New Year’s Resolutions

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

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

But instead of trying for the rapid fix, the new year is an opportunity to establish lifestyle adjustments that are simple and effortless to sustain—so that after a while they come to be habits, slowly but surely bringing you nearer to optimal health.

Here are five simple resolutions you can implement right now for a healthy 2016.

1. Institute a new health mindset

It’s a common story: you get started on the most recent fad diet and you’re feeling really great. Then, a few weeks into the plan, and you have a birthday party to attend. You arrive resolved to be accountable, but you can’t refrain from the cake and ice cream. Diet over.

Quiting in this manner is a sign of an all-or-nothing approach to diet and health. Instead of giving up when you cheat on your diet, view your current level of health as sitting someplace along a continuum. Every choice 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 imply 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, so long as the bulk of your decisions move you towards better health.

Creating healthy habits demands a short memory. You will slip-up every now and then. What counts is your response, and how you’ll plan on making more healthy than unhealthy decisions going forward.

2. Institute a moderate, balanced diet

Fad diets virtually never work. The fact is that they are unsustainable, meaning that even if they do work in the short-term, you’ll likely just gain back the pounds.

Fad diets are focused on deprivation of some type. No sugar, no fats, only 1,000 calories a day. It’s as if I suggested that you’d be more productive at work if you didn’t check your email for a month. Throughout that month, you would most likely get a lot more work done.

But what would take place at the end of the month? You’d commit most of your time reading through emails, catching up, and losing all the efficiency you just achieved.

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

So what’s the remedy?

Moderation. Remember our health continuum? It’s perfectly okay to have a bag of chips or a cheeseburger on occasion. Individual foods are not important—your overall diet is what’s important. As 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 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 daily, you’ll have 365 pages to work with at the end of the year.

Everyone understands they should be working out. The issue is equivalent to fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing mindset. You purchase a gym membership and promise to devote to 7 days a week, two hours a day, for the rest of your life. Two weeks in, you miss a few days, cancel your membership, and never go back.

All or nothing. You’re focusing on the days you miss 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 toward good health.

You can additionally incorporate physical exercise at work and elsewhere throughout the day. Choose 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. Reduce stress

There are essentially 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 frequently

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

Eliminate – certain activities and commitments create more stress relative to the benefits acquired. If you discover, for example, that you spend most of your day on social media, but the stress of updating your status yields little reward, you may think about ditching your accounts.

Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet stimulating for another? For example, some people hate public speaking while others love 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 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 melt away.

5. Schedule routine hearing tests

And finally, consider scheduling a hearing exam this year. While this may seem trivial, 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, including depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the consistent struggle to hear as a significant source of stress.

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