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7 healthy habits for the New Year

7 healthy habits for the New Year

and the secrets to making them stick

It’s the New Year – get ready for a new you!

The most common New Year’s resolution is to get healthier. And the New Year is a perfect time to make changes, and plan for a brighter future. So, why do only 12% of people achieve their New Year’s goals?1

The secret to developing a healthy habit lies in implementing small steps that are positive, specific, and achievable. Instead of setting another goal, here are 7 healthy New Year’s habits and the secrets to achieving them beyond January 2nd:

1. Start your day with a tall glass of water.

You’re already dehydrated when you wake up in the morning, so drinking water, broth, or herbal tea will help energize you, improve your complexion, and help regulate your blood pressure. An easy way to remember if you’re getting enough water is to drink half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you should drink at least 75 ounces each day.

Make it easier by keeping water by your bedside as a reminder. Set a daily alert or app and sip water from a reusable bottle throughout the day. Click here to see more ways to increase your water and healthy liquid intake.

2. Walk for 10 minutes at a time.
‘Exercise more’ is at the top of most New Year’s resolutions lists. But it can be difficult or overwhelming to know the best way to begin. Start small if you need to since every little bit of movement adds up. Just 2 hours of exercise per week can improve your heart health, lung capacity, blood pressure, and weight.
Make it easier by walking for 10 minutes each day. Go longer if you feel like it but commit to those 10 minutes to establish the habit. Gradually add minutes, distance, or more 10-minute walks into your day.

SECRET TO SUCCESS:

View your health like it’s your savings account. Every little bit you put in builds up. Like compounding interest in your account, cardiovascular endurance, strength, and small habits build upon themselves when you’re consistent. Even if you only put in 10 minutes a day right now, you’ll be healthier by the time next New Year rolls around than if you did zero minutes of exercise for the next 365 days. So, start where you can and build from there.

3. Take a day off to take care of your mental health.
Making your health a priority can be challenging when you’re busy or taking care of others. The pandemic continues to add stress for all of us, which affects home, work, and school. Many people find it difficult to take a “sick day” to care for their mental health through it all. Here’s why.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by job stress, life changes, or family responsibilities, get the support you need from an MDLIVE licensed therapist. You can speak with someone from the privacy and comfort of home and have your appointment in a week or less compared to the weeks or months it takes to schedule an in-person visit.

4. Swap one takeout meal for a homecooked one.
It’s easier to grab takeout when you’re busy and tired. But it’s never as healthy as fresh meals made at home.2 People who cook meals at home can control the ingredients – and calories – in each meal, and they also have improved health, lower weight, better sleep, and higher energy levels.
If you’re short on time, try chopping vegetables or meal-prepping on the weekends and freezing meals to eat throughout the week. Or swap one takeout meal with a healthy, homecooked meal each day or once a week. Look for ideas on making healthy food swaps here.

SECRET TO SUCCESS:

When you start any new habit to improve your health, do you think about how it would make you feel to reach your goal? A habit is easier to form when genuine, positive feelings are attached to it. Envisioning the happiness, gratitude, or pride you’ll feel when you create and stick to a healthy habit can help drive your motivation and keep you on track.

5. Make a doctor appointment, even if you think you’re fine
Regular doctor visits keep you healthier. Visit your doctor for wellness screenings and routine care, which can spot potential health problems before they become more serious and costly.

For more urgent needs like colds, flu, rashes, or pink eye, make it easy to get fast care by downloading the MDLIVE app and creating a free account. Talk to a doctor in 15 minutes or less for more than 80 common conditions.

6. Wash your drinking cup and coffee mug every day.
Replacing or cleaning those items you use every day helps prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. In particular, anything that stays wet, including shower towels, toothbrushes, and water cups, may have more germs than you realize.

Keep items clean by hanging your shower towels so they are spread out – not folded or hanging from a hook – to completely dry after each use. Replace after 2-3 uses. If you’ve been sick, quarantine your toothbrush so it doesn’t spread germs to other toothbrushes nearby, and replace it afterward. Also helps to disinfect it regularly with an antiseptic mouthwash. Wash and completely dry your cup and mug daily, even if you’re not sick and only drink water.

SECRET TO SUCCESS:

People who write down the habits they want to create in specific, positive terms are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them.3 Set yourself up to win by writing down the habit you want to create and reviewing it every day. Like each of the 7 health habits listed here, make it specific. ‘Exercise more,’ for example, is too vague. But writing ‘I will walk 1 mile in the morning to feel better and more energetic during the day.’ is more specific and helps your brain look for ways to form the habit. Framing habits in positive terms can also motivate you to succeed.

7. Go to bed at the same time every night.
Sleep experts say high-quality sleep is as “important to your health and well-being as nutrition and exercise.”4 Most adults need 7 hours of quality sleep each night to perform at their best, fight off infections, have better heart health, and weigh less.

To create a healthy sleep routine and reset your schedule, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Make your bedroom as dark as possible and unplug from your phone or electronics a few hours before bedtime. Some studies show that blue light from these devices suppresses melatonin production and interferes with your sleep.5

Working on one habit at a time will help you achieve more than focusing on too many. Visualizing yourself achieving a healthy lifestyle while feeling happy, proud, or thankful will help you create these 7 New Year’s healthy habits or any goal you set for yourself.

If you haven’t already, make it easy to get fast care by downloading the MDLIVE app so you’ll always have a doctor on standby for urgent care needs. Talk to a doctor in 15 minutes or less for more than 80 common conditions.

Bryan Gutierrez