15 Ways to Improve Your Health in 2015

Are you unsure which of your priorities is most important for your future? Do you have plenty of dreams for the upcoming weeks, months and years, but not many concrete plans or goals?

Check out these 15 goals you can make to improve your physical and mental well being during the next weeks, months and beyond.

Plans & Goals to Help Improve Your Physical Health

  1. Eat right. Focus on adopting healthy eating habits rather than resorting to crash diets. Learn to eat more slowly and reduce your portion sizes – set a timer before meals and try to extend your time a few minutes each week until you’re taking at least 20 minutes to finish a meal. This will give your body time to signal fullness and enable you to eat less overall.

Eat a variety of foods with plenty of complex carbohydrates, fresh vegetables and fruits. Add in some lean proteins and healthy fats to complete your meals. Measure your portions and track your consumption if weight loss is your goal.

  1. Exercise daily. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every day. Round that out with resistance training for strength and flexibility.

Find a variety of activities that you enjoy, like brisk walks and biking.

Get an exercise ball, treadmill, or DVD that you can use at home on busy days or when the weather outside is unpleasant.

  1. Get adequate rest and sleep. Insufficient sleep can make you more vulnerable to weight gain and many illnesses. Different individuals need different amounts of sleep, but the conventional eight hours is a good rule for most people. If you constantly feel drowsy, try going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier each week until you reach a number that makes you feel your best.
  2. Take care of your bones. Almost half of all women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. Men can be at risk too. Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Get some sunshine and lift weights or do other resistance training to help reinforce your bone-strengthening efforts.
  3. Practice good posture. Strong abdominal muscles will protect your back from injury and help you look younger. Get used to pressing your navel towards your lower back and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Breathe from your abdomen rather than your chest, and intentionally try to slow your breathing to help you focus on completely expanding your lungs and completely emptying your lungs.
  4. Quit smoking. You probably already know all the dangers of smoking, including lung cancer and premature aging. Consult with your physician if needed.

Many people make several attempts before quitting for good so be open to various cessation methods. Your doctor may be able to help you find the right plan for you.

  1. Drink alcohol in moderation. Some people may need to avoid alcohol all together. Others can stay safe within the general limits of one drink a day for women and two for men. Avoid alcohol before bed so you get good quality sleep.
  2. See your doctor. Regularly scheduled checkups enable early treatment to keep small health issues from growing into bigger issues. If you can’t afford health insurance, or only have limited coverage, you may be able to get some free or inexpensive screenings at local pharmacies and health fairs.

Plans & Goals to Improve Your Mental Health

  1. Manage stress. Keeping stress under control lets you enjoy life more. Set aside time each day for meditation, listening to soothing music, or reading. Choose an activity that you love – perhaps one from past experience.
  2. Build healthy relationships. Develop a strong network of support. Communicate openly and with respect, and make time for friends and family.
  3. Monitor your thoughts. Think positively about your life and your current situation. Divert your attention away from nonproductive worrying by brainstorming creative solutions to challenging situations.
  4. Practice positive self talk. Be a good friend to yourself. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments, and use them to propel you forward to new achievements.
  5. Be compassionate. Show compassion to yourself and others. Be aware of the suffering in the world and look for ways to alleviate it.
  6. Engage in lifelong learning. Keep your mind sharp by giving it constant challenges. Take adult education classes – live or online – or listen to foreign language tapes.
  7. Consider counseling. It’s wise and courageous to ask for help when you need it. Professional counseling or spiritual practices may help you bounce back from unfortunate events like divorce or unemployment. They can be useful for smaller things, too, like if you’ve just had a rough week.

While many plans for positive change get discarded faster than the weekly trash pick-up, there are ways to make your plans and goals stick. Set SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based – that are important to you. Improving your physical and mental health is a great gift for yourself and your whole family.