With the start of a new year, health and wellness is on many of our minds. Here are 10 self care ideas to consider in the new year!
1) Carve Out Time for Breakfast
Ever since you were a child, people have told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Still, if you are like many of us, breakfast can be an afterthought —if you make time for it at all.
What you eat in the morning can fuel you up for a focused, productive day. It can also energize and stabilize your mood.
A great way to make sure you do not skip breakfast is to learn one new healthy breakfast recipe you ADORE.
2) Start Strength Training
A recent article showed an interesting finding. For months, Juna Gjata, the co-host of WBUR’s new podcast, “Food, We Need To Talk,” asked every eating expert she interviewed the same question: “If you could tell people to change only one thing that would have the biggest impact on their health for the rest of their lives, what would it be?
When limited to just one recommendation for lifelong health, none of them focused on food. All had the same answer: just exercise. And several focused on one particular type: resistance exercise — also known as strength training — as the best benefit for the least amount of time.
Here is a few strength-training exercises from Harvard Health to get you started.Be sure to check out these 8 tips, also from Harvard Health, for safe and effective strength-training!
3) Commit to One Low Impact Exercise in Your Routine
During the flurry of New Year’s Resolutions, many immediately jump to routines involving cardio in order to have a high impact. While this may be a great thing to add, do not forget the value of low-impact activities that you do on a routine basis. They may not have the same calorie burn, but they are great for both stress and physical health, including joint health.
Activities such as Pilates, yoga and even good old-fashioned walking can be a staple that over time changes your wellness and that can be embraced in less overwhelming ways.
Don’t forget that activities such as swimming and Tai-Chi can also help you maintain flexibility, core/stabilizer strength and joint health! (Check out this additional resource: 5 of the best exercises you can ever do, from Harvard Health).
4) Make Gratitude A Daily Practice
They say being thankful is a choice: and it is definitely a way to bring more joy into your year.
What are you grateful for? What is fulfilling to you? How can you appreciate your life, just as it is? Remembering the blessings each day can help turn stresses into blessings and improve both our mood and our physical wellness.
Watch this video by Brené Brown: Gratitude Makes Us Joyful! “What I found, 12 years of research, 11,000 pieces of data, I did not interview in all that time a person who would describe themselves as joyous…who did not practice gratitude. …Practicing gratitude invites joy in our lives.”
5) Eat For Nourishment
We all have dietary goals, and we all receive mixed advice. One thing is for sure: dietary guidelines that are overly restrictive and tied to food shame can wind up making us miserable. With all the dietary advice out there, it can be hard to remember that every body is different.
Adopt nutritional patterns that work FOR YOU. Having a positive relationship with food is all about nurturing our own INDIVIDUAL bodies: not about harshly regulating what we eat to obsessive ends.
Remember: just because something works for other people doesn’t mean it is right for you.
6) Check Your Self-Talk
You know the saying, “We are our own worst critics”? Let 2020 be the decade you commit to checking your self-talk. Extend yourself the grace, compassion and kindness to build yourself up.
As Tara Brach says, “Rarely have I made a positive change in my life by being down on myself.” The more we harshly judge and degrade ourselves, the harder it is to reach our healthy goals!
7) Use Self Care Tools
Whether it’s work or play, the body can take a toll. Whether it be the result of exercise, long hours at a computer, or the rigor of performing massage, the body always can use some personal TLC.
8) Choose a Word of the Year
Make 2020 all about vision! We want you to get crystal clear on ONE goal. Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees.
Consider choosing a word of the year for 2020. This word can reflect your values, goals and ambitions and serve as a mindfulness tool to guide you through your days! Need some suggestions? Check out this resource (1,000+ Positive Words to Write Your Life By)!
9) Do Some Strategic Planning
2020 is not just a NEW year but a NEW decade. This makes it a great time for longer-term planning, vision and goals. You know the saying Rome wasn’t built in a day? Neither is your life, and the small steps we take each day shape the trajectory for the long-term.
Where do you see yourself next year? Where do you want to be in the next two years, the next 5 years, next 7 years, and next 10 years? What are your career visions, your financial visions (savings and investments), self-care visions, family goals, and/or personal goals?
Investing a little time for strategic planning for your self can give you a broader idea of where you want to be, which can allow you to start thinking more concretely about the steps you need to take to get there. You can also set benchmarks to plot out how small steps will be signifying the progress to larger outcomes!!
Life changes, and by no means does this have to be carved in stone. This is more about leading a purpose-driven life, and if you think about goals over the course of different time periods, you will have a clearer since of your own life vision, life path, and be better prepared to make the most of not just the year but also o the decade!
10) Create a Bedtime Ritual
Did you know there’s a term for your bedtime rituals and nightly habits? Collectively, these behaviors are known as sleep hygiene. This year, we want you to sleep well!
Here are a few signs of poor sleep hygiene:
- Frequent sleep disturbances
- Daytime sleepiness
- Taking too long to fall asleep
And, here are a few tips for better sleep:
- Consistency: Go to bed and awake at the same time even on weekends
- Comfort: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable, cool temperature. Remove distracting electronics from bedroom
- Avoid: Large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime, and avoid naps if possible during the daytime
- Exercise: Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep
- Get Sunshine: It may seem counter-intuitive, given our harping about the importance of sleeping in a dark room, but a daily dose of sunshine can actually help you sleep better.
Consider adding a night time ritual to unwind. You might try an evening meditation with tea. Or, perhaps Aromatherapy speaks to you
And, of course, there is one additional thing that may improve sleep: getting a massage!
Research has shown that massage therapy may variously improve the quality of sleep. For more information, see the AMTA’s approved position statement that massage therapy can help improve sleep. Or you can visit this 2017 article by the AMTA on massage for improved mood and sleep, which also has a printable handout download that can be shared with your massage therapy clients!
.Wishing you all a great new year!