TOP TEN HEALTHY HABITS FOR WELLNESS FOR NEW YEAR & BEYOND

TOP TEN HEALTHY HABITS FOR WELLNESS

Many times we reach the holidays in a reflective mood: What went right or wrong in the past year? What can we change for the better in the new year? Sometimes we reach December making a lot of goals for January and even though this our habit year after year, studies show that by March most of us have abandoned these goals, left feeling like a failure.  

Experts suggest that this happens because these goals are often unrealistic (exercise every single day) or too restrictive (absolutely no sugar) for most of us. How about this year we set ourselves up for success by adopting healthy habits to promote wellness as the overarching goal by incorporating these 10 action steps into daily life 80% of the time. Keep in mind, the goal is progress NOT perfection. Whether your goal is to improve your general health, prepare for or rehab after pregnancy, or improve a current medical issue, these steps are sure to help.

1. SLEEP: research is constantly telling us that sleep is important for a plethora of health parameters including weight loss, psychological wellness, stress, so try for 8 hours per night and try to set a regular sleep schedule 80% of the time.  Adopt healthy sleep hygiene habits (https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html) and if you are still having problems, try acupuncture and recommended supplements from ilumina practitioners.

2. WATER: I know you’ve heard this, but it really makes a difference. Dehydration affects headaches, skin tone & clarity, energy, hunger. Don’t track ounces, just start the day with a big glass and throughout the day drink more water than wine, caffeine, and juice.

3. MOVE:yoga, dance, walk the dogs, zumba, swim, bike along the canal, run or hike on a trail…It doesn’t matter what it is, just find something you like and do it for at least 30 minutes on most days…if you are still enjoying yourself, keep going. If you don’t even feel like starting, try 15 minutes and I bet you keep going.  Add little extras along the way like pushups, squats and light weights during commercials. We here at ilumina practice what we preach in terms of staying active and are happy to help you get started too.

4. EAT TO LIVE: unless you have specific dietary issues, research has consistently pointed to the Mediterranean diet (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan#foods-to-eat) as a way to achieve & maintain a healthy weight, prevent & treat diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, & certain cancers. Maybe you feel better eating paleo or vegetarian, that’s great too, just give yourself some slack and remember the 80/20 rule which will allow you to have fun and enjoy a variety of foods with family and friends.  There is no one diet that is perfect for everyone, find the plan that works for you and try to consume foods that add to your health (whole grans, fruits & veggies, organic meats) and limit those that likely increase disease (sugar & refined carbohydrates, alcohol).

5. BE QUIET: Research has shown that meditation can actually change brain function over time and impact our thinking & mood now as well as risks for several chronic diseases in the long term. There are several apps (meditation timer, calm) that can help you meditate or just try to sit quietly while waiting at a stop light or in line at the store, journal  3-5 things you are grateful for at the end of each day, take time to be thankful for what you have and what you DON’T have. Whatever form it takes, just pick one and try to practice most days of the week. We at ilumina all have our own ways of meditation so ask and we can guide you to something that will work for you.

6. SOCIALIZE:  Not just during the holidays or special occasions, but informally as well. Meet a friend to go for a hike or a pedicure, walk the dogs with a neighbor, talk to another parent at your child’s sporting event or the person on the mat next to you in yoga. These connections help improve mood and research shows that social connections as we age help predict mental & physical health.

7. GO OUTSIDE:  We are blessed with at least 8 months of near perfect weather…get out there! Walk or ride your bike to the gym, work, during lunch or on errands; hike on one of our amazing trails; read a book at the park; go to the Desert Botanical Gardens in the morning & take some photographs. Whatever it is, find a way to get outside, you will feel better! 

8. HELP OTHERS:  Volunteer for your favorite non-profit or your religious organization, befriend an elderly neighbor & offer to take their garbage cans out & in, offer to help a new mom or sick friend with meals & chores, send a relative a card for no reason.  We help ourselves by helping others and in that way strengthen our whole community. And not just during the holidays, try do offer assistance on at last a monthly basis throughout the year. 

9. GROW SOMETHING:Again, our wonderful climate allows for gardening fruits, veggies, and herbs nearly year-round. Don’t know where to start, check out your local nursery for classes. This is a great way to get outside, get your hands in the dirt, connect to nature, and produce food for your family & friends.  Even if you only have a small patio, tomatoes, onions, peppers, greens & herbs do very well in those environments.  Some neighborhoods even allow chickens…how nice are fresh eggs? Find something you like to eat and try to grow this year…you might save yourself some trips to the market.

10. DON’T “SHOULD” ON YOURSELF:Many of us go throughout our day being kind to those we meet all the while not being kind to ourselves.  Negative self-talk runs through our minds reminding us of all the things we didn’t do right, should’ve done better, or forgot to do all together.  There have been many studies recently advocating self-compassion to decrease stress and improve psychological and physical well-being. Take some time to remind yourself of what you’ve done right, maybe during a walk, in meditation, or via journaling.  Find a way to be kind to yourself, but if the negative self-talk extends to dark moods or anxiety, then talk to us here at ilumina and we can refer you to a counselor who can provide more guidance.

leigh Lewis