New Year’s Resolutions

Imagine your life in 2016 with half the stress and double the energy. Who wouldn’t wish for that?

Even though nearly everyone aims for improved health, it’s not a secret that most health-related New Year’s resolutions are unsuccessful. We are inclined to create resolutions that are too challenging or too complicated—all in the name of attaining quick, drastic results.

But rather than striving for the quick fix, the new year is the chance to start lifestyle adjustments that are simple and easy to sustain—so that over time they come to be habits, gradually but surely bringing you nearer to optimal health.

Below are five straightforward resolutions you can put into practice right now for a healthy 2016.

1. Institute a new health mindset

It’s a recognizable story: you start the most recent fad diet and you’re feeling really good. Then, a couple of weeks into the program, 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. In the place of quiting when you cheat on your diet, think of your current level of health as resting 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 pushed you to the wrong end of the continuum, but that doesn’t indicate that you have to move in the same direction for the rest of the day, week, or month. It’s OK to have that piece of cake occasionally, as long as the greater part of your decisions move you towards better health.

Implementing healthy habits requires a short memory. You will slip-up every so often. What matters is your response, and how you’ll plan on making more healthy than unhealthy decisions going forward.

2. Institute a moderate, well-balanced diet

Fad diets practically never succeed. The truth is that they are not sustainable, meaning that even if they do work in the short term, you’ll very likely just gain back the weight.

Fad diets are focused on deprivation of some kind. No sugar, no fats, only 1,000 calories daily. It’s as if I suggested that you’d be more productive at the office 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 done.

But what would take place at the close of the month? You’d dedicate most of your time reading through emails, making up ground, and losing all the efficiency you had gained.

The same phenomenon applies to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that people often gain more weight back than they shed after the conclusion of a temporary fad diet.

So what’s the solution?

Moderation. Remember our health continuum? It’s okay to have a bag of chips or a cheeseburger from time to time. Individual foods are not as important as your overall diet. As long as most of your choices are healthy, you’re moving along the continuum in the right direction.

3. Integrate exercise into your daily routine

If you desire to write a novel, and you force yourself to write the whole 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 knows they should be exercising. The problem is the same as with fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing mindset. You invest in a gym membership and vow to devote to 7 days a week, three hours a day, for the remainder of your life. Two weeks in, you miss a few days, deactivate 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 focusing on the days you do go to the gym. Every gym trip pushes you closer on the continuum to good health.

You can additionally incorporate physical activity at work and elsewhere during the day. Choose the stairs in the place of the elevator, park farther away from the store entrance, do some pushups on your meal break. All of these activities tip the balance to good health.

4. Minimize stress

There are in essence three ways to deal with stress:

  1. Eliminate the source of your stress, if possible
  2. Reframe the stress into something beneficial
  3. Participate in relaxing activities more frequently

This will be unique for everyone, but here’s an example of a resolution incorporating all three strategies.

Eliminate – certain activities and obligations produce more stress relative to the benefits obtained. If you discover, for example, that you spend the majority of your day on social media, but the stress of updating your status produces little benefit, you may consider ditching your accounts.

Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet appealing for another? As an example, some people hate public speaking while others cherish it. It is possible, but not easy, to reframe your feelings 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 clear your schedule to do more of it and the stress will disappear.

5. Schedule routine hearing tests

And finally, think about booking a hearing test this year. While this may sound insignificant, 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 has been connected to multiple significant medical conditions, such as depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the consistent struggle to hear as a major source of stress.

Improving your hearing is a great way to minimize stress, strengthen relationships, and improve your all-around health and well-being.