Picture your life in 2016 with half the stress and double the energy. Who wouldn’t wish for that?
While nearly everyone aims for improved health, it’s no secret that the majority of health-related New Year’s resolutions are unsuccessful. We have a tendency to create resolutions that are too difficult or too complicated—all in the name of obtaining quick, drastic results.
But instead of trying for the quick fix, the new year is the chance to start lifestyle adjustments that are simple and effortless to maintain—so that with time they come to be habits, slowly but surely getting you nearer to optimal health.
The following are five simple resolutions you can employ right now for a healthy 2016.
1. Establish a new health mindset
It’s a common story: you get started on the most recent fad diet and you’re feeling pretty great. Then, a few weeks into the plan, and you have a birthday party to attend. You arrive determined to be accountable, but you can’t resist the cake and ice cream. Diet over.
Giving up in this fashion is a manifestation of an all-or-nothing approach to diet and health. Instead of surrendering when you cheat on your diet, think of your present level of health as sitting someplace along a continuum. Every choice you make moves you closer 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 need to move in the same direction for the rest of the day, week, or month. It’s OK to have that piece of cake every so often, so long as the greater part of your decisions move you towards better health.
Building healthy habits requires a short memory. You will slip-up every so often. What matters is your reaction, and how you’ll work toward making more healthy than unhealthy decisions moving forward.
2. Institute a moderate, balanced diet
Fad diets almost never succeed. The reality is that they are unsustainable, which means that even if they do work in the short-term, you’ll probably just gain back the weight.
Fad diets are all about deprivation of some kind. No carbs, no fats, only 1,000 calories daily. It’s as if I recommended that you’d be more productive on the job if you didn’t check your email for a month. Throughout that month, you would most likely get a lot more work accomplished.
But what would happen at the end of the month? You’d consume the majority of your time reading through emails, catching up, and losing all the efficiency you just achieved.
The same phenomenon pertains to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that people often gain more weight back than they lose after the conclusion of a temporary fad diet.
So what’s the solution?
Moderation. Remember our health continuum? It’s perfectly okay to have a candy bar or a cheeseburger once in awhile. Individual foods are not as important as your overall diet. So long as most of your decisions are healthy, you’re moving down the continuum in the proper direction.
3. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine
If you intend to write a novel, and you force yourself to write the whole thing in one sitting, you’ll never make it to the end. But, if you dedicate yourself to writing one page daily, you’ll have 365 pages to work with at the end of the year.
Everyone is aware that they should be working out. The issue is equivalent to fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing mentality. You purchase a gym membership and pledge to devote to 7 days a week, three hours a day, for the rest of your life. Two weeks in, you skip a few days, cancel your membership, and never go back.
All or nothing. You’re focused on the days you skip 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 to good health.
You can also incorporate physical exercise at work and elsewhere throughout the day. Choose the stairway instead 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 deal with stress:
- Eliminate the source of your stress, if possible
- Reframe the stress into something favorable
- Engage in relaxing activities more often
This will be unique for everybody, but here’s an example of a resolution making use of all three methods.
Eliminate – Some activities and commitments create more stress relative to the benefits acquired. If you discover, for example, that you spend most of your time on social media, but the stress of updating your status supplies little benefit, you might consider ditching your accounts.
Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet stimulating for another? For instance, some people hate public speaking while others cherish it. It is possible, but not easy, to reframe your thoughts of anxiety into positive energy you can use to overcome your fears.
Relax – What do you enjoy doing the most? What is most relaxing to you? Listening to music? Reading? Camping? Meditating? Whatever it is, find ways to clear your schedule to do more of it and the stress will melt away.
5. Schedule regular hearing tests
And finally, think about booking a hearing exam this year. While this may sound trivial, it’s not—one out of 5 people in the US suffers from some amount of hearing loss and most do nothing about it.
Hearing loss has been connected to multiple serious medical conditions, such as depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the continual struggle to hear as a significant source of stress.
Improving your hearing is a great way to reduce stress, reinforce personal relationships, and enhance your overall health and well-being.