Simple habits to improve your wellness in 2022 and beyond
Can you imagine a life where you are full of energy, live pain-free, and feel connected to yourself? It’s possible. And you deserve it.
As a naturopathic doctor with decades of experience in lifestyle medicine, I have noticed that the most powerful way to affect our overall health is by making effective choices in our day-to-day life. The key is taking a holistic approach and making small changes to your habits. If this sounds overwhelming, let’s make it simple.
How habits work
Habits are actions you perform frequently. Over time, you don’t have to think about them. You do them automatically because they become part of your subconscious mind. Habits have 3 parts:
- Cue: a trigger that initiates action
- Routine: the action you do
- Reward: your benefit from doing the action
For example, one habit that we’ve all developed is brushing our teeth. Bad breath or bedtime cues us to perform the action. The reward is our mouths feeling minty fresh!
To create a new habit, identify a cue, routine, and reward. Then repeat action daily for about a month. For example, if you want to start doing yoga every day, place a yoga mat next to your bed. You’ll feel rewarded by the relaxation you feel in your body. Soon, you’ll want to do yoga every day. It won’t feel like hard work anymore.
Which habits matter?
A holistic approach to your habits and lifestyle will have the biggest impact. I recommend focusing on your sleep, stress, nutrition, movement, and mindset.
Read on to see why each of these pillars matters, and how you can make small improvements to each. Over time, you’ll see big results!
Sleep is is the most important component in achieving all health goals. So many of us begin, re-start or feel frustrated with the lack of success on our health journey because we bypass this crucial component of health. Studies are now confirming that without restorative sleep, you will be in a constant state of deficiency, caloric intake is higher with more sugar and salt cravings, body repair and detoxification is impacted and ideal health is impossible to achieve even with the perfect diet and exercise program.
Here’s how to change your habits to improve your sleep today:
- Go to bed at the same time each night
- Keep your phone out of your bedroom
- Reduce screen time 1-hour before bed
Managing stress is the second foundation in achieving ultimate health. Most of us spend much of day in a fight, flight or freeze response which in turn influences every aspect of our health. With the body in a constant state of cortisol overload, it is virtually impossible to optimize health even with a whole food diet and a consistent exercise program. During this phase of recovery, sleep plays a crucial role in supporting our stress response and the focus on food and exercise become the medicine to support our body in managing stress.
Here’s how to change your habits to better manage your stress today:
- Reduce your interactions with takers and negative people. If you can, block them entirely.
- Reduce stimulants such as coffee and sugar that increase low-level stress all day.
- Turn off work notifications in the evenings. That expense report can wait.
With improved quality and quantity of sleep as well as a new relationship with stress established, you can then fully receive all the benefits from an individualized nutrition program. At this point, discussion about elimination diets, detoxification programs, intermittent fasting etc is relevant, not before this point. Your ideal program based on individual needs can now be clearly identified and your efforts from our commitment fully realized.
Here’s how to update your nutrition habits for big impact:
- Eat small, nutrient-balanced meals every 3-4 hours. Balanced meals include lots of protein, fats, fruits and vegetables. They can also include carbs and sweets (in moderation).
- Replace soda with sparkling water. All of the fizz, none of the empty calories.
- Consult a healthcare professional such as a naturopathic doctor to determine if you need any vitamins or supplements. Kardish stocks a wide range!
High-intensity workouts and long-distance running programs yield incredible benefits but only with the other pillars balanced. Pushing the body before often results in further health declines and possible injury. With sleep improvements, stress supports in place and your individualized nutrition requirements intact your ideal exercise program will reveal itself.
Here are 3 easy habits to start moving more in 2022:
- Take a 10-minute walk break every day.
- Stretch when you get out of bed.
- Park your car at the back of the lot.
Often underestimated about its impact on our physical body, our beliefs and thoughts can absolutely influence our physiology. When the mind is caught in negative thinking and a trance of obsessive thoughts, we are producing internal stressors that will compromise our health. Our beliefs, create our thoughts and our thoughts influence our choices. Therefore, implementing supportive lifestyle choices and a solid pillar of health requires self-awareness and clarity of mind.
Improve your mindset today by implementing one of these 3 habits for a month:
- Think of one thing you are grateful for each night. Say it out loud or write it down.
- Meditate for just 1 minute a day. Over time, increase to 5 or 10 minutes.
- Try a breathing exercise, such as a belly breathing or a box breath—inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4 and hold for 4.