Picture your life in 2016 with half the stress and double the energy. Who wouldn’t be interested in that?
Even though almost everyone aims for better health, it’s not a secret that the majority of health-related New Year’s resolutions fail. We are inclined to create resolutions that are too difficult or too complicated—all in the name of generating fast, extreme results.
But instead of trying for the quick fix, the new year is the chance to establish lifestyle adjustments that are simple and easy to sustain—so that after some time they come to be habits, gradually but surely bringing you closer to optimum health.
The following are five straightforward resolutions you can implement right away for a healthy 2016.
1. Institute a new health outlook
It’s a familiar story: you start 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 go to. You get there resolved to be accountable, but you can’t refrain from the cake and ice cream. Diet over.
Giving up in this fashion is a manifestation of an all-or-nothing attitude to diet and health. Rather than quiting when you cheat on your diet, think of your present level of health as sitting 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 imply you have to move in the same direction for the remainder of the day, week, or month. It’s OK to have that piece of cake on occasion, so long as the bulk of your decisions move you in the right direction.
Building healthy habits demands a short memory. You will slip-up every so often. What matters is your reaction, and how you’ll plan on making more healthy than unhealthy decisions going forward.
2. Establish a moderate, well-balanced diet
Fad diets almost never work. The truth is that they are unsustainable, which means that even if they do work in the short-term, you’ll probably just gain back the pounds.
Fad diets are focused on deprivation of some type. No sugar, no fats, only 1,000 calories daily. It’s like if I suggested that you’d be more productive on the job if you didn’t check your email for a month. In the course of 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 consume the majority of your time reading through emails, making up ground, and losing all the productivity you had gained.
The same phenomenon applies to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that people often 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 perfectly okay to have a candy bar or a cheeseburger once in awhile. Individual foods are not important—your overall diet is what’s important. So long as the majority of your decisions are healthy, you’re moving down the continuum in the proper direction.
3. Combine exercise into your daily routine
If you intend to write a novel, and you make yourself to write the entire thing in one sitting, you’ll never make it to the end. But, 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 is aware they should be working out. The issue is equivalent to fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing mindset. 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 skip a few days, cancel your membership, and never go back.
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 additionally combine physical activity at work and elsewhere during the day. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car farther away from the store entrance, complete some pushups on your lunch break. All of these activities tip the balance to good health.
4. Lessen stress
There are in essence three ways to manage stress:
- Eliminate the source of your stress, if possible
- Reframe the stress into something favorable
- Engage in relaxing activities more frequently
This will be different for everyone, but here’s an example of a resolution incorporating all three strategies.
Eliminate – certain activities and obligations generate more stress relative to the benefits obtained. If you find, for example, that you consume most of your day on social media, but the stress of updating your status produces little benefit, you might think about ditching your accounts.
Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet appealing for another? For example, some people despise 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 love doing the most? What is most relaxing to you? Listening to music? Reading? Hiking? Meditating? Whichever it is, find ways to open 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 test this year. While this may seem trivial, 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 is linked to multiple significant medical conditions, including depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the constant struggle to hear as a significant source of stress.
Improving your hearing is an excellent way to reduce stress, strengthen personal relationships, and enhance your overall health and well-being.