We make resolutions at the start of a new year for a reason — January 1 is the perfect line in the sand, where you can leave bad habits behind and build new ones that leave you happier and healthier. The new year is your chance to take a running start at the goals you want to achieve.
They don’t have to be huge tasks though. Small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to your health, happiness and productivity, especially if you’ve become used to dealing with pain or inflammation.
That’s why we have put together a list of simple healthy habits that can take you through 2023 with less pain, ready to face whatever challenges come your way.
Exercise Physiologist Jennifer Smallridge knows how intricately the health of our mind and body are linked. It’s almost impossible to feel good in one of these realms if the other is suffering. Luckily there are some very easy steps Smallridge recommends that can enhance both your mental and physical health.
As Smallridge points out, we’re all breathing all day, every day. But many of us don’t pay attention to our breath, which is the key to unlocking so many amazing health benefits. “By breathing deep down into your belly, and sighing out your mouth, you can bring about a sense of instant calm,” says Smallridge. Research also shows that by breathing out for longer than you breathe in, the vagus nerve is stimulated, which can settle down our nervous system if you’re feeling stressed. Smallridge suggests breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds, and breathing out for 8 seconds.
This is another thing very many of us are doing every day without really thinking about it. But the simple act of going for a walk can have big benefits — think of it as a sure-fire and quick way to lift your mood. Smallridge says a 20 minute stroll is all you need to change your outlook. “Walking to the cafe and back, calling a friend or getting out on your lunch break are great ways to get this in your day,” she says.
Often, something as simple as a conscious effort to change the way you think about things can go a long way. Dr Tracey Zielinski says that one of the best changes you can make in 2023 is to step away from the all-or-nothing language of “I can’t” — when you approach things from this minstate, you're convincing yourself that a goal or task like a workout or run is impossible. You stop yourself in your tracks.
But Dr Zielinski says that, often, shifting from “I can’t” to “I can” is a step too far. “Instead try telling yourself, ‘This is difficult’ or ‘I’m struggling with this’. You acknowledge that it’s not easy but effectively challenge yourself to keep problem-solving,” she says.
Planning can sometimes make all the difference. This is especially true if you find yourself struggling with motivation to make those early workouts. Dr Zielinski believes that a good morning routine might be one of the easiest and more effective changes you can make in 2023.
“A good morning routine is a great way to start your day, and planning your morning routine the night before primes you for success,” she says.
If you plan to get up and go for a walk, then set out your walking clothes and shoes the night before. Or, another example Dr Zielinski uses is, if you want to eat a healthy breakfast, plan it out the day before. “If anything can be pre-prepared, then do so. The easier you make it for yourself, the easier it is to achieve,” she says.
These are just some of the simple but effective ways you can cruise into 2023 with some healthy habits. Stress relief, planning and basic exercise have been shown to be great ways to reduce pain and inflammation, and when you combine these with other healthy lifestyle choices you’re able to tackle all of the challenges life throws at you.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
About the experts
Tracey has recently published her first book, Get it Together Forever! The Ultimate Guide to Stepping into Control of Your Own Life. She is particularly passionate about educating people around the earlier identification and management of stress which she believes has become a silent assassin in our complex and modern world.