It doesn’t have to be January to start making wellness a priority. Spring is the perfect time to make strides toward a healthier you.
Implementing healthier habits into your lifestyle can feel a tad overwhelming. But guess what? You don’t have to overhaul your routine to improve your health. Sometimes, making a few simple changes is all it takes to get better sleep, be less stressed, and have a healthier body.
If you missed the boat on prioritizing your wellbeing in January, spring is a great time to get started. The weather is beginning to improve, which means more produce is finally in season, and squeezing in extra movement is more manageable.
Ready to get started? Here, experts give us the lowdown on six small changes that’ll start improving your health in no time.
Eat more protein
Research suggests that adults under 65 should consume about 0.8 grams of dietary protein per kilogram of body weight to maintain optimal health. After 65, you should aim for 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. (That’s at least 68 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound person.)
Think you’re missing the mark? Swap out nutrient-void snacks (think: cookies and sweets) with something like a BOOST Nutritional Drink. In addition to being packed with 10 grams of protein and an alphabet of vitamins, it’s easy to sip on the go.
At meal times, add a whole-food source of protein. This might mean including eggs or oatmeal with breakfast, and a lean protein like fish, tofu, or chicken at lunch and dinner.
Make time for self-care
Self-care isn’t just about wellness retreats and complex skincare routines. “Self-care can include subtle activities that help you maintain healthy boundaries,” says Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist.
“Sometimes, it’s simply about speaking to yourself with kindness and self-respect,” she says.
Set a small goal for yourself to incorporate more movement into your everyday routine—especially on the days when you don’t have the time to get to the gym.
“A body in motion stays in motion,” says Alex Silver-Fagan, personal trainer and creator of Flow Into Strong. “When you’re working on sticking to a healthier routine, the little things add up and keep you on track. Even if you aren’t able to get a full workout in during the day, going for walks, taking the stairs, and doing little bits of movement consistently will keep you on the path towards your goals.”
Reserve 30-seconds to breathe
There’s more to staying healthy than working out and eating right. It also involves taking time to relax. Taking steps to manage stress can help keep the immune, digestive, and sleep systems functioning soundly. Thankfully you don’t need to spend forever in a yoga class or bathtub to unwind.
Bethany Lyons, the founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga, suggests this simple breathing exercise to release tension from the body: Over the course of 30 seconds, take five deep breaths. “Count to five and pause at the top of the inhale, then count to five and pause at the bottom of the exhale,” she says. “To cause an even bigger shift to your state of mind or mood, visualize breathing in whatever you want to create in the moment and visualize letting go of any feelings or thoughts that are not serving you.”
Stretch every morning
Even something as simple as stretching can make a major difference in your overall health. “Stretching is so important because [it can] keep you healthy, mobile, and pain-free for the long term,” says Vanessa Chu, co-Founder of Stretch*d.
Chu recommends stretching for 10 minutes first thing in the morning when your body is often stiff from being immobile for so long. Her go-to move? The single-knee hugger, which you can execute by laying on your back. Keeping your left leg down, bring your right knee toward your chest and wrap your hands around your right hamstring. Pull the hamstring slowly toward your torso for 30 seconds. Release, and repeat on the opposite side.
Spend time outside daily
Spring is the perfect time to get outside and add a bit more movement to your typical day. Not only can getting outdoors put you in a better mood, but it can also keep you on your fitness game.
According to research from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, those that got active in the great outdoors enjoyed their workouts more and said they were more likely to repeat them than participants who were holed up inside.