January is a great time to start new habits. Better habits which will set you up for a happier, healthier year. However, getting started is always the hardest part. Taking the first step can be daunting and people are often put off by the size of the challenge.
Luckily, many of these daunting challenges start with an easy first step. Often by doing just one little thing you set yourself up to for something much greater.
Here are 7 first steps you should take in January for a great start to the New Year.
- Have a Medical Check-Up
This is a critical first step before many things, such as losing weight or starting an exercise regime. Before making any major (or minor) lifestyle changes it essential to consult with your doctor. They will be able to help you set healthy goals, and advise you of any considerations you should be aware of because of your particular state of health. This also means you can identify any underlying health issues and be able to address them.
- Join a Fitness Group
Many people having getting fit at the top of their New Years’ resolutions, but the majority of people fail in this respect. One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated and accountable is to join some kind of group fitness activity. Having a set appointment and others who are expecting you to be there means you are much more likely to show up, and keep showing up. Not to mention that working out with others is much more fun! You can sign up for various fitness and dance classes, or join fitness groups on social media – make the first step and sign up for one!
- Eat More Vegetables
Eating a healthy balanced diet is critical, but it can also be a challenge. Make a start by focusing on just one part: eating more vegetables. Vegetables are important sources of nutrients, and have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. It is important to make an effort to at least 5 serves of vegetables a day, but doing so every day can become a drag. Incorporate more vegetables into your daily diet by being creative: have an omelette stuffed with veggies for breakfast, try vegetable-based soups for lunch, and snack on carrots or cucumber with a tasty dip.
- Download a Water App
Drinking enough water is vital for our physical health, focus, emotional wellbeing and more. Experts recommend drinking at least 2 litres (half a gallon) of water per day, and more if you’re exercising or if the weather is warm. While you’re on the go, however, it can be hard to remember to drink all those glasses of water. There are a number of free apps you can download which allow you to track how much you’re drinking and prompt you to make sure you get those 2 litres every day!
- Get an STI Test
Our sexual health is equally as important as our general health, but it is an area we often overlook. When was the last time you had an STI test? Countless people are estimated to be carrying STIs without even knowing it. Most STIs are easily treatable if caught early, but become more difficult to treat the longer they go on. In the meantime carriers can pass the infection on to others, and can suffer severe health problems in the long term. Chlamydia is a particular issue in the UK, being by far the most prevalent STI. It is also asymptomatic in around half of male patients and the majority of female patients. There is a sexual health clinic in Watford that offers discreet STI testing, and appointments can be booked online. Take the vital first step to looking after your sexual health by getting an STI test.
- Set Up a Bedtime Routine
Another thing we’re always being told is essential for good physical and mental health is getting a good night’s sleep. However, like many of the other things we should be doing for our health, getting these 8 hours a night can be a challenge. Set yourself up for greatness by establishing a bedtime routine which will help you to drift off to solid, restful sleep. Your bedtime routine is your own so it will be different for everyone, but make sure to include relaxing elements such as a bath or meditation. Having a ban on electronic devices for an hour or so before you sleep will also be very helpful.
- Take Up Meditation
Meditation has been shown to have many benefits, including reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving concentration, and boosting overall wellbeing. This may seem like a very foreign activity though if it is something you’re not used to. Start with just 5 minutes of meditation a day and work your way up from there: there are a range of YouTube videos and apps you can try.