It’s no surprise that the most common New Year’s Resolution is “to lose weight.” But here, we like to think that weight loss is more like a benign side effect of implementing healthy habits, not the primary goal. So instead of bombarding you with more information about “how to reach your weight loss goals in 2017,” we want to provide you with 10 New Year’s Resolutions you can choose from that will help give your health and happiness a boost this year.
1. Give back.
We love this one because the benefits of giving are two-fold. The person, group, or organization you give to is grateful for your help, and you get to feel good for your contribution. When you perform a kind act, your body actually releases oxytocin, a hormone that increases feelings of trust and connectedness, and overall, just makes us feel good. The act can be small, like holding the elevator door for someone, or big, like a making a donation to your favorite charity.
2. Spend more time with friends and family.
You might find that you’ve gotten into a routine of wake up, go to work, come home, have dinner, watch TV, go to bed (I’m sure bathtime and storytime fall in there too if you have young kids). We’ve all gotten stuck in that cycle. In this cycle it’s all too easy to let time with loved ones fall to the wayside, even if it’s something you really want to do. Make a point to get some dates on the schedule, so you have some time set aside well in advance for those you love most.
3. Try a digital diet.
Facebook, Instagram, email, TV, or text, we are all guilty of overindulging in these digital pastimes. But the fact is, we likely spend way more time engaging with digital media than we think we do. Try setting some parameters around your media usage, and see how much time you have leftover to do things you want to do in the real world, like get outside or spend time with friends and family.
4. Read more books.
With social media and email, it’s easy to feel like you’re reading quite a bit, but there still is nothing like indulging in a full story from start to finish. Reading fiction, particularly, helps to relieve stress, improve sleep, and and boost creativity, amongst other things. The great thing about reading is that you can fly solo and read at your own pace, or join a book club.
5. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.
I know we’ve said it before, but we have to say it again! It’s one of the simplest healthy-eating resolutions to make. Add a fruit and or vegetable to every meal and automatically increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while promoting feelings of fullness and satisfaction. Start with fruits and veggies that you love, and then be open to experimenting with those that you often neglect in the produce aisle!
6. Develop a morning ritual.
If your mornings feel frantic and rushed, it might be time to develop a manageable morning routine. This could include some exercise, or just a few minutes of stretching, a tall glass of water and a healthy breakfast, or you can pick just one of these activities to focus on in the morning. Something that gives you at least a few minutes to start the day with a clean slate.
7. Improve the quality of your sleep.
Easier said than done, we know. But there are a few simple steps you can take to improve sleep quality, and therefore get the recommended 7-9 hours per night. Just like you can develop a morning ritual, it’s important to develop a bedtime ritual as well. This can be an elaborate bubble bath with some reading before slipping into your pajamas, or the simple step of turning off your cell phone before hitting the pillow.
8. Spend more time outside.
Even though this might be more difficult in the winter, the sunshine and fresh air are like fuel for our body and brain. Taking some time outside, whether it be for a walk, hike, run, or bike ride, can help us reset and reconnect with our bodies and the world around us. And who doesn’t need more of that?
9. Keep a one sentence journal.
Maybe you’ve set a goal of keeping a journal in the past, and if you’ve tried it, you know it’s not an easy habit to maintain. But here’s one that is: a one-sentence journal. This means that everyday you just write down one (or two) sentences. It could be something that you’re grateful for, something exciting that happened, or something you are looking forward to. It could even be something totally mundane! This could become part of your morning or evening routine.
10. Say yes to more fun.
Let’s face it, obligations take priority. We can’t say “no” to taking our kids to school, going to work, or doing the laundry. But we do have the power to say “yes” to more fun! If you find yourself declining invitations because you just don’t have the time, see if you can carve out a few hours a week or month to more fun. And remember, we all have a different definition of fun, so make sure to find activities that are fun for you.
If you’re excited to try one of these resolutions, but not sure how to get started, make sure to read our post on how to set SMART New Year’s resolutions. This post offers simple tricks to making sure your resolution sticks this year.