It’s that time again: the New Year is upon us, and after all of the celebrations have waned, it will once again be time to think about how you can improve your life in the year to come. One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is for a healthier lifestyle, but the fact is that many do not stick to the (often vague or unrealistic) goals they set for themselves.
If you’ve ever struggled to stick to your resolutions for a healthier New Year, you can understand this dilemma. Many people go in with resolutions like, “this year, I’ll finally get in shape!” but fail to set concrete goals for themselves, making it difficult to accomplish this practically. What does it even mean to “get in shape?” Do you want to lose a specific amount of weight? Or perform a specific athletic feat, such as running a marathon or doing a certain number of pull-ups? Or do you just want to live a healthier lifestyle?
The fact is, if you want to truly commit to better health and wellness in the New Year, you don’t have to overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations. Nor do you need to spend tons of money on exercise equipment that will eventually gather dust, and sessions with a personal trainer that you’ll meet with only a few times. While there’s nothing wrong, of course, with exercise equipment or personal trainers, you shouldn’t put the cart before the horse. Keep it simple!
Here are five simple (read: easy to stick to) New Year’s resolutions for a healthier 2020:
Get More Sleep
Here’s a New Year’s resolution that most people should be making, whether they are elite athletes or trying to get in shape for the first time. The fact is that about 51 percent of adults worldwide simply don’t get as much sleep as they need. Note that this isn’t just in the United States; this study reports on a worldwide phenomenon. A full eighty percent of adults also report on using their valuable weekend time to make up for lost sleep. Even so, sleep is critical to health; your body needs sleep to recover from exercise, and repair damaged muscle tissue. If you are trying to lose weight, meet athletic goals, or simply become healthier, you must get more sleep.
We tend to self-sabotage when it comes to sleep, however. Too much caffeine and other stimulants, combined with a busy lifestyle, makes it difficult to keep a regular sleep schedule. Many people try to get back on track with sleep aids; there are plenty of sleep medications and over the counter NSAIDS that can be purchased. However, these can affect your sleeping schedule just as much as stimulants can, as it’s possible to become dependent on them.
For most people, it’s far better to skip all of the medications and take a few steps to get your sleep schedule back on track. Try to make sure you go to bed at the same time every night, as this will help you maintain a regular schedule. Instead of using drugs, switch to a few drops of a high-quality CBD oil at night. This lacks the habit-forming qualities of sleep medication, but will simply help to relax you and put your mind and body at ease, so that you can get more, better quality sleep, no matter how busy your schedule may be.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of fad diets, with advocates of each one claiming that theirs is the best for health and wellness. Some of them are reasonable, and others veer towards the extreme, forcing you to carefully count each and every calorie your body takes in. Unless you are a competitive athlete, or you have a particular medical condition that necessitates it, it is probably not necessary for you to undergo one of these extreme diets. You don’t have to measure the exact quantities of protein, fat, and carbohydrates your body is taking in, nor do you need to live on a diet of only juice for days at a time.
Just focus on eating clean and healthy: see to it that the majority of your intake is clean fruits and vegetables. Eat all the colors of the rainbow; look for fruit and veggies that are green, red, purple, orange and yellow. Buy organic whenever possible. Avoid processed foods or anything with a great deal of sugar or salt. Stop drinking soda (or any liquid with more than zero calories). If you just do this, you’ll see results and you won’t have to count your calories. You can even treat yourself every once in a while!
Quit the Gym
Millions of people pay for gym memberships that they end up not using. In fact, huge chain gyms depend on customers signing up right around the time of the New Year, only to end up going to the gym only a couple of times. Then they give up but continue to pay the membership, costing them tons of money while not contributing in any way towards their overall health. Why do people struggle so much to achieve their fitness goals? Perhaps it’s because they refer to their efforts to get in shape as “working out.”
In 2020, stop working out! That is to say, stop mindlessly visiting the gym just to throw a few weights around. That’s not to say you shouldn’t remain active; you absolutely should. However, don’t think of it as “working out,” as in, exercise just for the sake of exercise. Instead, you should set meaningful goals for yourself and only do physical activity you enjoy.
For example, instead of a few miles on a stationary exercise bike, get yourself a real bicycle and get out in nature. Or, if you happen to enjoy a particular sport, make that sport your primary form of physical activity. If you do decide to head to a gym to lift weights, you won’t be “working out,” you’ll be training for your favorite activity!
Turn Off Your Devices
It seems like everyone these days is glued to their devices, constantly spending their free time gazing into screens. Don’t worry; this article isn’t going to be a diatribe against smartphones and tablets. Used wisely, that technology is a useful tool, but that’s all it should be: a tool.
In other words, it’s excellent that your phone has a camera attached to it. It helps you to create memories at times when it would have been difficult before. However, studies have shown that people who spend most of their time watching an event through a phone as they try to photograph or film it, are less likely to remember that event at all!
You don’t have to get rid of your devices and stop playing video games or using social media. Just try to cut down on screen time, and be more present in real-life experiences.
Less Drama, More Zen
Here’s one that sounds simple on the face of it, but is usually one of the most difficult of all. Reduce drama in your life. Sounds easy, right? But if it is so simple, why do many people struggle with it so much? The fact is that many people seem to be addicted to stress and drama, and they tend to be a source of it without even realizing.
There are a few steps you can take, however, to cut down on the drama in your life. First: a great deal of misunderstanding and unhappiness is caused by poor communication. Many people have the best intentions when they do this, but it’s important to be honest and direct with people. For example, if you have a friend who has hurt your feelings with their words or behavior, don’t keep it to yourself and let the resentment fester. Don’t talk about it behind their back with your other friends, either. Simply tell them, as directly as you can, that they have hurt your feelings and why. If they are real friends, they will be just as honest and direct with you in return. If they respond poorly, it may be that you have an unhealthy relationship with the person, and you may need to reconsider spending time with them. Of course, this is a difficult thing to do, but it’s usually the last resort anyway. Most relationships will become much healthier through effective communication.
It also helps to consider the bigger picture when you are having a problem. Will the thing that’s stressing you out matter in ten years? How about one year? How about a week? Most of the problems that we face in life, while they often seem insurmountable at the time, are very temporary, and it helps to have that view when dealing with a difficult situation.
Finally, reduce the drama in your life by making the decision to be above gossip. You’d be horrified to find out your friends were complaining about you behind your back, so you shouldn’t be doing the same to them. If people try to complain about your friends to you, simply shut it down immediately and change the subject to something else. Soon enough, people will begin to think of you as someone who never says a bad word about anyone.
Here’s to a Great Year
Even if you only try a single one of these, you will be able to make an impact on your health. That boost, both from improved health and the satisfaction of achieving something good for yourself, can propel you toward more healthy changes. Enjoy the momentum, and make 2020 your best year yet!