A new year represents a fresh beginning, and it’s a great time to start building healthy habits. Even if you haven’t yet made a new year’s resolution, it’s not too late to start considering some healthier options for 2018. Now is the time to address that holiday weight gain or start focusing on your mental health. Below are eight physical and mental habits you can easily develop and refine to become healthier and maybe even happier in the new year.
- Eat less sugar
With overwhelming evidence mounting about the harmful effects of heavy sugar consumption, one of the best improvements you can make to your health is to eat less sugar. The problem is that sugar is everywhere and can be difficult to spot.
Pay attention to food labels, and always check for grams of sugar;if you can stick to foods with a low sugar content but high fiber content, you will be well on your way to eating healthier.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “People who consume sugary drinks regularly—1 to 2 cans a day or more—have a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.” By cutting out soft drinks alone, you could reduce these risks and take a meaningful step toward a healthier lifestyle.
- Drink more water
Another simple health change to make is to drink more water. Adults require 4-6 glasses of water a day, but many do not drink enough. Water is an incredible resource with a number of health benefits, including smoother skin, reduced bloating, and even weight loss.
But perhaps best of all, people who drink more than five or six glasses of water a day are 40 percent less likely to suffer from a heart-related death. By making this small change and being more conscious of your water consumption, your health can improve dramatically.
- Quit smoking
While the average number of smokers in the general population has decreased, 15 percent of the adult population (36.5 million Americans) still currently smoke cigarettes, according to the CDC. If this number includes you, make 2018 the year you decrease or eliminate smoking once and for all. For those looking for an alternative to cigarettes, Juul e-cigarettes or a nicotine patch are good tar-free alternatives that can help you make the transition to giving up the habit for good.
- Drink Less Alcohol
While some alcohol consumption is ok, moderate to heavy drinkers should consider drinking less as a new year’s resolution. After all, alcohol is a drug, and consuming too much of it can have severe side effects.
Alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the United States in 2015, according to NIAAA. There is no need to cut responsible drinking completely, but you may find that less alcohol consumption leads to better physical and mental health.
- Take a walk
Another easy lifestyle change is to walk a little bit more in 2018. Walking is free and accessible no matter where you live. Why not make it a point to walk for at least 30 minutes a day?
That can be as simple as parking your car a little farther away from the door when you go out or opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, but it’s critical for your health.Only 48 percent of all adults get enough aerobic physical activity according to the CDC, so help boost that statistic by taking more walks and getting your heart pumping.
- Attend a fitness class
Going to the gym is tough. Motivating yourself to get up and run on a treadmill for 30 minutes takes a considerable amount of personal dedication. To vary your fitness routine and add an additional sense of accountability, consider enrolling in a fitness class instead.
The social aspect of a fitness class is great motivation. An astounding 95 percent of fitness studio memberssay the instructor is a crucial element of the experience, and one that keeps them coming back. A great instructor, combined with new-found fitness friends, is the perfect reason to get out the door and start moving.
- Keep a personal journal
Refocus yourself in 2018 mentally by starting a personal journal; journaling is a great tool for enhancing focus. Mental health and physical health are not mutually exclusive, either. In fact, one study found that 76 percent of adults who spent 20 minutes writing about their thoughts and feelings healed faster after a medical procedure than those who did not journal, so just imagine what other physical health benefits this kind of mental self-care could provide.
- Spend time in fresh air
In 2018, make it a point to spend more time outdoors. Research shows that spending time in the fresh air surrounded by nature boosts energy in 90 percent of people. Who doesn’t want to have more energy to accomplish all those goals you’ve set for the new year?
Let 2018 be the year your physical and mental health take precedence over the daily grind. A healthy person is a happy person, and if you want to become the healthiest, happiest version of yourself, you should consider eating less sugar, drinking more water, and consuming less alcohol. Journaling and walking (especially outside) are other good health practices to adopt in the new year.
What changes are you making to your routine in 2018?