New Year, New Habits

By, Roxy Simons for SocialWorkGuide

 

There is never a wrong time to reinvent yourself, but New Year’s always feels like the perfect occasion for a fresh start. 2016 was a challenging year for many, but that’s no reason to start the new year on the wrong foot. Now is the time to start practicing healthier habits to ensure 2017 is your best year yet.

Write It Down

Life can often feel hectic, as if there aren’t enough hours in a day to accomplish everything necessary to make it to tomorrow. This feeling is even more amplified if you’re a student balancing class, homework, a job, and extracurricular activities. Keep your days organized by investing in a calendar or planner. Set realistic goals for each day, each week, and each month and, most importantly, write them down. A 2014 study showed that you are 42 percent more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down. So whether you want to eat healthier, learn a new skill, or just finish all your homework on time, document your goal by putting pencil to paper. Writing down each day’s tasks will help you feel less overwhelmed by all the goals you need to accomplish by the end of the semester.

Unplug

Social media plays an important role in our lives. We use it to stay informed on current events, keep in touch with family and friends, and block out responsibilities for a moment to enjoy a silly picture or funny video. However, an APA survey revealed that 38 percent of adults say political and cultural discussion on social media causes them stress. If your social media accounts are taking a toll on your mental health, step away from these platforms for a few weeks. Find other activities to fill your time: learn a new language, engage in challenging physical activities like rock climbing or kickboxing, or have dinner with a long lost friend.

Put Your Health First

Before you can accomplish anything, you must first take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Start the new year with a new food plan. Cut out those excess fats and sugars and replace them with fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating well starts with smart grocery shopping, so don’t be tempted by the candy or chip aisle. Make a list of the healthy foods you want to buy and stick to it. The less junk you have in your home, the less you will consume.

Along with healthy eating, finding time to work out can be a challenge. If you’re unable to schedule a full 30 minutes of heart-rate-raising exercise three times a week, cheat your way into an exercise routine. Walk or bike to class, take the stairs more often, and sneak in a couple of push-ups  between appointments. Manage your stress levels through exercise, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, massage, therapy, medication, or any other safe, healthy strategy that feels right to you. If you don’t take care of your physical and mental health, none of your other goals will be possible.