The New Year is a time where many of us reflect on the previous year and set intentions for drastic change. Often these intentions are for reasons that are not powerful enough to follow through with the dedication and commitment it takes to manifest real change.
It is in our nature to want to improve ourselves and strive to be healthier or more successful. At the seed of all of our intentions is the desire to be happy. Whether your goal is to lose a few pounds to fit into your skinny jeans or to reduce stress and increase energy, accepting your body both physically and emotionally is the first step towards greater fulfillment.
Below are five simple tips for a healthier and happier you:
1. Get more sleep (min 7-8 hours). Sleep is the period of time where your body can heal itself. There are many benefits to getting a good night's sleep, including stress release, cardiovascular health, improved memory, mood and your immunity. If you constantly need an alarm clock to wake up, you are not getting enough sleep. Get to bed early.
2. Meditate daily. Even if it's just for a few minutes each day, take time to unplug and be still. We live in a society that does not encourage a balanced lifestyle of work, family, friends and relaxation. Having a regular meditation practice will help you remain centered during life's challenges. We may not be able to control our outer environment but we do have the ability to control our reactions.
3. Buy a Vitamix. We all need more veggies in our diet and the Vitamix is perfect for making delicious, smooth veggie drinks. Try blending organic spinach, mint, ginger, lemon, water and pineapple juice. Your kids may even drink it!
4. Exercise daily. Make conscious choices to walk more or take a yoga class a couple times a week.
5. Unplug from electronics. (i.e. TV, cell phone, computer, Ipad, etc.) We have become a society addicted to external stimuli. Go out to dinner and leave your phone at home or dedicate one day a week where you and your family unplug from the electronic world collectively. If you're feeling adventurous, sign up for a yoga retreat or a silent retreat and take that opportunity to be fully present. Turn off your phone, set the auto-response on your e-mail and practice detaching yourself from what is going on back at home or at work and your social networks.
The only thing you read lately is your email and you want to get back into the habit of reading more books. Decide what number of books you can realistically aim to read—one a month perhaps, and make that your resolution. Check out the bestseller's lists online or pop into your favourite bookstore or library to see what catches your eye and pick up a couple of books while you’re there (or jot down some of the book titles so you have an ongoing list of titles to choose from). Ask your bookworm friends for their book recommendations, or better yet, join or organize a book club so you have a regular meeting to attend, making it more likely you'll make sure to fit reading time into your schedule. If you plan to read during your commute, invest in an e-reader to make it easier for you to enjoy a chapter or two while in transit.
Figure out what your particular goal is, whether it's to lose a certain number of pounds or to fit into a certain size, for example. Then create a feasible fitness and diet regimen. For your exercise plan, research workouts that have piqued your interest: check out the CrossFit gym in your neighbourhood, talk to friends who can't get enough of hot yoga and pop into your local dance studio to pick up some information. Make sure to consider what fits with your budget and schedule. Find out if any of your friends are also aiming to get into shape in the new year and ask them to partner up—a buddy system for working out can be a fantastic motivator. As for your diet, look into what weight-loss program appeals to you most and get referrals for a nutritionist. If you know you need to get more veggies into your diet, register for a weekly organic veggie delivery so you always have a fridge full of fresh produce. Also, pick up a healthy cookbook or two (or discover a food blog with recipes that entice you) so you always have tasty new dishes to try out in the kitchen.
Your debt is a huge weight on your shoulders and it's stressing you out and you want to make this year the one you dig yourself out of the hole. Set aside some time for number crunching and figure out how much you can pay off each month in the new year. Take a careful look at how you're spending your monthly net income and see where you can cut back, and look into how you can earn more money that can go straight into getting you out of the red. Pull out your credit card statements and call each company to negotiate a better interest rate, then transfer balances to your lowest interest rate cards (or apply for a line of credit with a lower interest rate and pay off your credit cards with that). Use a notebook or app (such as iReconcile) to help you keep track of where your money is going on a regular basis.
Check what reasonable amount of time you can each carve out of your calendar for fun family time each week or month. Then make a regular date you can all commit to so that it's less likely you will cancel or back out and put it into your calendar. Research online for activities to participate in—a night out ice skating, exhibitions at art galleries, concerts coming to your city or some new board games or DVDs to enjoy a home together. Take turns at who plans the day's activity so that the responsibility is shared (plus the element of surprise can make family time more fun!).
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