Small changes that can make a big difference
For some, jumping all-in to major transformations is most appealing. But for others, taking on a monumental shift may seem overwhelming, and the brain may even resist the change (especially after a few days).
If you’re worried your conceptualized changes may be too much to realistically handle, try a new approach to your fresh start by creating small habits that can make a big difference.
Focusing on minor adaptations may provide a better outcome for both physical and mental health due to reducing previous unhealthy habits to make room for new beneficial ones and being able to achieve reasonably set goals.
Ease into these small changes mindfully and consider some of the following when creating new, healthy goals.
Sleep is a foundation for good health, so nurturing it is essential.
Start by creating a consistent sleep-wake cycle that you adhere to as much as possible. This encourages the body to follow its circadian rhythm and may result in more quality sleep.
Foster good sleep habits with:
- a comfortable, quiet, and cozy sleep space
- a nightly routine such as turning off electronics before bedtime (as much as several hours beforehand), reading, or meditating
- reducing daily stress
- including supplements such as magnesium and/or calcium
Modifications in diet are typically high on the list of changes people want to undertake but missing in much of those is hydration.
Hydration is key to a variety of bodily functions such as mood, energy, detoxification, and immunity which makes liquid consumption vital for optimal wellness.
Increase your fluid intake in ways such as:
- starting the day with a full glass of water
- keeping a water bottle with you throughout the day
- relaxing with a cup of warm tea each afternoon
- including broths and soups in weekly meals
While set exercise (such as taking a yoga class or working out at a gym) can be an excellent way to get and stay healthy, adding other movement throughout the day has merit, too.
Expand daily movement by:
- taking a meeting outside for a walk
- parking the car further from an entrance
- climbing stairs instead of using an elevator
- going for a daily walk with the dog
- playing with grandchildren at the park
- planning family movement experiences such as hiking, swimming, dancing, etc.
More movement can be just as enjoyable mentally as it is rewarding physically.
Connect with others
Social connection offers numerous health benefits such as decreased anxiety and/or depression, a stronger sense of self, and improved immunity which makes fostering relationships a fundamental component of health.
Nurture social connection by:
- calling a loved one each week
- writing letters to those far away
- hosting a neighborhood coffee or tea
- scheduling a monthly dinner out with friends
- spending quality time with a spouse
- making time for play and bonding with children
Enjoy the gratitude for having such a special network.
Try a new hobby
Don’t forget to add joy to life. The release of dopamine from an activity you love can create a sense of fulfillment that positively affects mood, digestion, sleep, and stress. In addition, strengthening cognitive abilities is helpful for the brain.
Newfound experiences can promote these health benefits so consider expanding your knowledge and skill set by learning a new hobby in such areas as music, sport, dance, art, science, literature, language, and more.
When pursuing a new goal in tiny increments, make sure they’re feasible for your overall goals. And remember that small changes can be just as powerful as major shifts in creating healthy, lifelong habits.