A new year often signifies a fresh start for many people. For some, this means setting health goals, such as losing weight, following a healthier diet, and starting an exercise routine.
However, more often than not, the health and wellness resolutions chosen are highly restrictive and unsustainable, leading most people to break their resolutions within a few weeks. This is why many people make the same resolutions year after year. To break that cycle, it is important to make resolutions that can not only improve health but also be followed for life.
Eat more whole foods
One of the easiest and most sustainable ways to improve overall health is to eat more whole foods. Whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish, contain a plethora of nutrients that your body needs to function at an optimal level.
Research shows that following a whole-foods-based diet may significantly reduce heart disease risk factors, body weight, and blood sugar levels, as well as decrease your risk of certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. What’s more, adding more whole foods to your diet can be done slowly and consistently. For example, if you are not used to eating vegetables, start by adding one serving of your favorite veggie to your diet every day.
Sit less and move more
Whether it is due to having a sedentary job or simply being inactive, many people sit more than they should. Sitting too much can have negative effects on health. In fact, it may be linked to an increased risk of overall mortality.
Making a resolution to sit less is an easy and attainable resolution that can be tailored to fit your lifestyle. For example, if you have a desk job that requires long periods of sitting, make a resolution to go for a 15-minute walk at lunch or to get up and walk for 5 minutes every hour. Cut back on sweetened beverages – Cutting back on sweetened beverages is a smart idea considering that sugary drinks are linked to an increased risk of obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cavities in both children and adults.
Though quitting sweetened beverages cold turkey is always an option, gradually minimizing your intake may help you kick your sugary drink habit for good. Get more quality sleep – Sleep is an essential part of overall health, and sleep deprivation can lead to serious consequences. For instance, lack of sleep may increase your risk of weight gain, heart disease, and depression.
There are many reasons why people do not get enough sleep, so it is important to focus on your schedule and lifestyle to determine the best ways to improve sleep quantity and quality.
Decreasing screen time before bed, reducing light pollution in your bedroom, cutting back on caffeine, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour are some simple ways to improve sleep hygiene.
Find a physical activity that you enjoy
Every New Year, people purchase memberships to gyms and online fitness programs in hopes of shedding excess body fat in the year to come. Though most people start strong, the majority do not make their new routine into a lasting habit.
Still, you can increase the chances of making your fitness resolutions stick. To get started, choose an activity based on enjoyment and whether it fits into your schedule. For example, taking a half-hour walk, jog, or bike ride before work, or joining the gym with a friend to hold you accountable, are simple and sustainable exercise resolutions.
Then, set an attainable goal, such as planning to walk a few specific days per week instead of aiming for every day. Making a more realistic goal can enhance the chances of making your new routine last, especially if you are new to working out.
Take more ‘me time’ and practice self-care
Taking time for yourself is not selfish. In fact, it is imperative for optimal health and wellbeing. This is especially true for those in caretaker roles, such as parents and healthcare workers. For people with busy schedules and limited time, making a resolution to engage in self-care may take some planning. However, it is well worth the time investment. Self-care does not have to be elaborate or time consuming. It can simply mean taking a bath every week, attending your favorite weekly yoga class, preparing a healthy meal for yourself, going for a walk in nature, or getting an extra hour of sleep.
Limit screen time
Many people depend on their phones and computers for work and entertainment. However, spending too much time on electronic devices — particularly on social media — has been linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness in some studies. Setting a resolution to cut back on the time you spend scrolling through social media, watching TV, or playing computer games may help boost your mood and enhance productivity. Visit your doctor – Getting examined regularly by your healthcare practitioner is important for many reasons. Having regular blood work and necessary screenings can help spot potential problems before they turn into something more serious. Though your pace of doctor’s visits depends on many things, including the type of medical care, your age, and your medical history, most experts recommend seeing your primary care physician at least once a year for a checkup.
Though most New Year’s resolutions are only kept for a short period, the healthy resolutions listed above are sustainable ways to improve your physical and emotional health that can be followed for life. Creating a healthier relationship with food and taking better care of your body and mind can drastically improve your health in various ways.