Imagine your life in 2016 with half the stress and double the energy. Who wouldn’t be interested in that?
While practically everyone aspires to better health, it’s not a secret that the majority of health-related New Year’s resolutions fail. We are inclined to establish resolutions that are too difficult or too complicated—all in the name of getting quick, drastic results.
But instead of striving for the rapid fix, the new year is the chance to institute lifestyle adjustments that are simple and easy 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. Develop a new health mindset
It’s a familiar story: you start the latest fad diet and you’re feeling really good. Then, a few weeks into the plan, and you have a birthday party to attend. You show up determined to be responsible, but you can’t resist the cake and ice cream. Diet over.
Giving up in this manner is a manifestation of an all-or-nothing mindset to diet and health. In the place of giving up when you cheat on your diet, think of your current level of health as sitting somewhere along a continuum. Every choice 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 rest of the day, week, or month. It’s OK to have that piece of cake every once in a while, so long as the greater part of your decisions move you in the right direction.
Building healthy habits demands a short memory. You will slip-up every so often. What counts 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 fact is that they are unsustainable, meaning that even if they do work in the short-term, you’ll most likely just gain back the weight.
Fad diets are all about deprivation of some kind. No carbs, no fats, only 1,000 calories a day. It’s like if I suggested that you’d be more productive at the office if you didn’t check your email for a month. During that month, you would most likely get a lot more work accomplished.
But what would materialize at the close of the month? You’d commit most of your time reading through emails, making up ground, and losing all the efficiency you just achieved.
The same phenomenon pertains to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that individuals tend to gain more weight back than they shed after the completion of a short-term fad diet.
So what’s the solution?
Moderation. Remember our health continuum? It’s OK to have a candy bar or a cheeseburger every now and then. Individual foods are not as important as your overall diet. So long as the majority of your decisions are healthy, you’re moving along the continuum in the proper direction.
3. Integrate exercise into your daily routine
If you intend to write a novel, and you make yourself to write the entire thing all at once, you’ll never make it to the end. However, if you commit to writing one page per day, you’ll have 365 pages to work with at the end of the year.
Everyone is aware they should be exercising. The problem is the same as with fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing outlook. You invest in a gym membership and promise 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 return.
All or nothing. You’re focusing on the days you skip going to the gym when you should be focused on the days you do go to the gym. Every gym trip moves you closer on the continuum toward good health.
You can also incorporate physical exercise at work and elsewhere throughout the day. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away from the store entrance, do some pushups on your meal break. All of these activities tip the balance to good health.
4. Reduce stress
There are basically three ways to manage stress:
- Eliminate the source of your stress, if possible
- Reframe the stress into something favorable
- Participate in relaxing activities more often
This will be unique for everyone, but here’s an example of a resolution incorporating all three methods.
Eliminate – certain activities and obligations generate more stress relative to the benefits obtained. If you find, for example, that you spend most of your day on social media, but the stress of updating your status offers little benefit, you may think about ditching your accounts.
Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet appealing for another? As an example, 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 subdue 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 fade away.
5. Schedule regular hearing tests
And finally, consider scheduling a hearing test this year. While this may sound trivial, it’s not — one out of 5 people in the US suffers from some level of hearing loss and most do nothing about it.
Hearing loss is connected to multiple serious medical conditions, such as depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the consistent struggle to hear as a major source of stress.
Improving your hearing is a great way to minimize stress, strengthen relationships, and enhance your all-around health and well-being.