5 New Year’s Resolutions That Work for Me
Take time out to enjoy the simple things in life—and you'll start to look at things in a more positive way...and be happier overall.
It's about that time of January when resolutions to live healthier start to waver a bit. I find that breaking down big resolutions like "Lose weight", "Eat healthier", and "Exercise every day" into small, more do-able resolutions helps you stick to your resolutions by making them more manageable.
Here are some do-able healthy habits that I put into place in my own life that get results. I hope they help to inspire you, too.
1) Eat more colorful fruits and vegetables. One simple way to eat healthier is to simply pack more nutrients into every meal. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like fiber as well as powerful health-promoting antioxidants. The deeper the color of a fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it contains. Antioxidants have been shown to help keep your immune system healthy—and ward off diseases like cancer and chronic conditions like heart disease. In fact, some studies have shown that people who eat fewer antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are at greater risk for developing disease.
Some simple ways to pack more antioxidants into every bite: add blueberries or raspberries to your cereal in the morning or to your morning smoothie; snack on fruits and veggies like red or green pepper strips, orange slices, or red grapes; add spinach to your salad or stir a handful into a pot of soup. Simple tweaks do make a big difference.
2) Do just 5 minutes of exercise every day. Don't beat yourself up if you don't make it to the gym for a power workout every day. Start by doing just five minutes of exercise: do simple weights and/or stretches when you wake up in the morning, do situps or yoga stretches while you're watching TV, jump rope for 5 minutes before work…whatever you can do, try it. What you'll find is that by doing a little bit every day, you'll be more motivated to stick to a healthy exercise plan for the long run. And you may even be more motivated to fit in a bigger workout.
3) Take time out to sit in silence every day. Daily stress wreaks havoc on our health: it can trigger us to eat unhealthy foods, be too tired to put into place healthy habits like exercise, cause us to lose sleep at night, and literally make us sick. But taking time to sit in silence every day to bring your stressed thoughts back to calm is so important—and doesn't take a great deal of effort. Just turn off your phone, shut off your TV or computer, and shut your door. Every time your thoughts stray to the crazy to-do list you have, simply bring them back to a peaceful image in your mind. This, in essence, is what meditation is.
4) Spend more time with family and friends. Researchers believe that socializing reduces stress, which can wreak havoc on our immune function and make us sick. While Facebook is a great way to stay in touch, it's not the same as in-person socializing: so make it a point to spend time with family and friends every day.
"Study after study shows that having strong social ties is critical to keeping our hearts healthy, making us less susceptible to colds, helping us sleep better, and to preventing chronic disease."
5) Stay positive! Don't let negative thoughts creep into your mind: it's the first thing that happens when resolutions start to fall off track. Look at life from a glass-half-full perspective—and you'll find that you'll be happier and will be able to better endure setbacks—which happen to all of us. You'll also be healthier: One study[ii] found that people who are cheerful and positive in the face of stress have lower levels of inflammation in the body. Failing to maintain a positive, happy outlook had the opposite effect: elevated levels of disease-triggering inflammation, particularly in women.
Put these resolutions into place today—along with any you've already committed to—and you'll find that you'll start to get results.
"Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype," The Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health;http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/
[ii] "Affective Reactivity to Daily Stressors Is Associated With Elevated Inflammation," Nancy L. Sin, Jennifer E. Graham-Engleland, Anthony D. Ong, et al., Health Psychology, June 1, 2015; http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/hea0000240