Healthy Habits to Make 2023 the Year of You
We admit it. We’re feeling relieved that the January onslaught of weight loss and fitness commercials has (mostly) subsided. It’s not that we’re anti-New Year’s aspirations. Not at all. It’s just that all this talk of resolutions can get a little tiresome. While it’s tempting to approach a new year with Big Plans for Living a Better Life, most resolutions tend to sputter and die out by Valentine’s Day and the pattern continues year after year!
Is there an alternative? Yes! It’s called “creating new habits” and it’s the best way to make real, lasting change, the kind of change that can reduce your health risks and improve the energy and endurance you bring to your daily activities. In this blog post we dig into the science behind new habits and suggest some of those most likely to make a difference for you.
What’s Wrong with Resolutions?
What makes resolutions so fleeting for many people? Professor and human transformation specialist Dr. Barbara O’Neill explains, “One reason New Year’s resolutions are so difficult to keep is that they require a change in behavior.” She cites eating less or exercising more as examples. Dr. O’Neill points out that people resist change because it’s hard and requires lots of mental energy, willpower, and motivation. Sticking with the status quo is much easier.
But habits are different, she says. When an action becomes a habit, there’s no need to remember where, when, or how to do it. It’s part of your daily routine. One smart habit-building approach is known as “stacking.” It means incorporating a desired behavior into something you already do. Examples are hitting the gym on the way to work or flossing after brushing.
Other strategies for creating healthy habits:
- Start small. Focus on a small new habit you can maintain and build on it steadily. When you fall off the wagon—a few days of too many sweets or not enough exercise—don’t beat yourself up. Forget about yesterday and look ahead.
- Don’t change alone. Build accountability as you build new habits by enlisting the help of a friend or family member. Make a date with your neighbor for a regular Saturday morning walk. Sign up for a healthy cooking class with your spouse or partner.
- Celebrate the wins. Reward yourself for establishing a new, healthy habit by giving yourself a treat at regular intervals.
- Be realistic. Losing 50 pounds is daunting. But deciding to walk 10 minutes per day is a small doable change that can eventually result in habits that will help you meet your larger goals.
When an action becomes a habit, there’s no need to remember where, when, or how to do it.
Our Favorite Habits
If you’re reading this blog, chances are good that beginning a journey towards a healthier lifestyle is a priority for you. While everyone has a different vision of what a healthier lifestyle looks like, making small lifestyle changes makes sense for almost everyone. Small lifestyle changes can help to improve your chances of avoiding illness over time and can improve your quality of life.
Grab an extra half hour of sleep. Sleep is medicine, the experts say. Many of us fall short of the 7-8 recommended hours each night. Too little sleep can contribute to weight gain and may increase your chance of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Learn something new. New skills stretch your mind and keep your brain healthy. The mental effort of learning Spanish or playing the ukulele can slow the signs of aging.
Take a lunchtime walk. Whether you’re working from home or in an office, a 10-minute mid-day walk can make a difference in your cardiovascular health. Exercise doesn’t have to be 60 consecutive minutes of sweaty pounding. Ten minutes here or there add up!
Ditch the diet soda. If you drink diet soda to reduce the amount of sugar you consume, bravo. The problem is artificial sweeteners have their own health risks. While it may be hard, you’ll do yourself a huge favor by replacing this habit. If plain water isn’t your thing, try some of the fruit-infused carbonated beverages out there.
Eat in technicolor. Counting calories and controlling portions are effective ways to manage what you consume. Another great habit is making sure most of your meal consists of colorful foods. Look at your plate—if it’s filled primarily with green, yellow, and red foods, you’ve likely got a healthy meal.
Stick to your medication routine. Taking your medications as the doctor prescribed—the right dose at the right time—is another long-term health habit that will serve you well in preventing illness and health related complications. If you are having difficulty remembering to take your medications on time, a healthy habit to start could be to begin to set a reminder alarm for when to take your medications. (Get more tips on how to take your medications safely and avoid medication errors on our blog.)
Give your teeth some love. Taking care of your teeth and gums, including proper brushing and flossing, can help stave off other health problems. Your mouth is the gateway to your digestive and respiratory systems. Some studies say that heart disease and stroke may be linked to inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria.
Plan Meals in Advance. Everybody knows the feeling. You come home, tired and hungry, with no thought of what to have for dinner. So you reach in the ‘fridge and grab the first thing, or three, you see. Some basic meal planning puts you, not your hunger, in control. Figuring out what to have, shopping, and prepping takes time, but it’s worth it to sit down to a nutritious, satisfying meal, even on a busy day.
Taking your meds as the doctor prescribed—the right dose at the right time—is a long-term health habit that will serve you well.
Cheers to a Healthy Year!
If hiking through France or becoming a pickleball champion are on your list of New Year’s resolutions, we applaud your ambition. But when it comes to making lasting changes in your health status, we think your best bet is small, sensible, lifestyle changes.
One of the smartest habits we know is staying on top of your medical supplies by ordering monthly from Home Care Delivered. HCD carries everything you need for diabetes management, incontinence, advanced wound care, ostomy, and urological conditions. Reach us by text, phone, or online and we take it from there, communicating with your doctor and completing Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance paperwork for you. Once you order, we rush your supplies to you in a plain brown box. No traffic. No running low on essentials to help you manage diabetes or incontinence. No hassle.
To get started just give us a call at 866-938-3906.
Healthy habits aren’t rocket science. But they certainly can help blast you into a year of better health!