Okay, we are officially 1 month into 2021! Have you made a list of all the healthy changes you want to make this year? More importantly, have you figured out a plan to make your new changes?
The #1 reason New Year’s Resolutions fail is due to a lack of planning.
The best way to effect healthy changes in your life is to make them a habit. I’m sure you have a few healthy habits already: brushing your teeth twice a day, daily movement, maybe even meditation. You can use these established habits to expand your daily wellness routine with habit stacking.
Habit stacking is when you implement a new habit immediately after an established habit. For example, if you want to do 10 minutes of morning stretching, do it immediately after brushing your teeth. This will help you remember to do it every morning until it becomes a habit of its own!
3 Habits to adopt this year:
1. Drink more water
Studies show that a decrease of less than 2% of hydration has measurable effects on lowering concentration, degrading mood, and increasing perception of task difficulty1. This means if you drink 2% less water than what is normal, you will be in a worse mood, have more trouble concentrating, and see the tasks you have to do as more difficult! This illustrates how important drinking enough water is to your day. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150lbs, drink at least 75oz of water daily.
To increase your hydration habits, keep a glass of water next to you while you work. Set a timer to get up and walk around during the last 5 minutes of every hour. Fill up your glass during this walk. If your glass is not empty when the timer goes off, finish the water in the glass before refilling.
2. Set a regular sleep schedule
Our rest time is so important! During sleep, your body rests and repairs, your sympathetic nervous system relaxes (lowering your cortisol levels), your immune system activates, and your brain processes and sorts the day’s events. Establishing a regular sleep schedule will allow your body to predict when to rest and gives it time to adapt to the schedule so you are making the most of your rest time. You will also improve your circadian rhythm by sleeping and waking at the same time every day. By implementing this habit, you will improve immunity, energy, and brain function.
Set a sleep reminder and a wake up alarm for the same time every day. Following these timers will get you in the habit. If you normally have trouble falling asleep right away, read a book before you plan to fall asleep so your body gets a break from the harsh screen light that disrupts our sleep (and you aren’t tempted to watch just one more episode!)
3. Gratitude journal
Writing a daily gratitude journal will help you shift your focus to the positive things that happen or things you have in abundance now, regardless of how bad of a day you have. This will improve your mood and reduce anxiety levels. Our brains are wired to remember the bad, so that we are less likely to forget and repeat a mistake. By reminding yourself of the good, your anxiety levels will be lowered, your mind will be more clear, and you’ll get better sleep!
After brushing your teeth at night, spend 3-5 minutes writing a list of things you are grateful for in a journal. Your brain will reflect on these while you sleep, committing more positive events to memory.
(1)Armstrong, L. E., Ganio, M. S., Casa, D. J., Lee, E. C., McDermott, B. P., Klau, J. F., Jimenez, L., Le Bellego, L., Chevillotte, E., & Lieberman, H. R. (2012). Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. The Journal of nutrition, 142(2), 382–388. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.111.142000