New Year’s Resolutions

Picture your life in 2016 with half the stress and double the energy. Who wouldn’t want to have that?

While virtually everyone aims for better health, it’s not a secret that most health-related New Year’s resolutions are unsuccessful. We have the tendency to create resolutions that are too difficult or too complicated—all in the name of acquiring quick, drastic results.

But instead of striving for the quick fix, the new year is the chance to institute lifestyle adjustments that are simple and easy to maintain—so that after a while they become habits, slowly but surely getting you nearer to optimum health.

The following are five simple resolutions you can put into practice right away for a healthy 2016.

1. Establish a new health outlook

It’s a recognizable story: you get started on the most recent fad diet and you’re feeling really great. Then, a few weeks into the program, and you have a birthday party to attend. You get there determined to be accountable, but you can’t resist the cake and ice cream. Diet over.

Quiting in this fashion is a manifestation of an all-or-nothing approach to diet and health. In the place of surrendering when you cheat on your diet, imagine your present level of health as resting someplace along a continuum. Every decision you make pushes 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 advance in the same direction for the rest of the day, week, or month. It’s OK to have that piece of cake from time to time, provided that the bulk of your decisions move you towards better health.

Implementing healthy habits requires a short memory. You will slip-up every now and then. What counts is your response, and how you’ll work toward making more healthy than unhealthy decisions moving forward.

2. Institute a moderate, balanced diet

Fad diets practically never succeed. The truth is that they are unsustainable, which means that even if they do work in the short-term, you’ll very likely just regain 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 proposed that you’d be more productive at work 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 materialize at the end of the month? You’d dedicate most of your time reading through emails, catching up, and losing all the productivity you had gained.

The same phenomenon applies to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that individuals tend to gain more weight back than they lose after the conclusion of a short-term fad diet.

So what’s the remedy?

Moderation. Remember our health continuum? It’s okay to have a candy bar or a cheeseburger every so often. Individual foods are not as important as your overall diet. So long as most of your choices are healthy, you’re moving down the continuum in the right direction.

3. Include exercise into your daily routine

If you desire to write a novel, and you make yourself to write the whole thing in one sitting, 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 equivalent to fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing outlook. You invest in a gym membership and promise 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, cancel your membership, and never return.

All or nothing. You’re focusing on the days you miss going to the gym when you should be focusing on the times you do go to the gym. Every gym trip moves you closer on the continuum toward good health.

You can additionally incorporate physical exercise at work and elsewhere throughout the day. Take the stairway instead of the elevator, park your car farther away from the store entrance, complete some pushups on your meal break. All of these activities tip the balance to good health.

4. Decrease stress

There are fundamentally three ways to deal with stress:

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

This will be different for everybody, but here’s an example of a resolution incorporating all three methods.

Eliminate – Some activities and commitments produce more stress relative to the benefits acquired. If you discover, for instance, that you spend the majority of your time on social media, but the stress of updating your status produces little reward, you might think about ditching your accounts.

Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet thrilling for another? As an 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 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 open your schedule to do more of it and the stress will melt away.

5. Schedule routine hearing tests

And finally, think about committing to a hearing exam this year. While this may seem trivial, it’s not—one out of 5 people in the US suffers from some level of hearing loss and most do nothing about it.

Hearing loss is linked to multiple serious medical conditions, such as depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the constant struggle to hear as a major source of stress.

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

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