Being better: The healthy habits these experts are taking in 2023

In 2022, COVID restrictions lifted and most of us did our best to return to “normal”. Travel re-opened, social gatherings went back into full swing – all great things – but it also felt like more people were burnt out than ever.

The dawning of a new year typically brings with it the donning of rose-tinted glasses and the promise of a better you. But improving our health and relationships requires more than just hope – it requires dedication and a bit of good old-fashioned elbow grease.

Jamal Elsheikh wants to limit his social media use and get better sleep in 2023.

Below, three health experts share the habits they’ll be taking into 2023, and the ones they will be leaving behind.

Jamal Elsheikh

Co-founder of One Love Australia and the new Churchill Fellowship recipient

A habit I wish for everyone to take into 2023 is to build a routine to show up for yourself and your personal goals.

Being challenged in life is inevitable but what is in our control is how we show up for ourselves. When I spoke with professional athletes like Australian Cricket Captain Pat Cummins via Reflect Forward, it was clear to me that elite athletes excel in their chosen sports because they have habits and routines that empower them to consistently show up for themselves and their goals. The question is, how do they do that?

Here are my top three habits that enable me to show up for myself and my goals throughout 2022:

  • Limit social media usage, especially in the first and last hour of your day. I have been on a journey to limit my social media usage and I noticed I get a lot done in my day if I stop checking my phone every minute. Challenge: Can you reduce your weekly phone screen time?
  • Ideal sleep: The ultimate gift you can give yourself is good sleep, so how about you explore what your ideal sleep routine looks like? For example, can you go to bed super early, so that your natural body clock wakes up early too? My usual bedtime is from 9pm to 5am, and I allow my body a couple of extra hours if it needs it.
  • Journaling in the first hour of the day has helped me articulate my ideas better. I suggest keeping your phone away when journaling but if you are stretched for time, try journaling by recording a voice memo.

This routine allows time and space to go after your goals and help strike a balance between self-development and self-care.

Dr Sandro Demaio

Public health expert and CEO of VicHealth

Leave the guilt and shame behind in 2022, says Dr Sandro Demaio, and focus on the things that bring us joy.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

As another busy and challenging year draws to a close, it’s important to go easy on ourselves. No one is perfect and expecting ourselves to be places stress on us that we don’t need; stress that can negatively impact our health.

Be okay with where we’re at when it comes to our own health. Take a deep breath and try not to blame ourselves for the things we haven’t been able to fit in, stick to, or get done. That run. Some diet. Or the meditation course. Instead of feeling guilty, reset and celebrate that we managed to get through what was a really tough year.

Once we’ve left the guilt and shame behind, let’s focus on simple things for 2023 that make us feel great about ourselves. Don’t focus on health, or weight, or fitness – focus on how we feel inside.

Where we can, plan small and realistic moments to do things we really enjoy – because enjoyment itself is great for our health.

In 2023, I’m looking forward to spending more time in my veggie garden and the kitchen, hanging out with family – and particularly my nieces, and taking time to spend in nature.

Ali Walker

PhD, Social Scientist & Author of Click or Clash?

Ali Walker has some tips on resolving conflict in our lives.

In 2023, I’m approaching my relationships in a radically different way. In the past, when a person would get on my nerves, I used to craft a story in my head that the situation was all about them. I’d have a judgmental or defensive reaction and think that it was their fault. That’s normal, right?

In the research for my book Click or Clash?, I discovered that we generally clash with people who are acting out and expressing a part of us we are uncomfortable with or haven’t yet come to terms with. The other person represents a part of us we are actively suppressing.

To be clear, it doesn’t mean that our behaviour is as extreme as this person’s behaviour in whatever way they irritate us. Usually, this person is manifesting a more extreme version of a quality we dislike in ourselves or have suppressed.

Clashes, arguments or strong emotional reactions to another person are just a signal of something we need to work on emotionally.

In order to leverage a clash or conflict for our own personal growth, we should pause and consider, “what is the fear or desire underneath my reaction to this person?”

To deal with a clash or conflict, we can ask ourselves the following questions:

  • In one sentence, what is it about this person’s behaviour that is provoking me?
  • What do they have that I wish I had?
  • Is there some part of me I had to suppress that they are acting out?
  • Is there something I can do to bring a bit more of what they represent into my life?

We can even have gratitude towards this person for the gift of clarity they are offering us. Their connection is nudging us towards the life we want, even though it can initially feel like an uncomfortable path to tread.

In 2023, instead of blaming other people for my emotional reactions, I’m going to see them as arrows pointing towards the parts I need to heal in myself.

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