New Year, New You: 7 Game-Changing Healthy Habits for A Brighter 2024
30 January 2024
Healthy Pilipinas

Now that the smoke has settled, it’s time to put pen to paper and make this year’s version of your New Year’s resolutions. As the song goes, “Bagong taon ay magbagong buhay.” Like a blank page, you can write a new chapter in your life with a better and healthier version of yourself in the starring role. That said, here are 7 healthy habits you should include in your New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Move More, Eat Right

Losing weight is a staple on many lists of New Year’s resolutions. To achieve this, you need to exercise regularly and eat a nutritious diet. You don’t need to hit the gym every day like a madman, especially if you don’t have the time or resources. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise as many days of the week as possible. On days when you don't have half an hour to spare, make sure you get around 10 minutes of activity. The key here is to be consistent so make movement a regular part of your day!


As for healthy eating habits, you need to have the discipline and knowledge to make informed choices. A well-stocked pantry helps a lot, too. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and other nutrient-rich food in your diet. Avoid processed foods, unhealthy fats, and sugary beverages like soft drinks and packaged juice drinks.


Quick Tip #1:

Instead of riding the elevator, take the stairs if your destination is only two or three floors up. Running an errand? Walk or bike instead of driving or hailing a pedicab. If you’re behind a desk all day at work, take breaks to stand, walk, and do some stretching exercises to get the blood pumping. Take every opportunity to get some exercise in. Every little bit counts!


Quick Tip #2:

Plan your meals to avoid unhealthy choices when you're hungry and in a hurry. If you cook at home, you have control over the ingredients and portion sizes. You can pack some of your healthy home-cooked meals and bring them to work or for your kids’ lunch at school. Prepare smaller portions of food so you won’t feel obligated to finish everything on your plate even if you’re already full.


  1. Be Clean, Live Sustainably

A good New Year’s resolution is to live a more sustainable life. Start making healthy lifestyle choices that positively affect the planet. We only have one planet so we don’t have much of a choice, do we? Until humans find a way to live on other planets, we’re better off taking care of this one.


The simplest way to care for our planet is to reuse, reduce, and recycle. By minimizing the amount of waste we produce, we lessen pollution and avoid diseases and other health issues.


Quick Tip #3:

Ditch single-use items that contribute significantly to environmental pollution. Use an insulated water bottle instead of buying bottled water when you get thirsty. Pack your baon in a BPA-free bento box or an empty ice cream tub instead of ordering takeout at work. Bring your own shopping bag so you can refuse plastic bags. By opting for reusable products, you help minimize waste that can cause health issues.


Quick Tip #4

Prioritize WASH or water, sanitation, and hygiene for a healthier you this 2024. Consume or use clean and safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene like brushing your teeth. Practice proper sanitation including disposing of human waste the right way. Make it a point to practice good hygiene all year round, too. All these will help you maintain good health and well-being.


  1. Get Vaccinated

After the COVID-19 pandemic, many people realized the importance of vaccinations, especially for children. Last year, over 8 million children were vaccinated during the Department of Health’s Measles, Rubella, and Oral Polio Vaccine Supplemental Immunization Activity (MR-OPV SIA) campaign.


According to former Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, “Vaccination saves lives and prevents disabilities from such diseases.” He also stressed that “these vaccines can give our vulnerable children a good start at life so they can grow into healthy and productive adults.” If your children have yet to be vaccinated, don’t let 2024 end without doing so.


  1. Don't Smoke, Avoid Alcohol, Say No to Drugs

When it comes to unhealthy habits, few come close to smoking, drinking alcohol, and doing drugs. If you haven’t tried them yet, you’re already in a good place. Don’t risk your health. If you do these vices, it’s time to clean yourself up. Nothing good comes from them.


Quick Tip #5

Just say no. This popular slogan was coined by former US First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1982 when she was asked by an elementary student what to do if they were offered drugs. Her response was, "Just say no."


