This article was written for us by Jennifer McGregor.
The year has come to a close, a new one is here. That doesn’t mean you have to wait until the start of a new year to start living a healthier lifestyle. In fact, healthy living is a lifetime goal, not a yearly one. These head-to-toe health strategies will do your mind and body some good, not to mention help you get into a routine so that the new year starts off with a bang.
Take a Break
Use that vacation day. If it’s going unused, what good is it to you? Use that time off to take a mental break. If you don’t want the stress of traveling far, take a staycation so you can get away while still feeling at home and being able to continue cooking healthy meals or doing a living room yoga session. Vacation rental sites make it easy to find the right accommodations, leaving you to enjoy your mental health day, weekend, or week. No matter where you go to take a break, make sure it is also relaxed and stress-free. Keep things simple by eating a hearty breakfast, doing some exercise, taking a nap, or simply doing something you enjoy such as drawing or journaling.
Eat the Right Way
When you think about eating right, you probably picture fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, low sugar, etc. You’re right; your body needs carbs for energy, protein to build/repair muscles, healthy fats for an added energy boost, and vitamins and minerals to support your body’s various systems. However, you might need to switch things up a bit if there’s a particular health-related goal you’re hoping to achieve. For example, if you suffer from a condition that causes chronic pain, incorporating foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties would be a good start (e.g., berries, avocados, grapes, and even dark chocolate). Suffering from anxiety? Foods such as bananas, avocados, salmon, chia seeds, and almonds contain mood-boosting nutrients. There are even some apps you can use to monitor your diet like Fooducate and My Diet Coach.
Move Your Body
Exercise has some easy-to-spot physical effects such as muscle gain and weight loss, but an aerobic workout does a lot of behind-the-scenes work as well. Regular exercise helps to boost your immune system, reduce the risk of chronic health conditions (heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes), strengthen your heart and lungs, and boost your energy and mood. The best part is that exercise is literally anything that gets you moving, such as dancing, jumping rope, paddle boarding, and yoga. Keep in mind that exercise is tough on your body, so be sure to rest and perhaps incorporate a little massage to work through the soreness, reduce inflammation, and increase flexibility.
To keep your fitness routine interesting and enjoyable, consider using a fitness tracker device. This gadget can track all sorts of activity, whether you’re running, biking, swimming, or just walking to work. While basic fitness trackers can monitor how many steps you take and your distance traveled, smartwatches come with all kinds of extra features like high heart rate notifications and emergency SOS.
Listen to Yourself
The easiest way to determine what your mind and body needs is by taking a moment to listen to what it’s trying to tell you. Have you been struggling to keep your emotions in check, lashing out, or getting upset much more easily? Are you having a hard time keeping up and feeling as though you are constantly at war with the clock to be on time to work or even just a coffee date with a friend? Do you feel as though you are in a constant state of exhaustion? Listen to yourself and give your body the TLC it needs.
Health doesn’t refer to one particular body part – it’s head to toe. More importantly, it’s about listening to your body and giving it what it needs to thrive. These strategies can put you on the right path to good health.
By Jennifer McGregor