Small changes add up to big results. By incorporating simple habits into your life, you can kickstart your wellness journey and stay on track for the long run.
Setting healthy, realistic goals
Use the SMART goal-setting system to help define your goal and develop attainable resolutions.
- Specific—Be clear about exactly what you want to accomplish. Include as many details as necessary, such as potential obstacles or extra requirements.
- Measurable—Measure your progress and determine how to meet the goal. If you have a big goal, you may need to set smaller milestones to stay on track.
- Achievable—Attainability is an important factor to consider when it comes to goal setting. “While behavior change comes with any resolution, it is unfair to yourself if you set a goal that is not feasible,” said Dr. Rebecca Gomez, Wellstar clinical health psychologist and Clinician Resiliency & Well-Being Program lead.
- Relevant—Align your resolutions with your overall life goals and think about what you hope to accomplish by reaching that goal.
- Time bound—Set a realistic, target deadline to reach your goal with checkpoints at intervals along the way. Markers provide an opportunity to measure progress and reassess any changes needed to stay on track.
Keep in mind, you may encounter some bumps in the road along the way. Recognizing all the small accomplishments can help you stay motivated and win in the long run.
“Focus on what small steps you’ve accomplished rather than how far you have to go,” Dr. Gomez shared. “Also, have a resiliency plan to help you bounce back after a more challenging day.”
Build new habits into your regular routine by beginning small and adding on over time. With this “habit stacking” technique, you pair your new habit with something you’re already doing. For example, if your goal is to drink more water, drink a glass of water while making your morning coffee or tea.
Schedule a wellness exam
Seeing your primary care provider at least once a year is the single most important thing you can do for your health.
At your annual exam, your physician will help keep you healthy and reach your wellness goals. They screen for diseases to stay ahead of medical issues and check in on your overall well-being.
Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to prompt you to book an appointment. You can also use an important date, such as your birthday, anniversary or a holiday, as a marker to remind you to schedule a visit.
Get moving to stay well
If you’re focused on improving your fitness routine, put a plan in place to be more active.
“Begin to incorporate a little more exercise into your daily routine,” said Wellstar Primary Care Physician Dr. Jeremy Boyd. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a suggestion of 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week. I like to break that down to a good 40 minutes four times a week.”
Set a sleep routine
Having a bedtime routine is essential to catch more Zs throughout the year. When you wake up feeling rested, you often feel more productive and energized throughout the day.
Get started by setting a specific time to go to sleep—and stick to it. Make sure you reserve at least seven to nine hours per night for sleep.
Limit your screen time before getting in bed. Bright screens from a phone, computer or TV can keep your brain awake and make it harder to fall asleep.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, have a decaffeinated cup of tea or take a warm bath to help you relax.
Eat a balanced diet
When it comes to losing weight, many people look for a quick fix, which can often create unhealthy ways of eating. Creating a healthy eating plan from the start can help avoid any fad diet pitfalls.
Nutrition plans that restrict or eliminate food groups and those with extreme calorie deficits are difficult to maintain and can often produce more weight gain or undesired results, according to Wellstar Registered Dietitian Kelly Prian.
Diet trends can also create a negative relationship with food, which can make it harder to achieve your goals. Prian shared that those with long-term success focus on maintaining a plan that enables steady weight loss over time.
A healthy nutrition plan is balanced and emphasizes whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low fat dairy, nuts and seeds, and whole grains.
Try not to overcomplicate healthy eating. You can start by filling half your plate with vegetables or having fun trying new recipes.
Take care of your mental health
Self-care is an important aspect of your mental well-being and should be made a consistent part of each day.
“Make self-care a priority and a non-negotiable,” Dr. Gomez said.
“Think of self-care as a form of personal healing and a way to strengthen resilience,” Dr. Gomez explained. “Much like the way exercise enhances physical health, self-care enhances mental health.”
According to Dr. Gomez, it can be helpful to turn tasks we do on “autopilot” into more meaningful experiences.
“When washing your hands, give yourself a hand massage,” Dr. Gomez shared. “When driving, use red lights to practice deep breathing. Listen to a book on tape or language lessons rather than the radio or call someone to reconnect.”
If you feel overwhelmed by stress or anxiety, Wellstar behavioral health specialists are here for you.
“Working with a mental health provider is different than speaking with a friend or even a life coach,” Dr. Gomez said. “Mental health professionals are trained and licensed to address psychological or emotional wellness.”
Need support? Connect with a Wellstar behavioral health specialist.