Quick Tip #6

Quitting smoking, drinking, and drugs is a tough yet gratifying journey. A strong network can make a significant impact on your success. Build a support system with family, friends, and your doctor. Join online forums and groups for additional encouragement. You can also contact the following for help:

  • DOH Substance Abuse Helpline 1550
  • DOH Mental Health Crisis Hotline 1553
  • DOH Quitline 1558


  1. Care for Yourself, Care for Others

In recent years, mental health has taken a step forward. Many people are realizing the need to take care of their mental well-being and that it’s necessary to acknowledge if you have a problem. Like a certain Korean TV series likes to say, “It’s okay to not be okay.”


It's normal to experience stress during challenging times, like problems at work, relationship issues, or financial worries. When stress becomes overwhelming, it can impact our daily lives. That's why knowing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions is crucial.


Also, there is no shame in seeking professional help if you recognize some of these symptoms. Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. This 2024, make it one of your healthy habits to prioritize your mental health.


Quick Tip #7

Practice self-care techniques that’ll help you relax and unwind. It can be something as simple as going out for a walk, riding a bike, enjoying nature, taking a shower, reading a book, or enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. Try as many activities as you can and figure out which ones spark joy or help you destress.


Quick Tip #8

Do breathing exercises like box breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, and deep belly breathing. These self-care techniques help promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, enhance sleep quality, and lower blood pressure.


Quick Tip #9

Use self-help tools to check on yourself. Here are some you can use:


Self-Care Kit (Vol. 2) - A Garden of Compassion

  • National Mental Health Crisis (NCMH) USAP Tayo Hotlines
  • 1553
  • 180018881553
  • 09178998727
  • 09086392672


  1. Practice Safe Sex

Part of taking care of your body involves sexual health. Practice safe sex to protect yourself and your partner from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 


Some people may still feel uncomfortable talking about sex. However, you should talk to your partner openly and honestly about sexual health and get tested for STIs regularly. If ever you or your partner is infected, early detection and treatment make a lot of difference.


Quick Tip #10

There’s nothing embarrassing about buying condoms and other forms of contraception. In fact, your partner should be impressed because practicing safe sex makes you responsible and mature. Plus, prioritizing your sexual health is a sign of self-respect and consideration for your partner's well-being.


  1. Do No Harm, Put Safety First

It's important to be aware of your surroundings and potential risks to ensure your safety. At the same time, you must also ensure that your choices don't inadvertently endanger others. This 2024, put proactive safety at the top of your New Year’s resolutions.


Quick Tip #11

Practice situational awareness. Watch out for possible dangers and figure out a way around these situations. If you’re at the beach, for example, you should keep an eye out for rip currents, square waves, and weather changes. Spend some time observing the waters before getting in. make sure you regularly check the skies, too. Storms can escalate swiftly so once you spot a change in the weather, get out of the water immediately and head to safety.


Quick Tip #12

Avoid distractions like phone use while driving. Practice defensive driving and avoid risky behaviors such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Doing so not only puts your life at risk but also endangers the people around you.


Quick Tip #13

Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.7 percent of the 10,012 road traffic deaths in the Philippines were riding two- or three-wheeled vehicles. This figure could’ve been lower if those involved were wearing proper safety gear such as high-quality helmets.


Quick Tip #14

Report violence against women and children. Aside from ensuring your own safety, you should also help others who are in trouble. Women and children who are victims of abuse often can’t fend for themselves. If you happen to know or witness someone being abused, you should first encourage the victim to report to the authorities. To seek help, contact the Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC) Hotline in your area. Other numbers you can call include:


  • Philippine National Police (PNP)

Hotline: 911    

Aling Pulis Text Hotline: 0919-7777-377 / 0966-7255-961

  • National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Hotline: (02) 8525-6028
  • Public Attorney’s Office (DOJ-PAO): (02) 8929-9436 local 106, 107 (local "0" for operator)
  • Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) Makabata Helpline: 0915-8022-375 / 0960-3779-863
  • Civil Service Commission (CSC) - For Government Employees

Public Assistance Desk: (02) 8931-7913 / 8931-8187

Para sa Taumbayan Hotline: (02) 8951-2575 / 8932-0111

By making small changes in your daily life, you can make a big difference in your health and well-being. Remember, it's never too late to develop healthy habits and the start of the new year gives you the perfect opportunity to start living your healthiest life yet!