Picture your life in 2016 with half the stress and double the energy. Who wouldn’t want to have that?
While almost everyone aspires to better health, it’s no secret that most health-related New Year’s resolutions are unsuccessful. We tend to set resolutions that are too challenging or too complicated—all in the name of achieving quick, extreme results.
But rather than striving for the rapid fix, the new year is a chance to establish lifestyle adjustments that are simple and easy to maintain—so that with time they become habits, slowly but surely getting you closer to optimal health.
Here are five simple resolutions you can implement right away for a healthy 2016.
1. Institute a new health outlook
It’s a familiar story: you begin the latest fad diet and you’re feeling pretty good. Then, a couple of weeks into the plan, and you have a birthday party to attend. You arrive resolved to be responsible, but you can’t resist the cake and ice cream. Diet over.
Quiting in this fashion is a symptom of an all-or-nothing approach to diet and health. In the place of surrendering when you cheat on your diet, view your current level of health as resting someplace along a continuum. Every decision you make moves you nearer to one end (good health) or the other end (poor health).
The cake and ice cream moved you to the wrong end of the continuum, but that doesn’t mean you have to move in the same direction for the remainder of the day, week, or month. It’s okay to have that piece of cake on occasion, as long as the bulk of your decisions move you towards better health.
Building healthy habits demands a short memory. You will slip-up every now and then. What matters is your response, and how you’ll plan on making more healthy than unhealthy decisions going forward.
2. Institute a moderate, well-balanced diet
Fad diets almost never work. The reality is that they are unsustainable, meaning that even if they do work in the short-term, you’ll most likely just regain the weight.
Fad diets are focused on deprivation of some type. No carbs, no fats, only 1,000 calories per day. It’s like if I proposed that you’d be more productive at work if you didn’t check your email for a month. Throughout that month, you would probably get a lot more work done.
But what would take place at the close of the month? You’d dedicate the majority of your time reading through emails, making up ground, and losing all the productivity you had achieved.
The same phenomenon applies to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that individuals tend to gain more weight back than they lose after the conclusion of a short-term fad diet.
So what’s the solution?
Moderation. Remember the health continuum? It’s okay to have a candy bar or a cheeseburger from time to time. Individual foods are not as important as your overall diet. So long as the majority of your choices are healthy, you’re moving along the continuum in the proper direction.
3. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine
If you desire to write a novel, and you force yourself to write the whole thing in one sitting, you’ll never make it to the end. However, if you dedicate yourself to writing one page per day, you’ll have 365 pages to work with at the end of the year.
Everyone understands they should be exercising. The problem is equivalent to fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing attitude. You purchase a gym membership and vow to devote to 7 days a week, two hours a day, for the rest of your life. Two weeks in, you miss a few days, deactivate your membership, and never go back.
All or nothing. You’re focusing on the days you miss going to the gym when you should be focusing on the times you do go to the gym. Every gym trip moves you closer on the continuum toward good health.
You can additionally combine physical exercise at work and elsewhere during the day. Take the stairs in the place of the elevator, park farther away from the store entrance, complete some pushups on your lunch break. All of these activities tip the balance to good health.
4. Minimize stress
There are in essence three ways to manage stress:
- Eliminate the source of your stress, if possible
- Reframe the stress into something positive
- Engage in relaxing activities more frequently
This will be unique for everyone, but here’s an example of a resolution making use of all three strategies.
Eliminate – certain activities and responsibilities create more stress relative to the benefits gained. If you notice, for example, that you consume most of your day on social media, but the stress of updating your status offers little benefit, you may consider ditching your accounts.
Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet appealing for another? For instance, some people despise public speaking while others cherish it. It is possible, but not easy, to reframe your feelings of anxiety into positive energy you can use to conquer your fears.
Relax – What do you love doing the most? What is most relaxing to you? Listening to music? Reading? Camping? Meditating? Whatever it is, find ways to open your schedule to do more of it and the stress will fade away.
5. Schedule routine hearing tests
And finally, consider committing to a hearing exam this year. While this may sound insignificant, it’s not—one out of 5 people in the US suffers from some degree of hearing loss and most do nothing about it.
Hearing loss has been linked to several significant medical conditions, such as depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the consistent struggle to hear as a significant source of stress.
Enhancing your hearing is a great way to reduce stress, strengthen relationships, and enhance your general health and well-being.