In the blink of an eye, another year is about to be over – and for the majority of us, 2021 has passed in more of a blur than most. But with a fresh twelve months ahead of us to set goals, make progress and achieve great things, 2022 could be set to be our healthiest year yet.
Thanks to the ongoing stresses and strains of the pandemic, bad habits have increased and our healthier ones have, in many cases, taken a backseat, so there’s no time like the present to start thinking about getting things back on track – although that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t relax and enjoy the festivities first.
Rather than overwhelming yourself with a plethora of new year’s resolutions you know you won’t stick to, 2022 is all about keeping things simple, and breaking the big goals down to make them feel more manageable. So, instead of plotting a sweeping and, frankly, unrealistic life change you have no idea how to achieve, pick one or two goals only and focus on execution over the results.
Most of us begin the year with some big goals on our minds – but vague and immeasurable aims like ‘losing weight’ or ‘working out more’ often fail because they are not specific enough. To really make progress, it’s important to break down bigger goals into manageable action steps, and to get down into the nitty gritty of exactly how you plan to achieve them.
So, instead of simply saying you’ll lose weight or get fit, map out your weekly schedule and include a calorie-controlled meal plan and a list of when and how you plan to work out. If your gym does weekly classes, write down the exact classes, times and days you plan to attend, and book them in advance to make sure you do. If you prefer to work out at home, then set a time in your diary when you know you’ll have a window, and block it out – making sure to have a session pre-planned and seeking out the relevant resources – like YouTube videos – in advance.
From quitting smoking to focusing on self care, these are four of the best ways to up-level your health in the new year, and all without the overwhelm.
Swap smoking for vaping
It’s no secret at this point that smoking cigarettes and tobacco is detrimental to our health, but if you’ve been attempting to kick the habit for several years now and still haven’t quite managed it, then it might be time to try a new tactic. While going cold turkey would be the ideal way to go, for some, it can feel overwhelming – and many find vaping to be a helpful stepping stone between the two.
Swapping your favourite cigarettes for a no nicotine disposable vape from January 1st or visiting your doctor for advice could be the first stage of your journey towards going smoke free for good, so if you’re eager to eradicate the habit permanently, then now is the time to make your plan.
Get creative in the kitchen
With today’s busy lifestyles, it can be all too easy to fall into a rut in the kitchen. But not only can cooking repetitive meals each week quickly become boring and uninspiring – it can also make you more likely to cave in to ordering takeaway or gorging on treats. A varied diet is important to balance blood sugar and ensure that you are getting all the right nutrients, so make 2022 the year you get creative in the kitchen and commit to trying out new cuisines and recipes to keep things fresh and interesting.
Treat yourself to some new cook books, or dig out the ones you already have gathering dust on your shelves, having barely ever been opened. Look for recipes that draw on international flavours or that call for ingredients you’ve never tried before, and challenge yourself to cook up at least two new dishes each week. Not only will it get you excited about cooking again, but your health will thank you for it, too.
Make time for self care
Making time for self care is more important than ever in the current global climate, but in January, we often overwhelm ourselves with new goals and challenges for the year ahead and can quickly become overwhelmed. For 2022, commit to making self care a part of your weekly routine and see how it impacts upon your productivity and success with your other aims – you might just be surprised.
Setting aside just an hour a week to walk in nature or go for a massage, or even ten minutes a day to meditate, is guaranteed to help keep you feeling calmer and more able to cope with the demands of life – which means greater focus on the other things that are important to you, too.
Reassess your relationship with alcohol
Dry January has been a running trend for some years now, with millions of people pledging to set aside the wine and put down the champagne for a month of sobriety. But while a month without alcohol is undoubtedly beneficial after a season of excess, what it won’t do is help you to build a healthier relationship with alcohol long-term – so if you’ve been drinking a little more than you’d like much amidst the ongoing stresses and strains of the pandemic, then it might be time to look a little deeper.
Take some time out to sit and think about your triggers for drinking alcohol, and you’ll likely find that things like stress, anxiety and fatigue are the catalyst for popping the cork. Instead, look for healthier ways to deal with your emotions, like exercise, meditation, or taking a warm bath – and save your favourite tipples for the occasions that matter. Not only will you enjoy and savour them all the more for it, but your body will thank you for it, too.