When we think about improving our health and wellness, “big picture” ideas often take centerstage—getting quality sleep each night, quitting smoking, or eating a healthier diet. But believe it or not, you can make a big impact on your health with small changes.
Are you one of the many Americans who makes a resolution each January? In many cases, those resolutions revolve around improving our health and wellness. For most of us, we make those resolutions in January…and then falter by early February.
Ever wondered why that is? Well, in many cases, it’s because our resolutions are too lofty and unrealistic. It’s far better to break down any goal—or resolution—into bite size actions that aren’t so difficult to implement in our lives.
When you set and achieve small goals, you’re making incremental progress toward a larger goal. And in the meantime, you have something to celebrate, as you’ve been able to achieve something on your journey.
This is definitely true when it comes to our health and wellness. While it may seem like we need to swing for the fences to see improvement, that’s simply not true. You can significantly impact your health and wellness for the better with some easy tweaks.
We have a few suggestions! Read on as we take a look.
Small Changes, Big Impact for Health and Wellness
Yes, on the whole, you should be exercising more, eating a balanced diet, not smoking, and getting plenty of sleep. But those are big goals—not actionable items. Try some of these instead:
- Think positive. This is truly something that can revolutionize your life—and your health and wellness. If you make an attempt to reframe everything in a more positive way, your health will thank you. Positivity has been shown to reduce stress, lower the risk of depression, increase life span, and even promote physical health. Now, this one does sound “big picture”-like. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about reframing your mindset in each interaction or occurrence you face. If you falter once, try again! You will not always be positive, nor should you expect to be. But you can try again next time.
- Divide your plate. Overwhelmed at the thought of trying to eat healthier? Start simple. Pick up a dinner plate. Now, mentally divide that plate into four quarters. Two of those four quarters should be filled at each meal with fruits and vegetables. One quarter should contain lean protein, like chicken, fish, or eggs, while the last quarter should contain whole grains, like brown rice or whole-grain bread. Forget worrying about how much you should have of this or that—simply consider how the foods will fit within your plate.
- Move more. If you can’t imagine fitting regular workouts into your busy life, you aren’t alone! But that doesn’t mean you can’t fit exercise in. Think about it in terms of simply moving more throughout your day. That may mean taking a lap around your office on the way to and from the bathroom, or walking up and down the stairs in your home a few times in the morning or evening. You may up the ante and take part of your lunch break for a walk around the office building or a set of squats, but even those small movements described above can have an impact.
- Take a break. This tip means exactly what it sounds like—stop and take a break from whatever you’re doing! No matter what you’re working on, whether it’s an actual work project or stepping your kids through homework, you can benefit from a break, both physically and mentally. Taking a step back will help you decompress and relax, which ultimately will help boost your productivity overall. And you’ll benefit from stress relief, which is a major win for your health and wellness.
- Put the salt away. Did you know that the average American gets more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day? That’s way more than the recommended limit of 1,500 milligrams. Most of that sodium intake comes from processed foods in our regular diet, but one easy way you can help reduce your intake is to be more thoughtful about the sodium you’re adding via the salt shaker. So take the salt shaker off the table and put it in the pantry. Use it when cooking to flavor food, but steer clear of it at the table. Try using herbs and other spices for an extra pop of flavor.
- Lift. When you think of exercise, you may only think of cardio—the heart-pumping, sweat-inducing variety of exercise. But the reality is: Your health and wellness benefit significantly when you lift…weights that is. Whether you use actual weights or your body weight, performing regular strength training activities builds muscle, improves flexibility, promotes bone health, and can make you feel better overall.
- Create a healthy snack drawer. It’s all too easy to turn to unhealthy snack options, like chips or candy, when we start to feel hungry in the middle of the afternoon at work. If your office has a vending machine, that’s just asking for trouble! So, take a little time and fill up a drawer or container in your space with healthy snacks like sugar-free applesauce, individual portions of nuts, or plain popcorn. You can also put together some perishable healthy snacks, like cheese and crackers or fruits and veggies, to store in the office fridge. Having these snacks ready to go makes it way more likely you’ll choose a healthy option.
Your first step on the journey to better health and wellness? A checkup with your doctor. Need a doctor? Find one here.