The trees are bare and so are bank accounts. So, naturally, it’s a little tough to think about finding the bright side to January. But despite being popularly characterized as the gloomiest of months — with the confetti settled, festivities finished, and summer still months away — January also arrives with plenty of opportunities. Why not start with leading a healthier lifestyle for both you and the planet? Whether it’s chasing fitness goals, improving dietary choices, or nurturing mental health, the next few weeks present an ideal canvas upon which to reset, renew, and prioritize long overdue changes. (Maybe they weren’t even among your New Year’s resolutions.) We’ve rounded up some simple winter health tips to help you kickstart a healthy and sustainable 2024.
Set realistic goals for yourself
Begin by brainstorming what aspects of your health you’d like to improve this year. Maybe that means reevaluating your diet, working out more often, or scheduling downtime to decompress and unwind. Once you know your focus area(s), make them more specific. For example, if you’re concentrating on a healthier diet, set a goal to include a serving of greens or fresh veggies in at least one meal a day. This is easier to manage than a vague alternative like “get healthier food.”
You can also break your goals or resolutions into smaller, manageable steps that align with your lifestyle. For example, if you want to run a certain number of miles every month, begin by keeping track and setting aside time every week. This way you don’t arrive at the end of the month with too many miles left. Plus, this will reduce the chances of feeling overwhelmed and burning out.
Detox your home
If you’re going to spend most of the month indoors, why not think about the everyday chemicals you surround yourself with — and how you can detox your home by swapping them out for natural alternatives? Instead of relying on man-made air fresheners, turn to plants, which clean air and remove pollutants naturally. And watch your plastic intake. The more plastic you have around your home, the more likely it is you’re being exposed to BPA, among other harmful toxins. In the laundry room, ditch your traditional detergent for SaltyLama’s eco-friendly laundry sheets. Because our ingredients are plant-based and hypoallergenic, they are perfect for people with allergies or sensitive skin. Plus, SaltyLama’s packaging is biodegradable and compostable, so you won’t be adding to the microplastics crisis created by single-use packaging.
Make exercise a priority
While incorporating healthier recipes into your diet can make a huge difference for your well-being, exercise will keep your body strong and your health regulated. But try not to get overwhelmed. Keep it simple. Adding exercise to your daily routine can be as easy as taking a daily walk, exploring a yoga session or two, or hitting the gym — anything to get your blood pumping. On top of that, regular exercise helps boost mood, energy levels, and mental health. Find activities you enjoy, making working out a pleasure, not a chore.
Focus on balanced nutrition in the new year
Your body needs vitamins and nutrients to flourish. Revamping your diet to include more whole foods — fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains — will benefit your body, your brain function, and overall health. Remember to always talk to a doctor or nutritionist before making any major changes. Avoid crash diets, which show few long-term benefits, and opt for a balanced, sustainable eating plan that nourishes your body and mind.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water is crucial year-round. In January, especially after the holiday season’s rich and abundant meals, staying hydrated supports digestion, improves energy levels, and aids in detoxifying the body. Most people need four to six cups of water daily for optimal health. However, this number depends on several factors, including your activity level, climate, medications, and health.
Make sleep a priority
Who doesn’t enjoy a good night’s rest? Quality sleep is key to your health. Ensure you’re getting enough rest each night — adults should aim for seven to nine hours — to support mental clarity, mood stability, and physical well-being.
Take time to manage any stress
Whether it’s stress at work or home, relieve it by practicing meditation, deep breathing, or mindfulness. Sometimes even a quiet walk in nature can reduce stress. If that doesn’t suit you in winter, visit a sauna, meditate in a relaxing space, or go outside simply for some fresh air. No matter how hectic life becomes, always set aside time to decompress. Stress is one the leading causes of heart disease, so minimizing it will help you enjoy a longer, healthier life.
Practice mindful eating habits
What you eat is important, but so is how you eat. The best way? Slow down and take your time chewing. Enjoy slow meals, savored among good company. You’ll quickly see the results as mindful eating encourages better digestion. It also allows you to appreciate your food while also preventing overeating.
Meal prep weekly
Planning your meals for the week will help you keep a routine and keep you from stopping for fast food. So, set yourself up for success by stocking up on groceries, meal prepping, and planning out what you’ll eat each week. You can keep track of your meals by using a journal or calendar. For inspiration, check out these recipes to make in January.
Be kind to yourself
Embrace progress, not perfection. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you stumble along the way. It’s only normal to make a few mistakes. Be patient and celebrate every step towards a healthier lifestyle. Health is a journey, not a destination. The small, consistent changes you make in January can set the tone for a healthier year ahead.