New Years and resolutions go together like Ashton and Demi or Chris and Gwyneth... They start out strong, but tend to fizzle as the months wear on.
This year, rather than setting my sites on one insurmountable goal - I opted to encourage 5 healthy habits that I already dabble in, and feel strongly support a productive daily life. These 5 basic pillars are totally attainable, and will offer fuel and structure to tackle whatever 2015 throws at you!
1. Warm Water Wake Up: Want better digestion? Speedier metabolism? Reduced signs of aging? Try starting each day with a large cup of warm water, a couple of dashes of cayenne and the squeeze of 1/2 a lemon. This simple routine breaks down waste and flushes toxins that can lead to premature aging. It awakens the gut to better digest your breakfast, while giving you a moment to take in the morning.
2. Set a Sleep Routine: Whether you're a night owl or a morning person, need 9 hours or 4, everyone can benefit from a regular sleep cycle. By getting in the habit of sleeping and waking around the same time each day, you are less likely to suffer from insomnia, and more likely to be productive during your waking hours. If you have trouble falling asleep, try breathing deeply, with twice as long spent on the exhale than the inhale. I.e- 6 seconds out, 3 seconds in can set your breath to sleep mode.
To help figure out your optimal sleep routine try using an app like Sleep Cycle, which tracks your most restful hours and wakes you at the most optimal moment. Once you find out what works for you, stick to it.
3. Start Reading Food Labels: If you're reading this blog, chances are that you are already pretty aware of what goes into your body. However, often so called "healthy" food items can stealthily harbor all kinds of icky preservatives, emulsifiers and things that humans shouldn't eat. And if it comes in a package, it's already a big step behind whole, unprocessed foods.
As a general rule - try to minimize packaged foods. For those that you do buy, look for short ingredient lists and make sure that you recognize and can pronounce everything in there.
4. Bookend Each Day with a Smile: Take a moment every morning, maybe before you even open your eyes or as you sip your hot water, and take stock of anything you have to be thankful for at the moment. It could be something as major as the health of you and your family, or as small as a sunny day or a good night's sleep. Even if you wake up to crap weather, a day of jury duty or physical or emotional pain, visualizing the positives in your life will help give you strength to tackle the day. I recently learned about Lucent, an app for those who need a little help easing into this idea. I've yet to try it myself, so if you do - I'd love to know what you think!
Doing the same practice before bed, but by reflecting on 1-3 things that went well that day, will help put your mind at ease for a good night's rest.
5. Reward Yourself: There is no faster way to feel frustrated than by focusing on failures, without recognizing what's going well. Even if you're behind on some major goals, taking note of the steps along the way and checking them off as they're completed will help you stay motivated. I find that nothing beats a handwritten list next to my computer for jotting down and crossing off my "to do's", but apps like Any.do and Task are awesome ways to stay organized.
Checking items off as you go is satisfying in and of itself. But when you tackle something that you have been procrastinating, or accomplish a little victory - take a moment to reward yourself. It could be as simple as taking a moment to recognize what you've done, perhaps saying it out loud or to a friend. Take a healthy snack or tea break, or indulge in some good dark chocolate at the end of a long day.
For more ways to tackle time management and take a little time for your self this year, check out SELF Magazine's 21 Day Time Makeover. Start with this helpful quiz to help you identify your biggest time sucks and how to fix them.
Happy New Year!