January is nearly over, and that means most of our resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Even if you didn’t make any resolutions for the new year, it’s difficult to stick to healthy habits when it’s cold and dreary out. We tend to want to stay inside, not move very much, and eat a bit too many comforting foods.
While you may be inclined to be a hermit, this is a GREAT time to focus on caring for yourself. Since it is a bit more challenging during this time of year, the ways you improve the care of yourself will be easier to stick with through the rest of the year. It’s all about creating good habits.
Habits can have immense value when it comes to taking care of yourself. When the season has you down, you don’t search for motivation, you don’t listen to your own excuses. You just do what you need to do, and move on with the rest of your day. Habits help us to maintain good health, improve our fitness, and reach our goals.
It’s best to form new habits in small, even very tiny increments. This way, they are easier to adopt and you’re more likely to stick with them through the rest of the year, and through the rest of your life. Below are some of the best ways you can take care of yourself that you can develop into healthy habits.
Plan your meals in advance, and prep ingredients as soon as you buy them. Knowing what your food plan is will eliminate the age old questions, “What do you want for dinner?” and “What can I take for lunch?” Instead, once a week, you can make the majority of your food for the next 5 days, leaving a little wiggle room for dinners out or special occasions. It’s also a great idea to do any washing, slicing, chopping, etc. of fresh ingredients as soon as you bring the groceries home. That way, there’s one less step later between you and healthy food, and there’s a much smaller chance that lettuce will turn to mush at the back of the fridge.
Choose exercise you can do at home, or in a non-gym setting. You know you need to move your body to stay healthy, but you might not like the gym, or you may not have one close to you. There are workout programs you can do at home with minimal equipment, and they cater to various levels of skill. Don’t like workout videos? No problem! Try games instead. There are a number of dance and rhythm based games that can get you moving, and you’ll forget you’re getting an actual workout. Other options are taking walks with friends, taking a class on a physical activity, or non-traditional sports like sword fighting. Keep your activities scheduled regularly in your planner so you can be consistent.
Take time for self-love. Far from the self-esteem exercises we may have gone through in school, self-love is fully accepting who you are and allowing yourself to relax and just be exactly who you are, away from judgements, stresses, and external demands. There are many ways to cultivate more self-love in your life, and it’s essential to your personal development and your overall mental health. Some people enjoy trips to the spa, and a massage is a great way to release stress and re-center yourself. Others enjoy a creative pursuit, such as painting. If you’re pressed for time, try a hot candle-let bath with calming music and a book (And yes, lots of guys enjoy this too!) Set aside time dedicated just to you, without distractions or interruptions.
Remember that you can’t take care of others particularly well if you don’t take care of yourself first. Prioritizing your own needs is important so you can fill the many roles you play for yourself and for others. Create excellent habits that will carry your physical and mental well-being to new heights throughout this new year, and you’ll see great benefits in your life.