead of just cutting out everything. You should also make sure that you have plenty of healthy snacks within reach to cut down on the temptation to backslide.
With that in mind, think about stocking up on crunchy fresh fruit and vegetables if you’re used to a sweet or salty treat around mid-morning or mid-afternoon. If you are trying to cut down on your red meat for your health and for the environment, why not try some meat-free alternatives like a veggie burger or veggie chicken instead of eating nothing but salads? If you are trying to cut down on your caffeine intake, do not just go cold turkey. Try to swap out one caffeinated beverage for a decaf option, and gradually wean yourself off. Better dietary habits take time and planning. Give yourself the best possible chance of success by seeing what changes work for you.
Take Your Health More Seriously
As we get older, we start to notice that our body is not quite as capable when it comes to bouncing back as it used to be. Red meat starts to become harder to digest, that morning run takes it out of you more than it used to, and staying up all night can wreck us for days. But taking your health more seriously is not just about making sure that you get plenty of fresh air and exercise (although that is obviously important. It is about listening to what your body is telling you and getting proactive when it comes to identifying potential issues. The former is easy enough. You can look for ways to be kinder to your muscles by practicing yoga and making sure that you warm down after exercise, for example.
When it comes to the latter, it is about recognizing that you are more susceptible to certain kinds of illnesses as you age and scheduling regular check-ups. Many of us would rather not think about cancer, for example, but spotting it early has a massive impact on the chances of it being treated successfully. Cancer screening tests can scan your body to identify any potential warning signs. Ezra offers a range of scans that can give you the best chance of spotting cancer early and fighting it, and they have a wealth of information on their site to help you learn more.
Look For Ways To Reconnect With Our Loved Ones
One of the hardest things that we went through in 2020 was being separated from our friends and family members for such a long period of time. Even though things have gone back to something resembling normal in many ways, many of us are still being cautious and making sure that we are taking every step possible to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. It is also the case that this time of year can be quite isolating.
Money is often tight in the run up to the holidays, and many of us are dealing with additional stress factors, from the cold germs our kids pick up to the rising energy prices. When these issues start to pile up, it can become very easy to isolate even more. We tell ourselves that we should just get on with it and that we do not want to be a burden to anyone. Reaching out and talking to someone that you trust about how you are doing is not a magic cure for your mental health struggles, but it can make a huge difference and it is a great start. Learn more about relationship, what you would do if someone you cared about came to you because they were having a hard time. We have all learned a lot about mental health during the pandemic, but we can always get better at communicating and at checking in with the people who matter to us.