Envision your life in 2016 with half the stress and double the energy. Who wouldn’t want that?
Although almost everyone aims for improved health, it’s no secret that the majority of health-related New Year’s resolutions fail. We tend to create resolutions that are too difficult or too complex—all in the name of acquiring fast, drastic results.
But instead of striving for the quick fix, the new year is an opportunity to start lifestyle adjustments that are simple and effortless to sustain—so that after some time they come to be habits, gradually but surely getting you closer to optimum health.
The following are five straightforward resolutions you can put into practice right away for a healthy 2016.
1. Institute a new health outlook
It’s a recognizable 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 accountable, but you can’t refrain from the cake and ice cream. Diet over.
Quiting in this fashion is a manifestation of an all-or-nothing mindset to diet and health. Instead of surrendering when you cheat on your diet, think of your present level of health as resting somewhere 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 pushed you to the wrong end of the continuum, but that doesn’t imply you have to advance in the same direction for the rest of the day, week, or month. It’s fine to have that piece of cake every so often, so long as the bulk of your decisions move you in the right direction.
Establishing 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 moving forward.
2. Establish a moderate, well-balanced diet
Fad diets practically never work. The truth is that they are not sustainable, meaning that even if they do work in the short term, you’ll likely just gain back the pounds.
Fad diets are focused on deprivation of some sort. No sugar, no fats, only 1,000 calories a day. It’s as if I suggested that you’d be more productive on the job 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 take place at the end of the month? You’d spend most of your time reading through emails, making up ground, and losing all the efficiency you just achieved.
The same phenomenon applies to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that individuals often gain more weight back than they lose after the conclusion of a short-term fad diet.
So what’s the solution?
Moderation. Remember our health continuum? It’s OK to have a bag of chips or a cheeseburger once in awhile. Individual foods are not as important as your overall diet. As 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 want to write a novel, and you force yourself to write the entire thing in one sitting, 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 recognizes they should be working out. The issue is equivalent to fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing attitude. You purchase a gym membership and promise to commit to 7 days a week, three hours a day, for the rest of your life. Two weeks in, you miss a few days, cancel 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 pushes you closer on the continuum to good health.
You can likewise incorporate physical exercise at work and elsewhere during the day. Take the stairway in the place of the elevator, park your car farther away from the store entrance, complete some pushups on your meal break. Each one of these activities tip the balance to good health.
4. Limit stress
There are fundamentally three ways to deal with stress:
- Eliminate the source of your stress, if possible
- Reframe the stress into something positive
- Engage in relaxing activities more often
This will be unique for everybody, but here’s an example of a resolution incorporating all three strategies.
Eliminate – certain activities and obligations produce more stress relative to the benefits received. If you discover, for example, that you spend most of your time on social media, but the stress of updating your status produces little reward, you might consider ditching your accounts.
Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet thrilling for another? As an example, some people loathe 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 subdue your fears.
Relax – What do you love doing the most? What is most relaxing to you? Listening to music? Reading? Hiking? Meditating? Whatever it is, find ways to clear your schedule to do more of it and the stress will disappear.
5. Schedule regular hearing tests
And finally, consider committing to a hearing test this year. While this may sound insignificant, 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, including depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the constant struggle to hear as a major source of stress.
Improving your hearing is an excellent way to minimize stress, reinforce relationships, and improve your all-around health and well-being.