7 Healthy Habits Worth Creating in 2022

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Have you grown tired of making impractical New Year’s resolutions? Are you looking for a new strategy this time around—one that allows you to develop good habits without forcing you to transform your entire lifestyle in one day? 

You’ve come to the right place. Through Riding the Wave, I strive to inspire others to get the most out of life. I’ve listed seven healthy, practical habits that you can start implementing in the new year.

1. Leave Town      

If it has been a while since you have left your hometown, now could be an excellent opportunity to do so. Not only can taking a vacation do wonders for your mental health, but the process of planning a trip can boost your happiness. Plus, when you return from your vacation, you will be recharged and more productive and creative.

2. Stay Put

If you want a break but don’t really want to leave town, opt for a staycation. Austin is one of the best cities in the country for staycations because there is so much to do, and it has a plethora of nice vacation rentals to choose from. Book an Austin rental that has a full kitchen so you can cook healthy meals, which will save you money and ensure you get the nutrition you need.

Whether you choose to stay in a trendy district like Rainey Street or near top-notch outdoor activities in the Reserve at Lake Travis, you should have no trouble finding a vacation rental that allows you to unwind and stay healthy.

3. Shape Up Your Diet

Too many people start the new year by trying to implement a strict diet plan. A more practical way to go about it is to make simple changes to your eating habits that allow you to gradually improve your long-term health. Focus on eating for energy and full-body health. Moderate your sugar, salt, and fat intake, and eat more lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. 

4. Find Your Fitness Rhythm

If you are like many other people, you struggle to exercise consistently. Maybe you are busy, or perhaps you have not found a physical activity you don’t despise. Whatever the case, there are plenty of ways to get the endorphins flowing and benefit your overall health and wellbeing. 

Resolve that you will try out however many activities as it takes this year. Go for runs or brisk walks, try a few HIIT workouts, go for a swim, try your hand at cycling; once you find something you enjoy, you can get into a rhythm of doing it four or five days a week. 

5. Do a Digital Detox     

We encounter so much stimulation on any given day. By unplugging from your electronic devices periodically, you can help reset your mind and foster your mental health. 

Choose at least one moment each day to put your devices away and focus on the present. And consider unplugging entirely for one full day each week.

6. Limit Your Commitments

When you commit to everyone and everything, it increases the stress in your life and leaves you less time to do things that bring you health and joy. Clarify your priorities, learn your limits, and take a moment before saying yes. 

7. Take On a New Hobby

Finally, add an activity to your routine that simply brings you joy. Maybe you can pick up figure drawing, painting, or sculpting. Perhaps you should try your hand at photography, gardening, or crafting model rockets. Whatever it is, start a hobby that you can look forward to during a stressful week.

Developing good habits can transform your life. And it is typically the small-but-significant habits that end up having a lasting impact. Consider the tips above for beginning the new year with practical changes to take your overall health and wellbeing to the next level. 

Ode to an Elementary School

Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

It was winter break 2013.

We were enjoying a relaxing time at the grandparents’ house with our kindergartener and 2-year-old when Jason’s phone rang. It was the school. We couldn’t fathom why they’d be calling over break when the faculty and staff, ostensibly, would be relaxing at home as we were.

It was the unthinkable. Jack’s teacher had been killed by a drunk driver in a tragic car accident. When we told Jack, who was a kid intensely attached to routines, his main concern was, “But I’m supposed to be Outrider when we go back.”

The Outrider brought in an “All About Me” poster and got various privileges. He was worried the substitute wouldn’t know this, that she wouldn’t know that lunch was at 11:15 or that the folders got passed out at 2:30. That 1:20 was storytime. His anxiety about the schedule added to my own anxiety and grief over the loss of a kind and knowledgeable kindergarten teacher.

The school stayed in close contact with us.

Almost as soon as I’d wonder something (Who would be the sub? Would they be permanent? What would the school do to ease the transition and help all those 5-year-old kids understand what had happened?), then I would get a message or phone call addressing that concern, before I even asked.

Parents were invited to walk their kids to class that first day after the break. As soon as we walked in the door, the sub, a seasoned teacher, greeted us. When I said, “This is Jack,” she said, “Oh hi, Jack! You’re Outrider this week, aren’t you?” I could feel his anxiety melt away. I felt relieved and so very grateful.

The school provided counseling for both the kids and the parents. We had extra parent meetings to allow us to discuss what had happened and what would happen next. It felt real — not like they were just checking a box. Everyone — the substitute, other teachers, school counselor, principal and assistant principal — cared, and they wanted these kids and these parents to be okay.

My youngest kiddo is in 5th grade, now.

The past nine years have held a lot of joy and fun, but the real test is always when the going gets tough. In our time at this elementary school, I have seen the staff handle many crises, big and small, with grace, humor, empathy and steadfastness. Whether it’s nefarious critters on the playground, a flooded first floor or a possible threat to safety in the immediate area, they always communicate with families in a thorough and timely manner. Even when the community could, at times, be less than supportive, I never saw bitterness or defensiveness, only a dedication to meeting the needs of their students the best they could.

The pandemic has challenged educators like never before.

This has not been an isolated incident in which they’ve had to fix things, manage fallout and pick up the pieces. It’s a large-scale crisis punctuated by smaller, related ones. In March of 2020, they scraped together online learning in a week and continued to improve it as it became clear video conference classes would be here a while. They managed the constant flux of in-person and virtual school while coping with their own pandemic stress. It had to be hard, but they never seemed defeated. The going did get tough, but they proved they were tough enough to keep going and to do so with care in their hearts.

The schools were a significant part of why we moved here ten years ago. I had taught in the district and knew our kids would get a quality academic education. But I underestimated the genuine attention to their social-emotional growth and the dedication to the community. It’s admirable to be the kind of teacher who constantly asks yourself, How can I do better? What do the kids in my class need? What can I do for their families? It’s impressive to be the principal who stays close to what’s happening in the classroom and the community. It is awe-inspiring to be the kind of educator who does that during the tragedy of a suddenly-lost kindergarten teacher or during the stress of a pandemic that is constantly morphing but refuses to go away.

I taught school for 10 years, and I’m not sure I could’ve done it.

I don’t know that I could have handled the fraught emotional landscape of death, the constant pressure from the community, the wearing down of a pandemic. So when I think about the people we’ve known who work there, when I contemplate the elementary school that’s felt like a second home for almost a decade, I feel the purest sense of gratitude.

You guys are not my family. You don’t live in my house. You didn’t have to care about my kids in the sea of hundreds that traverse the halls each day, but you always did. (And now I’m bawling, which is why I write these things instead of saying them in person.) From the bottom of my aching, swelling heart, thank you.