January is National Staying Healthy Month — a month dedicated to helping us create healthy habits that stick. At least 50% of us start the year with New Year’s resolutions to drink more water, eat more vegetables or exercise regularly. Between work, kids, housework, visiting with friends or family and a slew of other tasks, paying attention to our health tends to get pushed to the bottom of the list. In fact, by February, around 80% of these resolutions will get abandoned, according to Forbes.
Achieving superior physical and mental wellness requires commitment and hard work. Every aspect of wellness can affect daily life, from physical to social to emotional. It’s crucial to pay attention to all aspects rather than focusing solely on one to feel your best. To help you embrace National Staying Healthy Month, we have compiled eight tips for making your health a top priority in 2022!
1. Think about your why
Start by asking yourself why you care about this goal. By doing so, you can tell straight away if this is the right goal for you. If you answer, “I’m doing this because I have to, or my spouse wants me to,” then you will most likely not be invested in this goal. If you answer, “I’m doing this because it is what’s best for my family” or “this is what I am passionate about,” then you become emotionally tied to achieving that particular goal. According to Forbes, people with a strong emotional connection to their goals are almost twice as likely to accomplish them than people with weak ties. If you begin to stray away from your goals, try to establish that emotional attachment to your plan, which will give you ceaseless energy no matter how tough things get.
2. Evaluate your environment
Take a good look at your surroundings and evaluate whether they push you towards your goals or set you back. As humans, we use our environment to direct us on how we should behave. We face hundreds of options and decisions daily, so establishing a productive environment allows us to remove the distractions and minimize the obstacles that get in the way of our success. Also, consider what will make things more convenient. If your goal is to lose weight, then have more healthy snacks on hand rather than junk food. If you are uncomfortable in the gym, try to find an at-home workout that you enjoy. Overall your ideal environment will allow you to do what you want to do while also helping you in areas where you are struggling.
3. Practice self-care
While many of us have to-do lists that are piling up, it’s important to take time to do what makes you feel good. Focusing on yourself doesn’t mean being selfish but prioritizing your needs to improve your mental state. Mental health refers to a person’s emotional, social and psychological well-being categorized by the absence of depression, anxiety or another disorder. Self-care is necessary in order to enjoy life on your terms. Very Well Mind helps us understand the five types of self-care:
- Physical: This includes how you’re taking care of your body through sleep, nutrition, activity, and regular checkups with your doctor.
- Social: Build enough time in your schedule to meet your individual social needs and maintain close relationships with loved ones.
- Mental: Think about how you are filling your mind and keeping it sharp through stimulating activities.
- Spiritual: This doesn’t necessarily mean religion, but anything that helps you develop a more profound sense of meaning, understanding or connection to the universe.
- Emotional: Try developing healthy coping skills to deal with anger, anxiety, sadness and other uncomfortable emotions. Try speaking with someone close to you or set aside time to process those emotions.
If you create a designated time for yourself, it will become part of your routine. Good mental health will allow you to lead a happier life and be better prepared to overcome any challenges that come your way. Read more about how a mental health screening could help you here.
4. Set attainable goals
Goals give you a long-term vision and short-term motivation to help organize your time and resources. Establishing new practices will help you take steps toward your overall goal. One common mistake people make is setting goals that are unrealistic to attain. Try working out twice a week at first rather than five days a week. Once you are in a routine of going twice a week, add in another day. Slowly but surely, these steps will become sustainable changes in your life that you can maintain for the long term without feeling overwhelmed. Also, consider how specific and measurable your goals are. Doing so will help you evaluate your progress over time and make any necessary changes along the way if something is not working.
5. Instead of making changes, create habits
It is easier to make temporary changes than establish new habits, but your actions will soon become part of your routine with repetition. Psychology Today states that the key to transforming your choices into a long-lasting behavioral change involves the use of visual reminders of what you are working towards, repeating small shifts in behavior and documenting the evidence of each positive step. Your habits are also more likely to stick if you enjoy them. Try finding healthy foods you enjoy eating or exercises you want to do so that you can look forward to this part of your day rather than dreading it. Repeating these attainable steps towards your goal for some time will lead to committed actions you take every day.
6. Fuel your body for peak performance
A balanced diet is key to achieving overall wellness. It supplies essential nutrients your body needs to work effectively and fight disease. In fact, diet contributes to four of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Make sure you add in fruits, vegetables and whole grains while limiting saturated fat, starches, sugars and empty calories. It is helpful to pay attention to the nutritional facts of what you feed your body. Monitor fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar, protein, artificial coloring and preservatives. It can be easy to consume more calories than you realize. You might be surprised how much better your body will feel after adjusting your diet.
7. Avoid stress
Prolonged stress can take its toll on your mental health and eventually weaken the body with chronic pain, respiratory symptoms, reduced brain function and less functional gut health. By developing practical tools to cope with stress, you can reduce the harsh effects on the body and be prepared to deal with negative emotions as they come. Effective tools for managing stress may include:
- Breathing or meditation exercises.
- Engaging in regular physical activity.
- Maintaining a social support network or journaling.
Spiritual health can also provide a sense of calm and purpose that fuels good mental health through volunteering, practicing mindfulness, connecting with others and giving back to the community. By managing your stress levels regularly, you will see many benefits including better sleep, weight control, less muscle tension, improved mood and boosted immune system.
8. Schedule your next wellness appointment
An annual wellness exam is a preventative measure to staying healthy all year long. It can help detect problems before they become more serious. Use this time to discuss any concerns with your doctor that may be hindering you from feeling your absolute best. Your overall health and wellness are important to us at KC Primary Care. We offer our members an annual wellness program based on their individual health needs and goals, including medical weight loss, medication, pharmaceutical-grade supplements, hormone replacement therapy and much more. We would love to help you create healthy habits that stick all year long! To get started on your customized wellness plan, give us a call at 816-479-5222 or send us a message.