A new year is the perfect time to turn your life around. The period of Christmas and New Year has just passed by, and you may be feeling a little under the weather as a result of overeating, drinking too much, and being cooped up indoors to avoid the cold weather.
But January has arrived and you have another twelve months to look forward to. It’s the time when people start setting resolutions and goals they wish to achieve over the coming year. Your health is one of the important things you should be thinking about. You only have one body in this life, and you must take care of it if you want to live to a happy and comfortable old age.
We all have bad habits we cling to from time to time, and very few people on earth could say they never falter when it comes to living healthily. But it’s about doing the best we can. Making a conscious effort to look after our minds and bodies and avoid health complications.
Now that 2024 is upon us, how are you going to turn your health around? There are so many small changes you can make to your life that will add up to a huge improvement in your well-being. To give you the inspiration and motivation to make meaningful changes, here are eight great ways to kickstart your health in 2024.
It will be very difficult to transform your health if you don’t set yourself goals. Stepping into the new year with a vague hope that you’ll become fitter or thinner is unlikely to lead to success. You’ll probably start well, going to the gym throughout January and eating more vegetables, but without clear focus or targets, your good intentions will eventually fall to the wayside.
In order to make great things happen, it’s essential that you set some clear goals for the year. The exact health targets you want to hit will depend on your circumstances and values, but it may involve losing weight, bulking up, or cutting out unhealthy habits. Whatever your goals may be, you should ensure they are SMART.
A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive. This means you should avoid setting loose targets like “get fitter” or “lose weight.” Instead, a more effective goal would be “lose twenty pounds by the end of the year,” or “run the New York Marathon in November.”
These goals give you a clear measure of success, and a timeframe in which to achieve it. This will ensure you stay focused on your objective and can measure your progress each and every day. You will stay motivated for longer and your health will feel the benefit.
Start an exercise regime
Everybody needs exercise. It doesn’t matter whether you are a champion weightlifter, a half-marathon runner, or a casual gym goer, any amount of physical activity can boost your health and make you feel great. But it’s sometimes difficult to summon the motivation to work out. Especially at this time of year when it’s freezing outside and you just want to wrap up warm and watch movies on the couch.
But it’s more than ever to make the effort. Pushing through your reluctance and doing some exercise will make you mentally stronger, as well as physically. Start a regular exercise regime that ensures you move your body at least three times a week. In order to maximize your chances of keeping it up, you don’t want to do an exercise that you hate. Find a sport you love and stick to it. This may be running, cycling, or working out at the gym. Maybe it’s something a little more unusual like kickboxing or water polo. If you don’t like exercising alone, find a friend or relative who can join you for these sessions.
Although it may be difficult at first, as you build your good habits and your fitness increases you will start to love it.
Improve your diet
We all forget about eating healthily over Christmas. There are so many delicious treats around that it’s impossible to keep saying no. There’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself now and then, but it’s important to find balance. Start your year off with a new and improved diet, making sure you get in plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.
There is no need to follow any restrictive fad diets as long as you are eating a good balance of different foods and restraining from overindulgence. An occasional sweet treat or fast food meal is fine, as long as it isn’t the norm. The best way to stick to your eating goals is to plan your meals for the week. This ensures you can prepare nutritious meals for each day and avoids the risk of last minute takeaways and snacking.
Get outside more
The benefits of nature on our physical and mental health are overwhelming. When it’s cold and great outdoors it’s difficult to step out the front door, but it’s important you make an effort to spend time in nature. Just going for a walk, a bike ride, or a gentle jog is not only great exercise but it will have a profound impact on your mental health. You’ll be breathing in fresh air, moving your muscles, and spending valuable time away from screens.
You will feel more relaxed, less stressed, and better able to face the challenges that 2024 may bring. So rather than sticking the TV on or scrolling through Instagram, call up a friend and go for a walk in the park with a hot drink. Visit a local botanical garden or nature reserve. Drive out to the countryside and see more of your local area. You will not regret it.
Minimize screen time
Every single one of us spends far too much time on a screen. Using phones and computers is unavoidable, as most of us need them for work or socializing with loved ones. But it’s very easy to let them take over our lives. How much time did you spend on social media last year? Or just aimlessly switching from app to app because you were bored and there was nothing else to do.
Phones are designed to be addictive, and as well as being a colossal waste of time, they also have hugely negative impacts on your mental health, attention span, self-esteem, and quality of sleep.
Although phones are essential for modern life, there is no reason you can’t reduce your screen time and only use your device when it is absolutely essential. Most phones allow you to change your app settings so you can only use them for a certain amount of time each day. Bring a book with you wherever you go so you can read in your downtime rather than scrolling through Instagram. Take up a non-digital hobby like playing an instrument or making crafts so you can do something more wholesome with your free time.
As you reduce your reliance on technology, you will feel less stressed and notice your focus and concentration greatly improves.
Drink less alcohol
It’s very easy to drink too much in December. Christmas parties, work drinks and New Year’s celebrations can all add up. And although a little alcohol is not a problem, overindulgence will lead to all kinds of health problems and make you feel lethargic and weak. If you have a tendency to drink too much, try to cut down your intake. Maybe limit your drinking to special occasions, or find non-alcoholic beverages to replace your usual tipple. If drinking is more than just a casual habit for you, take a look at your intake and decide whether or not you need additional help. There are numerous support groups or alcohol rehab centers that can make a huge difference.
Get more sleep
Our bodies rely on sleep to keep our brains alert, conserve energy, and ensure we have enough rest to function properly the next day. Without adequate sleep, our minds and bodies operate less effectively and we are more prone to all kinds of health complications.
Most scientists suggest eight hours of sleep a day for optimum function, but some say we need even more than that. Improving the quantity and quality of your sleep will improve all aspects of your life from your work performance to your mental health. Boost your sleep hygiene by turning off all devices at least an hour before bed and cutting out caffeine in the afternoons. Try to minimize sources of stress in your life that keep you tossing and turning into the early hours and consider using a sleep tracker to monitor your levels of rest each night.
In summary, only you can know the best way to improve your health and kick the bad habits this year. By setting SMART goals and identifying which aspects of yourwellbeing are most important, you will end 2024 on a high, feeling happier, stronger, and fitter. Good luck on your wellness journey!