The new year can be an exciting time, brimming with the promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s also an opportunity to recommit to your health and well-being: Eat better. Exercise three times each week. Drink more water.
Creating these resolutions is easy enough. Sticking to them beyond the month of January, however, is another story.
Whether the new year has you feeling totally inspired or a tad overwhelmed, Johns Hopkins experts have some advice to help you make – and keep – your healthy resolutions for 2018.
1. Practice mindful eating
These days, it’s common to chow down with your eyes glued to a screen, but eating when you’re distracted leads to overeating. Take time to slow down and pay attention to your food, pausing to put down utensils between bites. “When you eat mindfully, it’s easier to notice when you feel full, plus you’re more likely to enjoy the foods you eat,” says Johns Hopkins dietitian and research nutritionist Diane Vizthum.
2. Chill out and rest up
According to Johns Hopkins sleep expert Rachel Salas, M.D., when it’s time to sleep, it’s time to chill – literally. Knocking the thermostat down to 68 degrees or lower before you tuck into bed can help you sleep better. Darken your room by drawing the curtains or dimming the display on your alarm clock to really get those quality Zs.
3. Adopt an attitude of gratitude
Take some time at the beginning or end of the day to reflect on what you’re grateful for. “A daily grateful check-in or keeping a grateful journal is a way to shift your focus and minimize the distorting influence of stress. Reminding ourselves of the small, everyday positive aspects of our lives helps to develop a sense of balance and perspective that can enhance well-being,” says Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Susan Lehmann, M.D.
4. Find 30 minutes a day to walk
Getting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise each day can be as simple as taking a walk. If you’ve got a busy schedule, take three 10-minute walks throughout your day. “That’s 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes at lunch and then 10 minutes after work. Make it fun! Grab a partner at work to get you through your lunch routine. Then have a friend or family member meet you for an evening stroll,” suggests Johns Hopkins physical therapist Stacie Page.
5. Take the stairs
Making small, daily changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator may seem minor, but they can make a big difference for your heart in the long run. “Individuals who are physically active are much less likely to develop cardiovascular disease,” explains Johns Hopkins cardiologist Chiadi E. Ndumele, M.D., M.H.S.
6. Commit to a 30-day fitness challenge
Pick a fitness activity that’s easy and doesn’t require equipment, and commit to it for 30 days. There are many options to challenge yourself: practicing yoga, taking regular walks or joining a fitness class. “Find what motivates you. Whatever you do, make yourself accountable or find an accountability partner. Whether your goal is to lose weight, lower cholesterol or have more energy to play with young ones, you have the power to make a change,” encourages Page.
As always, talk with your doctor before beginning your journey to a healthier you.