New Year, New Habits

Good Practices For A Happy And Healthy 2022

by Todd Nelson // January - February - March 2022

How often have you made a big New Year’s resolution (“I will lose 40 pounds; go to the gym every day; quit [bad habit]”), only to fail by the second week of January? This year, instead of setting one giant goal, try establishing a few easy, good habits to crowd out the bad ones. Just a couple of new good habits can accumulate to all the things you really want, such as improved health, less stress, and more happiness. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Sleep more, sleep better. Go to bed earlier. Leave electronic devices – phones, tablets – elsewhere. Set your alarm for the time you really intend to rise and stop hitting snooze, which only trades deep sleep for a less restful variety. Also, tune into natural circadian rhythms by exposing yourself to sunlight during the day and keeping your environment dark-ish at night.

Make your bed every morning. Studies show this actually leads to more restful sleep. It also makes your bed healthier by keeping out dust and allergens, and sets a tone of productivity and accomplishment for the rest of the day.

Prep for your morning the night before. Figure out what you are going to wear. Wash, iron, and lay out clothes. Pack lunch. Anything that makes your mornings less harried and rushed will minimize the time you spend in high-adrenaline, stress mode during each day.

Make lists: Lists can help keep you on track, whether it’s the day’s errands, the grocery list, or even books you want to read.

Clean as you go. Rather than having to dedicate an entire morning to picking up around the house, just pick up as you go, instead of leaving it all until later. Fold the laundry when the dryer is done (and go ahead and put it away). Take out the trash after dinner. These easy efforts will keep small jobs from turning into one large, daunting one.

Do now. When you see something that needs doing – a light bulb or battery that needs changing, a picture that needs hanging – do it right then instead of letting it hang over you like a black cloud.

Eat the rainbow. Phytonutrients give fruits and veggies their brilliant colors. Eating the rainbow – red, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue – is an easy way to ensure you get a full range of vital nutrients into your body every day.

Move a little each hour. Walk. Stretch. Squat. Shake. Jiggle. Dance. Jump rope. Exercise with hand weights. Do anything that gets your circulatory and lymphatic systems moving.

Find one tiny way to save each day. Take the money you save by performing minor money-saving tasks like clipping coupons and put it into an account or take advantage of programs that automatically transfer “loose change” from transactions into savings or investment accounts. At year-end, you can spend it all on a luxury you really want.

Finish projects. Instead of tackling 10 tasks at a time, focus on just one or two for a set amount of time. Organize your messy garage; clean out your pantry that is full of outdated canned goods and old spices; go through your coat closet ... no matter what project you start, be mindful to complete it. Not only will you check it off your to-do list, you’ll enjoy that sense of accomplishment.

Be kind. Offer compliments. Everyone has bad days ... but don’t let your bad day ruin someone else’s. Being nice, whether to someone you know or a stranger you encounter during the day, makes you both feel better. Spread goodwill by complimenting and sharing nice words with those around you. Those words will make you feel pretty good, too.

Contrary to what you might have read, it often takes much longer than 21 days to establish a new habit. Research shows, however, that – even if you mess up periodically – perseverance will get you there in the end. You just need to start somewhere and keep going!

Todd Nelson

Owner of MaidPro of Raleigh and Wake Forest.