15 Tips for a Healthier You in the New Year

stay fit girl at gymKick off the New Year with a pledge to get healthier, more fit, and happier! We have 15 tips to start you on your way. 

1. Stretch Like A Cat 
A few stretching exercises when you wake up will boost blood circulation, ease back pain, and give you a greater range of motion. Think like a cat, choosing stretches to get your spine twisting and extending. Hold each position for 45 seconds. Challenge yourself to do these stretches for 30 days straight, and soon they will be a part of your morning routine. 

2. Eat Healthfully 
Studies show that substituting natural foods for processed ones will bring you multiple health benefits. Healthy eating is a way to feel great, increase energy levels, and stabilize moods. To set yourself for success, start out by making small changes to your diet, adding new items and eliminating processed food one at a time. 

3. Taste the Rainbow 
Bright colored fruits and vegetables are high in anti-oxidants that give a boost to your health by removing free radicals that damage your cells. These nutrition-rich super foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber while being low in calories. Make a habit to eat a veggie or fruit at every meal. Pick up a new-to-you fruit or veggie the next time you shop to add variety and keep eating interesting. 

4. Protect Yourself From The Sun 
It’s important to wear sunscreen at all times to protect you from excessive sun exposure even in winter months. Choose a UVA/UVB protection, water–resistant sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater. Apply a thick coat at least 15-30 minutes before heading out in the sun.  

5. Make Social Connections 
Surround yourself with good company who support and enrich your life, as doing so may very well make you a happier person. There’s no question that the quality of your personal relationships has a great effect on your wellbeing.  

6. Breathe Through Stressful Situations 
Many people do not realize just how important deep breathing is to your overall wellbeing. As you feel stress coming on, step away from the situation for just a minute or so to take a couple of deep breathes. Doing so will help expel stress from your body and can be the most detoxifying thing you can do to work through the situation. 

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7. Choose Your Snacks Wisely 
Tide yourself over between meals with healthier snacks. Good choices include raw nuts, fresh fruits, carrot sticks, and whole-wheat pretzels. As an added benefit, not being ravenous at the next meal might make it easier to eat slowly and not overeat. 

8. Laugh More 
Hearty laughter is not only fun, but it’s also a powerful tool. Studies show that a big belly laugh can have positive effects on your health. These include: easing stress, strengthening your immune system, and lowering your blood pressure. Sharing a laugh brings people together and gives you an instant boost to your happiness.  

9. Build Downtime into Your Schedule 
When planning your week, make it a priority to schedule in time for doing your favorite activities and spending time with friends and family. Adding quality time activities with the people who care most about will help your recharge. 

10. Get Moving 
Research continues to shown that daily exercise brings tremendous benefits to your health including lowering the risk for several diseases, helping with weight loss, and adding to your life span. Choose exercises you enjoy, but change up the routine to keep it interesting. The more active you are, the better you will feel and the healthier you will be.  

11. Unplug Once a Week 
Technology is an incredible tool that, for better or for worse, will forever be a part of our lives. On the downside, many have become obsessed with constantly checking in on social media sites, playing games, or endless hours surfing. Completely unplugging once a week for a screen free day will open up that time to spend doing something just for you or with an actual person. 

12. Volunteer 
It’s no secret that your happiness increases when you help others. So, why not volunteer for a cause that you care about? There are many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world. 

13. Bond with Furry Ones 
Studies have shown pet owners have lower blood pressure, are less likely to be depressed and have a higher self-esteem that people who don’t have pets. The experts aren’t sure exactly why, but there’s no question that it’s true. So curl up with your cat or dog to improve your health outlook. 

14. Get Adequate Sleep 
You can’t overestimate the value of sleep. For adults, sleeping at least seven hours a night is what you need to regenerate your body and stabilize energy levels. Children need even more. Among the many benefits from sleep, it helps you live longer, lowers stress, and sharpens memory. 

15. Be Present 
You can’t change the past and worrying about the future is futile. The present moment is all you have. Embrace it, and enjoy it! The here and now is the only place to be, in fact it’s the only place you can be. 

Best of luck this New Year as you transform into a new, healthier YOU!

Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mom of two daughters.