Does the thought of setting a big health goal or making a big change in your life seem overwhelming? Or did you set a big goal this year, but now find that you’re struggling to make progress on it?
If so, you’re not alone. For many of us, finding the time and energy needed to make a big health change seems like a daunting, if not impossible, task. And when we do start working toward a big goal, we often find that the effort is exceedingly difficult to maintain.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make big, overwhelming changes in your life, or set and achieve difficult goals, in order to live healthier and happier this year.
In fact, for many busy women, setting smaller goals or taking one positive step at a time may be the best way to make long-lasting positive changes.
If you’re struggling to make progress, or even to get started, on a health goal you wanted to achieve this year, try focusing on making little changes, one at a time. After one change becomes routine for you, make another one. Here are 8 little changes to consider. Give one of them a try, or choose a different small change that works for you:
8 Little Changes for a Healthier Life
- Cut way down on sugar. Cut out soda and other drinks with sugar, don’t add sugar to food or drinks, limit sweets, and read food labels so that you can avoid foods with lots of added sugar.
- Get up and move for at least 30 minutes every day. If getting into a regular exercise routine seems overwhelming, focus on movement rather than exercise. Simply make it a point to get up and move (walk, ride, hike, dance, etc.) for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Prioritize getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you don’t sleep well and can only work on one thing, make it this one. Get natural light in the morning, avoid bright light in the evening, set and keep a regular bedtime, limit use of screens in the evening (or use a blue light blocker), limit alcohol, and take some time to wind down at the end of the day.
- Eat 3 plant foods at every meal. Start working your way up to including at least 3 plant foods – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds – in every meal. If you eat snacks, eat mostly unprocessed or lightly processed plant food (nuts, fruit, peanut butter on whole grain crackers, etc.)
- Spend time outside in natural light every day. Try to get outside every day and spend time in natural light. If possible, go outside in the early morning, the middle of the day, and the early evening on most days – exposure to natural light at those times of day help to set your body’s circadian rhythm, which affects sleep, energy, hormones, and appetite.
- Reduce the amount of time you spend on social media and electronic devices. If scrolling social media or surfing the internet makes you feel anxious, cut down on both. Put your phone or tablet out of sight several times a day and do something more productive and better for your mental health. And limit your screen time in the evening, as it can negatively affect your sleep.
- Prioritize positive relationships and spending time with the people you love. One of the ways to spend less time on devices is to spend more time with people. If you’re feeling a lack of connection, start adding more interaction with people to your life. And consider focusing the time you do spend with people (family dinners, car rides) on conversation rather than media.
- Find a stress reducer that works for you. If you know (or suspect) that physical or emotional stress is affecting your health and peace of mind, find something that reduces stress for you and do it regularly. Exercise is a great stress reducer, but figure out what works for you and start doing it regularly. You may have to let go of something else that you’re doing to make time for it, and that’s okay.
Living healthier and happier doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy. Pick one of these little changes, or another one that resonates with you, and start doing it regularly. Once it becomes a habit, pick another one and keep going until you’re feeling healthy, happy, strong, and connected.
What little changes, or big changes, are you working on, or would you love to work on this year? Leave a comment below and let me know – I’d love to hear from you.