New Year’s Resolutions

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

Although almost everyone aims for improved health, it’s no secret that the majority of health-related New Year’s resolutions are unsuccessful. We have a tendency to set resolutions that are too difficult or too complicated—all in the name of generating rapid, extreme results.

But instead of trying for the rapid fix, the new year is the chance to start lifestyle adjustments that are simple and effortless to sustain—so that over time they become habits, slowly but surely getting you nearer to optimum health.

Here are five simple resolutions you can employ right away for a healthy 2016.

1. Establish a new health mindset

It’s a familiar story: you get started on the latest fad diet and you’re feeling really good. Then, a couple of weeks into the plan, and you have a birthday party to go to. You arrive resolved to be responsible, but you can’t refrain from the cake and ice cream. Diet over.

Quiting in this manner is a symptom of an all-or-nothing approach to diet and health. Instead of giving up when you cheat on your diet, view your present level of health as sitting somewhere 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 need to advance in the same direction for the remainder of the day, week, or month. It’s okay to have that piece of cake every so often, provided that the bulk of your decisions move you towards better health.

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

2. Establish a moderate, balanced diet

Fad diets virtually never work. 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 all about deprivation of some type. No sugar, no fats, only 1,000 calories each day. It’s like if I proposed that you’d be more productive on the job if you didn’t check your email for a month. During that month, you would most likely get a lot more work done.

But what would happen at the end of the month? You’d commit the majority of your time reading through emails, catching up, and losing all the efficiency you had gained.

The same phenomenon pertains to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that people often gain more weight back than they lose after the completion 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 every now and then. Individual foods are not important—your overall diet is what’s important. So long as the majority of your choices are healthy, you’re moving down the continuum in the proper direction.

3. Include exercise into your daily routine

If you want to write a novel, and you make yourself to write the entire thing all at once, you’ll never make it to the end. But, 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 working out. The issue is the same as with fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing mentality. You buy a gym membership and vow to commit to 7 days a week, two hours a day, for the remainder of your life. Two weeks in, you skip a few days, cancel your membership, and never return.

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. Each gym trip moves you closer on the continuum toward good health.

You can additionally combine physical exercise at work and elsewhere during the day. Choose the stairway in the place of the elevator, park your car farther away from the store entrance, complete some pushups on your meal break. Each one of these activities tip the balance to good health.

4. Lower stress

There are fundamentally three ways to cope with stress:

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

This will be unique for everybody, but here’s an example of a resolution making use of all three methods.

Eliminate – certain activities and commitments create more stress relative to the benefits acquired. If you discover, for example, that you consume the majority of your time on social media, but the stress of updating your status produces little reward, you may consider ditching your accounts.

Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet exciting for another? For example, some people loathe 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 defeat your fears.

Relax – What do you enjoy doing the most? What is most relaxing to you? Listening to music? Reading? Camping? Meditating? Whichever it is, find ways to open your schedule to do more of it and the stress will fade away.

5. Schedule regular hearing tests

And finally, consider scheduling a hearing test this year. While this may seem 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 several significant medical conditions, including depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the continual struggle to hear as a major source of stress.

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

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