Do you live in the northern part of the world where we just had winter solstice? Are you noticing that seasonal feeling of sluggishness? Do you feel more blah these days? Do you miss the warmth of summer?
Me too. Let’s look at ways we can ease into this New Year with gentle health tips to help us feel better.
Here are 10 easy reminders on how to improve your overall health by making small changes.
- Cut out meat one more meal a week. Do you currently eat meat every night? Go with a meatless Monday. It’s better for your heart, your cholesterol, and the environment. A great alternative to meat is this vegetarian chili with beans, cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips! Another yummy, affordable alternative is eggs. We love having breakfast for dinner and scrambled eggs are one of our faves. It’s hot, delicioso, and goes with condiments like ketchup, hot sauce or fresh salsa. Miam!
- Put the phone down and read. Read to your kids. Visit your local library. Read before bed. Instead of going down a social media rabbit hole, let your brain get some exercise through reading a captivating story. A few of my favorite authors? Frederick Backman, Louis Penny and Nathaniel Philbrick.
- Stick to a consistent work-out. Getting a 20 min walk in once a day is a great health tip. Or a 20 minute morning yoga routine. Love to swim? Find a morning swim group. The key is that you are consistent and give your body regular exercise. As the days grow longer and the holidays are over, you can always add to your health routine. Make sure you do something on a regular basis to boost your stamina, emotional health, and nervous system.
- Rest when you’re tired. Many people- my students, colleagues, and social contacts are waaaay behind on sleep. They almost pride themselves on doing more and staying up later. Studies show we need our rest. The average adult needs a minimum of 7 hours. Less than that and you’ll lower your immune system and overall health. Stick to a good bedtime. Let your body and brain recharge.
- Socialize. Take the time to talk to others in a friendly, fun way. We are all needing more connections after the distancing we experienced with COVID. You don’t have to go the extra mile and try to make friends wherever you go, rather, take the time to make friendly conversation wherever you go. Ask the bank teller or cashier how their day is going. Tell a funny story to a co-worker. Plan a lunch out with your family or friends. Human contact is related to health. In the 21st century, we are good at connecting on social media, but we’re lazy with in-person connections. Take a chance and make conversation.
- Follow a bliss. By this I mean, find a hobby or pursue your pass time. Love embroidering? Turn it into gift making. Into culinary? Take a cooking class or plan a dinner party. Do something that interests you and get better at it. Being a student of an art, learning from doing, is such a healthy way to cultivate happiness. My latest hobbies include sewing felt finger puppets, drawing mandalas, and learning to write blog posts! (Ahem.)
- Write down your blessings. I keep a gratitude journal and I have a daily gratitude habit. At work, when I am tired and just arriving, most days I pull out my notebook and my goal is to write three things I am grateful for. Most days I write five or more. They are specific, they are simple, and bring back more feelings of happiness. This reset to my day makes me kinder and ready to be present for my students. At home, again on workdays, I stand in the hot shower before turning the faucet off and feel the warmth. Then I silently say at least 3 things I am grateful for. Reminding myself of my blessings is humbling and helpful. It makes me feel almost ashamed for my many complaints.
- Warm up by being active. Know anyone who sits around all the time and is always cold? Me too. I’m always cold as well. But one way I know to keep warm is to get your body pumping. Put on layers of clothes and get outside for shoveling, snowshoeing, or a brisk walk. If it’s brutal outside, then get cleaning or doing an indoors workout. Don’t think about it or you just might convince yourself it’s better sitting in front of the woodstove. Remind yourself of the warmth you’ll feel at the end- in mind and body. Moving and building heat from the inside has multiple positive health effects and is a great way to feel good in the middle of a cold winter.
- Reexamine your finances. Take a look at your bank account, income, and spending habits. Are you investing what you would like to be in your retirement account? Are you spending more on needs, and loves, rather than wants? Remember a want is something you like but won’t be joyful to you after six months. A love is an experience you’ll remember or a meaningful, long lasting item. A need of course is health based. You don’t need to be spending on wants. And every dime spent on wants is a dime robbed from being spent on needs and loves. Plan for the future. Make it a happy one.
- Clean out the clutter. When we’re tired, we let things build up. Things we don’t want to handle immediately: the mail, the laundry, the dishes, the toys in the toy room, etc. The winter months, when we spend more time indoors, are a great time to pick a cluttered area to organize. It doesn’t need to take a super long time. Simply get everything off the area you chose- whether it’s a desk, a cabinet, or the island. Sort it into categories. Ditch, donate, put away or put back. Make sure everything has its best spot. Don’t put the clutter back. Either ditch it, donate it, or put it where it goes! Wipe off the desk or cabinet. Arrange the rest of the items attractively. Feel great about taking the time to show your space you love it.
Give yourself the gift of time, health, and happiness this year. Start building habits to make your future brighter.
Happy New Year all! May it be stronger and kinder than the last.
What is your approach to life this New Year? Tell me in the comments.