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5 Tips for Easing Into Healthier Habits in the New Year

A woman in a yoga pose.
Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy

For many, the start of a new year signals new routines and healthier habits. While it can be tempting to go all-out as soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day, the truth is you’ll have a better shot at sticking with it if you start slow. These five simple tips will help you ease into a new, healthier routine.

Our health should always be at the top of our priority list. Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose sight of this in the go-go-go world in which we live. However, if you can work these five easy habits into your daily routine, you’ll find it much easier to stay on top of your self-care and health goals all year.

Just Move

Every day, make some kind of movement a priority. Whether it’s a morning yoga session, a squat or crunch challenge, or running up and down the stairs in your office building, just make it a point to do something every day.

It’s extremely important to keep all your systems running at their best, as only then can your body fight off viruses, bacteria, and diseases. Muscle contraction and relaxation improve blood circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system. This makes it more efficient at flushing out toxins and water retention, while simultaneously ensuring better nutrient absorption and oxygen dispersion.

If you’re unsure what kind of exercises to do, just venture over to YouTube. You’ll find thousands of different workouts to sweat to. Try a new one each day until you find a few favorites, and then rotate them during the week.

Even a little goes a long way. Just get up and stretch your legs every 30 minutes or take a short walk at lunchtime. Or, just blast your favorite playlist and dance for as long as you can. Any way you choose to get moving can make a world of a difference if you do it daily.

Focus On Nutrients

A woman drinking a mug of sage tea.
Feyyaz Alacam/Shutterstock.com

There’s no better time to arm yourself with a bunch of vitamins, minerals, and superfoods than at the start of a new year. Aim to add at least one food that’s high in micronutrients to every meal. This will optimize your digestive system from breakfast through dinner.

Here are the easiest ways to implement this without overthinking it:

  • Smoothies: Get creative with a variety of green smoothies and experiment with different vegetables and fruit combinations.
  • Use only healthy salad dressings: Fill your salads with colorful vegetables and make your own healthy homemade dressings full of immune-boosting omega fatty acids.
  • Vitamin C: Increase your consumption of Vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, pineapple, kiwi, cauliflower, sweet potatos, and broccoli.
  • Berries: Add them to everything because they’re super high in antioxidants and pair nicely with everything from Greek yogurt and meat sauces to healthy desserts.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Your water intake should be high, but also introduce other drinks like teas, kombuchas, or superfood lattes. They’re filled with immune-boosting compounds, like disease-fighting antioxidants, stress-reducing adaptogens, anti-inflammatory spices, microbiome-optimizing probiotics, and other herbs with medicinal properties.
  • Take supplements: Vegans and other plant-based eaters need to pay attention to their B12 and vitamin K intake, as they can only be obtained from animal sources. Everyone should check their vitamin D levels, as the majority of the population is deficient. Agriculture processes and the overwhelming demand for food is depleting the soil, and stripping it of important vitamins and minerals. This results in food with lower micronutrient levels, so supplementation is key.
Warning: It’s always wise to discuss it with your physician before drastically changing your diet or taking any supplements, especially if you’re dealing with an existing health condition.

Of course, staying away from fried and processed foods as much as possible is a good idea, too. They can increase inflammation, endanger your immune system, and increase the risk of infection.

Optimizing your health means focusing on adding helpful nutrients to your diet so your body can fight harmful pathogens without prescription drugs. Inflaming it with toxins overwhelms your system and leaves it fewer resources for efficiently fighting off anything harmful.

Try Mindfulness or Meditation

Many of us are multitasking from the moment we open our eyes to the moment we finally collapse in bed at night. But carving out some time for yourself every day is crucial to optimize your health and help your brain process all your thoughts to stay on top of tasks.

Getting more connected with your inner self and focusing on the present are just a few of the benefits of incorporating mindfulness or meditation into your day. It can also reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, improve your focus and productivity, and even help you recover more quickly from an illness.

To try it, just start each morning with some self-reflection and positive thoughts, rather than immediately looking at your phone or any other technology. Give yourself some “you time” before you let the world in to take over your day.

Take some time to make and eat a proper breakfast or jot down your thoughts in a journal. Not only will this get you thinking about how you feel, but it can also feed your creativity and help you with personal projects, or even at work. If you’re at a loss about what to write, get a journal with prompts to help get you started.

It’s important while you’re taking your “you time” that you avoid distractions. For this to work, you have to focus only on yourself and remain in the present. For some, a guided meditation might be easier, as a voice will lead you through the process of focusing on you for a few minutes each day.

There are tons of free meditations on YouTube, as well as apps you can use on your phone. Give one a try. You’ll be surprised how easy it is and how refreshed you feel afterward.

Get Better Sleep

A man asleep in bed.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Paying more attention to your sleeping habits and focusing on improving the quality of your sleep are important changes to make in your daily routine.

Your body can only fully recover from each day if it gets enough rest. As we sleep, our systems “reboot” and enter an energy-saving mode. Each and every cell regenerates, is replenished with nutrients, and optimizes its functions. Pretty cool, huh?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults ages 18-64 get nine hours of sleep per night. If you’re not getting enough rest, you’ll create a lot of extra problems for yourself, including a lack of focus, irritability, and impaired memory.

The long-term effects of poor sleeping habits can be even more serious, and include high blood pressure, diabetes, and even heart attack or stroke. In other words, getting enough sleep is a big deal!

Try to start going to bed earlier if you get up around the same time each morning and minimize your exposure to screens and technology at least an hour before bedtime. If you start implementing healthier sleep habits, you’ll soon notice a difference in your mood, energy levels, and mental focus.

Take Breaks

No matter what tasks occupy your daily schedule, a healthy habit that needs to be a part of your routine is taking scheduled breaks. It’s not uncommon to get buried in work, answering email after email with your eyes glued to a screen all day. Not only is this bad for your mental health, it’s also bad for your eyes.

This is why breaks are so important. Several times each day, step away from the computer and take a walk, listen to a podcast, call a friend, or simply do something completely non-work related.

This gives your brain some time to relax, reset, and declutter the abundance of information it’s taken in that day. It can also prevent fatigue and give you a new perspective on your work when you return.

The necessary tools to optimize our health and take better care of ourselves are affordable (or even free!) and well within reach. All we have to do is use them! If you make a solid effort, before long, you won’t even have to think about hitting that walking trail or doing that morning mediation—they’ll just be a regular part of your day.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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