Forget all the “new year, new you” BS that is preached at the start of every year. Sure, making improvements on yourself is a positive start, but there’s one important thing we often forget when we’re laser-focused on being better, slimmer, and stronger: to love your body as it is. So, instead of obsessing about resolutions related to changing something (which, by the way, are kind of meh anyway), commit to spending the year being kind to yourself.
And the most important thing you can give your mind, body, and soul in the new year? Exactly what it’s telling you it needs. “It’s important to listen to your body and tune into its needs,” says Sophie Jaffe Health & Wellness Expert, Raw Food Chef, Yoga Teacher, and founder of Philosophie. ”It’ll tell you when it needs nourishment, rest, or something sweet just to pick itself up.” Practice mindfulness as a means of being more aware of your own thoughts and physicality, and it will ultimately help you understand what is best for you.
Here are nine simple ways to start being kinder to your body.
Get. More. Sleep
We all know how important sleep is, but the reality is that none of us are actually getting enough of it. “Seven to nine hours is the standard recommendation,” says Leo Echeverria, COO of Snuz.com. “During sleep, your brain and body are actually restoring themselves. A good night’s sleep will enhance the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise, while many physical ailments can be aggravated or made worse due to lack of.” Evidence also shows that poor sleep patterns can contribute to the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Commit to rebooting your sleep routine for your most well-rested year yet.
Drop the guilt around food
Stop punishing yourself for being “bad” with your eating habits. In fact, let’s ban the word “bad” as it relates to diet entirely. “Food is here not only to nourish you, but also to share with the people you love,” says author, nutritionist, and yoga teacher Lola Berry. “Enjoy that piece of chocolate cake, every bite of it, and don’t beat yourself up afterwards. Instead, try to share the experience with someone, so it becomes a positive memory.”
Instead of mindlessly snacking in front of the refrigerator, put thought into what you’re putting in your body—chances are, it will help you make healthier choices. “Mindful eating means being present when you eat—it’s a lovely way to look at food and also helps to prevent overeating,” says Berry. “Take a moment to take in your surroundings, the smells and the people you’re enjoying food with.”
Make healthy swaps in your diet
Instead of vowing to cut out sweets or saying goodbye to carbs until next year, swap them out for healthier options. “Drop the refined sugary treats like chocolate bars, and try making your own raw treats or opt for naturally sweetened things like raw dark chocolate,” says Berry. Instead of sugar, try using stevia, maple or honey; stick with butter, coconut, and olive oils when you cook; and swap out the white bread for whole grain to get more nutrients like B vitamins, fiber, and zinc.
Consider cleansing regularly
Relax! We aren’t suggesting you go on a crazy juice cleanse, but taking brief hiatuses from toxins can help your body (and mind) feel better. “I like to cleanse throughout the year, typically once a season. That way, I can enjoy all the seasonal goodies, but also give my body a break, remove toxins, and flood it with nutrients,” says Jaffe, who recommends her own Philosophie cleanses, which are made with whole nutrients. “Cleansing self-care rituals are also an important part of one’s life. To harmonize with your body and soul, you have to accept all parts of your entire self and love every little piece.”
Stop the negativity
Being kind to your body isn’t just a physical thing. “I think the way that you can be kinder to your body is to send it intentional love, appreciation, and forgiveness anytime where you feel judgment,” says energy healing therapist Marci Baron. Shut down your inner shamer and focus on the incredible things your body is capable instead.
There are nearly a dozen reasons why you should be going down on yourself more often, not the least of which is because it feels good. Masturbation promotes body positivity, vaginal health, better sleep, and an increased immune system. Plus, it can make your sex life better. 2018: The year of the vibrator.
Add yoga to your routine
Even if you’re already pretty good about exercising, you may want to consider adding regular yoga practice to your routine, too. “There is so much science out there about the benefits of yoga—the poses, meditation, and breathing are now what a lot of successful business people and creatives include in their daily regimen to make the most out of their day,” says NYC-based yoga studio owner Yanti Amos. “If you want longevity and to live your best life, I’d say yoga can provide that… The simple act of matching yoga moves with the breath means that you have an increased sense of well-being, increased positivity, and an overall feeling of gratitude.”
Above all? “Find ways to add activities that spark joy and passion,” says Amos. For anyone, I’d say inject more fun and creativity to your daily routine.” Make time to things that make you smile or, better yet, full-on laugh. Her best advice? “Do for yourself what you’d tell a best friend or loved one to do to live a less stressful year.”