Few things in life are harder than breaking old habits and making new ones. But our health requires that we take a look at our actions and think about ways we can make better choices. A new year is a great time to examine your habits and consider which ones you could change over the next 12 months. Even small changes can make a big difference! Talk with your doctor about things you can do to improve your overall health, but until then, here are four common habits to kick and a few new resolutions to help you get started on your new journey.
Smoking is linked to a number of negative and fatal health outcomes including lung disease, heart disease and cancer. It is one of the easiest ways to cut your life short. What’s especially challenging is that cigarettes are addictive, making it very difficult to stop once you’ve started smoking. Many physicians have resources to help you quit, including prescription-strength medication that can make the process of quitting easier. But you are capable of quitting on your own! The CDC has free resources to help anyone who is currently a smoker kick this bad habit.
For many people, a smoke break serves as a much-needed time to cool down and de-stress, which is something we all need! A good habit to replace a cigarette break is taking time to breath and meditate. It’s really easy and can do wonders for your emotional fitness. Here’s a simple breathing exercise you can try.
- Set a one minute timer.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a slow breath in through your nose as you count to six.
- Hold your breath as you count to four.
- Slowly breath out your mouth as you count to six.
- Repeat this until your timer runs out.
Consuming excess sugar.
Sweets are delicious, but in excess they can be bad for our bodies. If you have a sweet tooth, you’re like a lot of Americans! On average, we consume nearly 57 pounds of added sugar per year. This can impact our body’s natural processes, contributing to weight gain and other negative physical side effects. And like cigarettes, sugar is addictive, meaning reducing your intake might be more challenging than you think.
Experts agree – some added sugar is OK. But how do you determine how much is too much? And how can you cut back in meaningful ways?
A great habit to pick up is reading food labels! We associate sugar with cakes, cookies and other desserts. But everyday items (even some we consider healthy) like granola bars, salad dressings and marinades contain more sugar than we realize. Becoming aware of which products contain hidden sugars and which don’t can help you cut back more easily.
Another way to reduce your sugar intake is to reserve desserts for special occasions. When you have a slice of cake at your daughter’s birthday party, or a piece of grandmother’s pie on the Fourth of July, you’re enjoying life! Eat that dessert without guilt. But reserve those treats for occasions that warrant celebration.
Staying up late.
We’ve all had to stay up to get things done for work or around the house. But making a habit of choosing activities – fun or productive – over sleep can negatively affect our health. Skipping sleep can hurt your body from head to toe, so it’s important that you find a good bedtime routine as part of your 2022 resolutions. Falling asleep and staying asleep isn’t easy for everyone. We encourage you to talk with a physician, like those at the Wellness and Stress Clinic, about your sleep troubles to determine if there is something deeper keeping you up at night!
Spending too much time on the couch.
After a long day at work, a few hours spent on the couch can be just what the doctor ordered. But our bodies need movement as much as they need rest. If you find yourself spending most of your time seated, it’s time to make changes that can benefit your body!
This might be one of the easiest habits to kick because the solution is simple. All you need to do is prioritize 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise per day. That could be time spent walking the dog, biking your neighborhood, or strolling with a friend. All you’re looking to do is move your body and get your heart rate up a little bit. Adding strength training and more intense cardio can have additional benefits, but talk with your doctor before you begin a strenuous fitness routine.