Some simple habits to get you started with the new year
2020 is an exciting year for many things.
From technology innovations to the Olympics, there will be some amazing events occurring throughout the year.
One of the most important things that you can do, however, is looking after yourself better.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of drastic changes and when I did, I got burnt out quickly. For example, I tried squeezing in a healthy superfood diet with 4 days of gym and exercise every week but after just a month, I realized this was not sustainable for me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many people out there who could do this but equally many that can’t.
Instead, I opted for small minor changes that when combined together, helped me feel healthier, active and feeling good. These habits aren’t just health-related but also a change in mindset.
Sleep earlier — get one extra hour
Sleep is one of the most essential parts of having good mental and physical health. Getting a solid night’s sleep could mean the difference between feeling energetic and grogginess.
It’s understandable that as you’re busy trying to cram your packed schedule in a day, skipping a bit of sleep could mean getting a few extra things done.
However getting a good night’s sleep will increase your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system and even things like your weight.
Continuously missing out on sleep will impact your health in the long run.
But I already get 6 hours of sleep!
The amount of actual sleep you need depends on what you need to operate optimally. According to the National Institute of Health, most adults get below 7 hours of sleep. Most think this is enough but unfortunately is a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.
Although sleep requirements vary from person to person, getting 7 to 9 hours is generally the average.
Securing that 8 hours of sleep a day will most likely help increase your health and mood drastically.
There are only a select amount of people who have a gene that allows them to operate on 6 hours of sleep so hit at least 8 hours of sleep.
Retrain your breathing habits
It might sound funny but paying attention to your breathing habits can help in a variety of things that can range from muscle tension to migraines.
The next time you feel stressed, deep in thought or trying to juggle multiple things, you might find yourself holding your breath or taking short and shallow breaths.
This is pretty normal as we’ve grown accustomed to doing this.
Many of us don’t think about our breathing as it’s automatic. But having poor breathing habits can have a negative effect on your health.
Joan Varini, “Retraining ourselves how to breathe properly is the first step in a critical self-care practice. Once you learn how to slow down and deepen your breath when you are relaxed and tap into the natural relation response in the body, this becomes a more natural go-to in times of stress,” she explains.
As we go through life and experience stressors, our breathing becomes shallow and we only use the top portion of our lungs.
For more benefits around breathing, check out this list.
So in what ways can we help ourselves with more deep breathing practices?
There isn’t one set way to do this but you can start slow with a few micro goals with the “4–7–8 breathing technique”.
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds,
- Hold your breath for 7
- Release air through your mouth for 8
This can be utilized in a variety of techniques from falling asleep, walking, meditating or doing an activtiy like yoga or aerobics.
Drink more water
Although drinking 8 glasses of water may not be needed, it’s still important to drink water as it is essential to your health. Even better if you can cut out soft drinks which has large amounts of sugar and replace it with water.
“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.
Basically, when your inputs are less than your outputs, you can easily become dehydrated. This is because fluid loss happens continously from skin evaporation, breathing, urine and more.
Hydration has a major effect on energy levels as your brain can be strongly influenced by your hydration status.
Keeping steady water intake is a simple habit to get into if you are not already. Just keep a water bottle handy whenever you go out and keep hydrated.
Start Priotizing and Set Goals
I did say this list wasn’t going to be all health related.
Countless times when talking to friends, I hear the infamous “yeah i’ll get to it soon”, only to see them procrastinate even more.
More of a mindset switch, being able to priotize and set goals on a regular basis will help you not only procrastinate less but simply get things done.
This doesn’t mean you don’t get to watch your favorite TV show anymore.
Use entertainment and games as a reward for finishing tasks that are essential.
This can range from cleaning the house to admin related duties like paying your bills.
Getting into a routine will help you clear your schedule, procrastinate less and also possibly create less worries for you down the road.
Exercise More— Walk, Find A Sport Or Do Classes
I could never stick to a schedule at the gym.
I found it simply too boring to maintain and even when I stuck to a schedule, it never sank in.
If you are however just looking to do the bare minimum to keep fit, then sinking into a schedule of other activities are equally good.
Simply walking 10,000 steps a day (use something like a Fitbit or pedometer to track it), can help you get to your minimum goals.
“If someone hits 10,000 steps a day, then I’d be guessing that they’d be hitting their minimum number of physical activity targets,” Dr Fairchild ( credited exercise physiologist and Associate Dean (Research) at Murdoch University’s School) says.
If you prefer something more intensive, Australia’s national exercise guidelines suggest accumulating 150 to 300 minutes of “moderate intensity” physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of “vigorous intensity” physical activity, each week (or an equivalent combination of both).
For a breakdown of what activities fall in either category, take a look below:
“Moderate intensity” activities are those that require some effort, but where conversation is still possible — such as brisk walking, cycling at moderate speeds, horseback riding, swimming, social tennis or dancing.
“Vigorous intensity” activities are those that make you breathe harder or puff and pant, depending on how fit you are. They include aerobics, cycling fast, jogging and many competitive sports.
Taken from Sources: Department of Health; personal trainer Cassie White; Professor Wendy Brown, University of Queensland.
2020 is a great time to make some healthier changes to how you do things.
From simple habits such as breathing to more intensive activities like sports, hopefully you’re able to incorporate some of these tips to your regime.