When there are too many things going on in your life to keep track of, it might be easy to forget to prioritize one’s physical health. Mental well-being may also be neglected. It might seem that there are so many things that are out of your control. Luckily, lifestyle changes that promote better physical health can always be made and these ultimately enhance one’s mental well-being. The start of a new year is an excellent time for resolving to continue good practices, change unhealthy behaviors, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve one’s life. Several lifestyle changes that can aid in this may include exercise, adequate sleeping habits, healthful eating habits, social support, and self-care. Here are some tips that may help promote a healthy lifestyle in the new year.
Exercising can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle in many ways. For example, routinely engaging in exercise can improve one’s overall health, enhance memory, reduce chronic stress, and improve self-esteem. In fact, exercise is an antidepressant! You feel better when you work out. It has been recommended that devoting just a few minutes a day is a great first step in making exercise a part of one’s routine. Some tips for different ways to exercise:
- Visit the gym – go alone or invite a friend.
- Yoga or pilates – in person or through online videos.
- Take a walk – go with a pet or a friend!
- Take the scenic route – use stairs instead of elevators.
Of course, social distancing, wearing a mask, and following CDC guidelines is important while you engage in the above activities.
Having a healthy sleep schedule can help both your mind and your body. Creating a healthy sleep schedule can help you function better and feel better during the day. A good sleep schedule may lead to enhancements in one’s mental performance, strengthen one’s immune system, and improve memory. Here are some tips to improve sleep:
- Limit or eliminate afternoon naps.
- Reduce screen-time before bed.
- Avoid late-night meals or caffeine intake.
- Create a peaceful resting environment.
Healthy Eating Habits
Implementing healthy changes in your daily diet can have a big effect on your health and mood. Having healthy eating habits may reduce risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and even cancer. A healthy daily diet will look different for each individual, and habits that work for one person may work differently for someone else. Some tips to consider when creating healthy eating habits:
- Eat regular meals.
- Add fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet.
- Drink water — stay hydrated!
- Reduce sodium, sugar, and junk food intake.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
- Limit trips to Taco Palenque — and other fast food restaurants.
Achieving a healthier lifestyle is not something that has to be done by yourself. Spending time with family and friends is a great way to enhance one’s overall well-being. Having social support can help encourage the development and maintenance of the healthy behaviors previously mentioned. Social support can come from family, friends, or people you just met! Some tips to help create a social network:
- Volunteering – get involved! You will meet other people interested in what you are interested in.
- Extracurricular activities – find hobbies to do with friends and family.
- Stay connected – remain in contact with friends and family or meet new people through online platforms!
Again, doing these activities while adhering to CDC COVID-19 guidelines is important!
Self-care can aid in improving both a healthy lifestyle and your overall well-being. It is common to think that you do not have time for self-care, but it is important and sometimes necessary. Prioritizing self-care in your daily routine can improve your overall well-being, happiness, and satisfaction with life. If you can improve those domains of your life, you can better attend to the work that needs to get done — and do it well. Some tips on what to do for self-care:
- Mindfulness and meditation exercises – videos available online!
- Read a book – find a comfy spot.
- Keep a diary – track how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.
- Breathe mindfully – just take a few deep breaths, use your senses (what do you hear?), be present in the moment.
Words of Advice
While these are only a few ways that you can help create a healthy lifestyle, find what works best for you. Initiating good lifestyle habits is the first step toward creating a lasting healthy life. It is never too early (or too late) to start living a healthy life, so start today!
Mindfulness & Meditation: https://psychcentral.com/blog/1-minute-mindfulness-exercises/
Diet and Sleep Health: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/foods-that-help-you-sleep/faq-20057763
Tropical Texas Behavioral Center Crisis Hotline: 1-877-289-7199
Co-authors include Dr. Mercado’s Mental Health Lab at UTRGV: Amanda Palomin, Andy Torres, Frances Morales, Pablo Ruiz, Maria Sevilla-Matos, Stephanie Navarro, Sandra Chapa, Abraham Jimenez, and Josue Cerroblanco.