This post has been sponsored by BCBSAZ. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own, honest views.
With the holiday season nearly all behind us, and the new year just around the corner, I am looking forward to getting back to healthy habits for 2020.
If you’ve been following along for the past couple of years, you may recall that I am a fan of setting new year’s goals, rather than resolutions. Goals set a more positive tone for the coming year, while still keeping expectations realistic.
At the same time, I know there is a subset of people out there who dislike the idea of using the new year as a turning point for healthy habits. To an extent, I agree. I do believe that healthy habits all year round are what really make the difference in total mind/body wellness. However, it’s easy with the hussle and stress of the holidays to slip a little or even get completely derailed from those healthy habits one normally sticks to during the rest of the year.
So this year, rather than setting lofty new goals, my main goals center around getting back to healthy habits I know work for me. I love chatting about new health and wellness things I’m trying, and sharing what works for me over on my Instagram Stories, but I thought it would be nice to have it all on one blog post, in case you want to refer back!
We all know the age-old advice that we should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night, right? Well again, those of you who know me know that for many years now, I have struggled to get any more than 4-6 hours on most nights. But over the last year, I have really been focusing on getting not only more sleep, and more importantly, better quality sleep when I do. The way I have improved my sleep centers a lot around my nighttime routine.
I noticed I was staying up later when I was staring at a screen late into the night. I also found it hard to fall asleep, because my mind would be reeling from all the tasks I hadn’t finished from earlier in the day. Then I would stay up too late, and get up later in the morning. Getting up later meant I was short with the kids as we rushed out the door to school. Then I would be groggy and inefficient all day long because of my lack of sleep. It was a vicious cycle I knew I had to change.
I learned from an ayurvedic doctor when I was doing my yoga teacher training earlier this year, that although we may have different dosha (mind/body type), and consequently different optimal times of day when we can perform at our best, it is best for all dosha types to be in bed no later than 10pm. This was HUGE for me, as I routinely would crawl into bed much later than that!
In order to prepare my body for sleep at an earlier time than I had in the past, I started doing the following small things to signal to my body it was time for rest:
- After the kids go down for bed (8pm) I turn off most of the lights in the house and dim what I still need on to finish any nightly chores.
- Start the diffuser in my bedroom with lavender and set it on the 3 hour timer.
- Finish up any screen time work I need to, and then shut it down. I now keep my phone in the kitchen at night and I use a seperate alarm clock to wake me in the morning so I don’t have the temptation of my phone by my bed!
- I often take a bath at night, or if not I shower to wash off the day and also calm my nervous system to prepare for sleep.
- Finish the rest of my nightly routine and crawl into bed (as close to) 10pm as possible. 😉
I have always loved physical movement for my body. To me, it is about so much more than just looking a certain way. It makes me feel good (hello, endorphins) and being physically stronger means my overall energy levels are higher, so I can play with my kids and set a good example to them for life long health.
But, like a lot of busy moms over the holidays, when rushing around to all of the class parties, errands, and finishing last minute work projects, my favorite barre and yoga classes can sometimes take a back seat. This is again why I love the promise of a clear schedule in the new year, and a renewed sense of purpose when it comes to moving my body and getting stronger again.
This January, I am treating myself to a yoga retreat for my birthday too! In the past, I would have been worried about being “good enough” to keep up with the other talented yogis who will surely be at the retreat alongside me. But this time, what I am looking forward to most is going deeper in mind, body, and spirit. To set some more new goals beyond just the superficial. Which brings me to another new skill I learned this past year, mediation.
Meditation was one of those things I had heard about, and always wanted to try, but just never quite knew how to start. Can ya feel me?
There are so many different ways you can meditate. Actually yoga itself is a moving meditation. But all of the choices sorta adds to the overwhelming aspect if it! So I wanted to share the advice I received from someone wiser than me once: if you want to start meditating, just sit quietly and watch the breath. In, and out. Let the thoughts come in, acknowledge them, and then let them float away just as easily, without criticism or judgment. There, you meditated!
Just do it for a few minutes each day until it feels right- and then stop. My favorite time of day to meditate is first thing in the morning right after I wake up and wash my face (and preferably before the kids wake up and start asking me 52,684 questions).
Another mediation I’ve been doing this past year is with a mala. A mala has 108 beads on it, which has significance in yoga, but I won’t get into all that here. I use a little mantra and just say it over and over, 108 times as I pass the beads through my thumb and middle finger to count. You’re mantra can be literally anything that you feel you are needing to hear in your life. The one I have been using the most in the past year is . “I’m on the path, this is the path.”
Using a mala with a mantra has been a great way for me to give my monkey mind something else to concentrate on for a few minutes. Which consequently allows me to tune out the rest of the noise in my brain.
I know meditation can seem just a bit “woo-hoo” to a lot of people. But meditating has been one of the biggest game changers this year for me in my everyday life, and especially for my (sometimes) crippling anxiety. I highly recommend it!
Speaking of overwhelming, we all know that with all of the latest diet fads, it can be confusing (to say the least) as to what and how we are supposed to eat. I am for sure guilty of following the trends to try to find the “best” diet out there.
But one thing I know for sure, eating fresh, whole foods (and especially plants) as they come from the earth with minimal amounts of processing is always a good idea. I have enjoyed shopping at local farmer’s markets for many years now, and it’s one of the things I miss most about California from when we lived there. Now, we do have a great little farmer’s market near our house here in Arizona, that we try to go to when we can on Saturdays. And although meal planning can be another somewhat daunting task, I do find that when we cook fresh at home more often, it really isn’t that much more effort, and it’s certainly easier on our budget than eating out (as we tend to do all too often with family in town for the holidays)!
So that’s how we are getting back into healthy habits for 2020! What are some of your new year’s goals? I always love to hear what other people are planning for their new year, so please, share with me in the comments!
Thanks again to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona for sponsoring this post and encouraging Arizona families to stay healthy during the holidays! BCBSAZ is committed to helping Arizonans get healthier faster and stay healthier longer. With a focus on connecting people with the care they need, BCBSAZ offers health insurance and related services to more than 1.5 million customers. BCBSAZ, a not-for-profit company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.