In a few days, we’ll be watching the ball drop and welcoming 2022!
For some, a new year brings a chance to have a fresh start. For others, the pressure of “starting over” every January can feel overwhelming. We’re discussing a few healthy intentions you can take with you into the new year, and how to manage your resolutions so they stick.
Let’s Talk Specifics
When making resolutions, planning is essential to their success. Broadly generalizing your goals can deter you from accomplishing them. A great method to achieve your resolutions long-term is to set multiple small goals throughout the year. Doing this will help you stay on track better than setting one, life-changing goal on January 1st. The more specific you are, the better!
If your resolutions look more like a laundry list of to-dos, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure. Think about what really matters to you, and what themes seem to keep coming up in your life. If you resolve to “be healthier,” then what does that look like?
For many, losing weight is a resolution on the list every year. We all tend to indulge during the holidays, as we should! But come New Year’s Day we’re ready to punish ourselves for all the holiday goodies we ate. The extra sluggishness you feel might be from bloating, water retention, or simply not being in your regular routine. Whatever the reason, things will most likely correct themselves as January progresses, so focus on diving back into good habits instead of fad diets. Your overall health has so many more factors than just the number on a scale. This year, let’s focus on nourishing our mind, body, and spirit in all aspects of life for a more balanced picture of health!
Healthy Intentions to Set for 2022
1. Cook something new each week
Expanding your pallet can bring variety into your life that will benefit you in so many ways. For starters, consuming home-cooked meals is almost always healthier than eating out. Since you can control the ingredients, make substitutions, and determine your own portions, doing the cooking yourself generally leads to less calorie and fat intake. Plus, it can help expand your horizons as you try new things and serve as a way to spend more quality time with those you love.
Try an around the world approach with your significant other or children and dedicate one day a week to cooking new cuisine from another country. You might be surprised how quickly your culinary skills can improve with a little practice!
2. Clean up your space
There’s something so refreshing about putting up all your holiday decorations and welcoming spring with a clean slate. How nice would it be if you kept it up all year? We know, easier said than done, but this is one intention that can really help your mentality if done regularly. When our home is cluttered, it can feel like our mind is too.
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that people tend to be more attentive and productive in clean environments. And according to a National Sleep Foundation study, 66% of people say they sleep better in a clean bedroom. Sounds like a win, win to us!
3. Cut back on alcohol
Do you feel like your holiday spirit was fueled by spirits? If so, you’re in good company. With holiday parties, longer, colder nights, and festive drinks like mulled wine and peppermint martinis on the menu, most people notice a vast increase in drinking around the holidays.
Eventually, it can start taking a toll on your body and weaken your immune system. Replacing cocktails with a non-alcoholic alternative can help improve your mood, sleep, energy levels, skin, and more. Consider cutting back on alcohol for a bit and see how your life improves in 2022. Need encouragement? Enlist a friend to follow the #sobercurious movement with you, and hold each other accountable.
4. Quit smoking & vaping
If you’ve been looking for that one last push to ditch the cigarettes or vapes—let this be it.
Did you know that the second you decide to quit, your body starts to repair the damages caused by smoking or vaping tobacco? When you stop using, your risk of disease, cancers, and death decreases while things like your heart rate, skin, sense of smell, and quality of life increase. Not to mention your productivity will skyrocket when your day doesn’t revolve around your next smoke break or puff. And think about all the money you spend on this habit. What could you buy with the money you’d save? Let that help motivate you into quitting for good this year!
For tips on how to quit, click here.
5. Read more
Another year down, another year older. As we age, it’s important to keep our brain functioning in tip-top shape. Reading helps keep your mind sharp by building stronger connections in the brain. Studies show that through reading, different parts of your brain light up on an MRI scan. This engagement improves cognitive function and can help you expand your knowledge and vocabulary along the way. We can learn so much by picking up a good book a few times a week!
A 2009 study found that 30 minutes of reading a day lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of distress and depression. It’s also a peaceful way to wind down before bed and get better sleep at night. Check out this article, “13 Books to Read for a Happier, More Productive, and Less Stressed 2022.”
6. Get some fresh air
In the age of abundant technology and an ongoing pandemic, it’s only natural to feel cooped up. One of the best ways to clear your mind is to get outside and get your blood pumping.
How amazing does it feel to take a long, deep breath and feel the crisp winter air hit your lungs? Spending time outdoors has a slew of benefits, from boosting vitamin D levels, to incorporating more exercise into your routine, it’s a simple way to improve your health. A University of Pittsburgh study showed that spinal surgery patients experienced less stress and pain and took less pain medication if they were exposed to the outdoors during recovery. Sometimes nature is the best healer, so get outside and get moving!
7. Phone a friend
Although the holidays are joyous for some, they leave a lot of people feeling lonely. Add seasonal disorders in the mix, and it’s common for people to struggle more in the winter months. If you’re feeling disconnected, call a loved one. Regularly exchanging phone calls, even if just for a few minutes, can boost your happiness and sense of belonging.
Feeling a connection with a friend or family member can do wonders for our well-being and sharing a good laugh or just venting about your day can benefit you more than you think. So, make an effort to pick up the phone a few times a week or month and check in with your people. You never know who may need that call just as much if not more than you do.
8. Limit screen time
This may seem like a contradictory goal to have on the heels of making more phone calls, but hey, life is all about balance!
Screens are everywhere we turn these days, it’s almost impossible to avoid them. Too much time on your phone, watching TV, or gaming can kill your productivity levels and lead to health issues associated with a sedentary life. And we all know how fixating on social media and doom-scrolling the news can negatively affect our headspace. Another major reason to cut back on screen time is the effect blue light has on our bodies. The blue light our screens give off can cause damage to our eyes, energy levels, and sleep cycles. Let’s vow to put our devices down for a bit and plug into our surroundings more this year.
9. Get more quality sleep
Sleep is not a luxury, it’s essential for good health. But often when our schedules get busy, it’s one of the first things compromised. Habitually not getting the proper amount of quality sleep does more than just leave you feeling exhausted. It can have damaging effects like memory issues, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease. Lack of sleep can also affect your judgment, coordination, and mood. When we give our brain and nervous system a chance to rest, we wake up feeling calmer and clearer.
We encourage you to get to bed 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual for one month and see how your life changes. This resolution pairs seamlessly with reading more and limiting screen time!
10. Make the appointments
Everything in life takes upkeep, and our health is no exception. Take a moment and do a mental check; what maintenance needs to be done? Do you have any new moles that need to be checked or a tooth that’s been bugging you? Are you up to date on all your screenings and check-ups? Whatever that thing you’ve been putting off may be, the new year is the perfect time to give your doctor a call!
And for all emergency care, we are here for you and your family 24/7, 365 days a year—even on holidays! We wish you a happy and healthy New Year!
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, SE Texas ER & Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.