Simple New Years Resolutions That You Can Actually Keep
Dr. Paul Hrkal
It’s halfway through January and I hope your New Year’s resolutions are in full swing. You may have noticed that the gym is packed and the yoga studio is a tighter squeeze. While I am a big fan of resolving to live a healthier life, I think New Year’s resolutions usually don’t last, leaving us frustrated. I wanted to give you some simple resolutions that you will actually keep and will improve your health on multiple levels.
The key to successful resolutions is keeping them simple and achievable. This will increase your chance to actually stick with the changes you want to make. Start with small steps before jumping to lofty goals. Also, challenge yourself to be healthier not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit. We need to respect all aspects of who we are and not ignore essential parts of what makes us truly healthy.
1) Sweat more – This resolution seems simple but it actually covers a lot of key bases. Instead of resolving to exercise more, make a commitment doing something that gets your sweaty at least once a week. This could be doing a spin class at the gym, going for a run, lifting weights, or doing a yoga class. It can also be something very simple such as climbing a flight of stairs or going for a brisk walk. It will be different for each person but just as powerful. We often are reluctant to get sweaty but it’s our body’s way to eliminate toxins and promote circulation. Don’t be afraid to sweat this year!
2) Eat less – All of us have tried eating less in an effort to shed some of those pounds we accumulated over the holidays. However, something so simple can be very helpful not just in cutting back on the extra calories but also promoting longevity. Studies have found that organisms that eat less live longer. Recent evidence shows that this approach promotes brain function and improves blood sugar control. Most North Americans over-eat, so don’t fall into that trap this year and resolve to cut down your portions by as little as 20%. It doesn’t require calorie counting or weighing your food, just serve less food on your plate then you usually do.
3) Vent more – We can’t avoid getting irritated or angry. It can happen, especially when we are stressed and tired. The key thing is what we do with that anger when we experience it. A recent study found those people that internalized anxiety ran the risk of an elevated pulse, which increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and other ailments. This year resolve to become more aware of when you are angry and then do something to help calm you down. This can be something like conscious deep-breathing, exercise or even try martial arts or yoga. Of course, talk therapy is a powerful way to deal with unpleasant or unwanted emotions, so connecting with a psychotherapist or psychologist may be right for you.
4) Sleep more – Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to maintain good health. Numerous studies have found that sleep improves immunity, increases the ability to cope with stress, and improves weight loss by cutting cravings. I often tell patients that the single, most powerful change you can make to improve your health is to go to bed one hour earlier. There are so many health benefits from making this simple resolution. Also, think about turning off your cell phone at least an hour before bed, avoiding heavy meals late at night, and try to keep your bedroom as dark as possible for optimum sleep.
5) Be silent more – Just as you have to exercise regularly to build your muscle you have to also prioritize time to build your mind and spirit. The problem is that we are so used to getting things done by doing more, rather than slowing down and doing less. Taking the time to meditate, pray or just be silent is one of the most difficult things to do for most people. However, once you make it a habit it becomes the most rewarding self-care you can offer yourself. I challenge you to start with just 3 minutes a day. A simple technique involves breath awareness. Here’s what you do; chose a quite and comfortable space to sit. Close your eyes and bring your attention to the breath. Inhale slowly through the nostrils, paying close attention to how the breath feels inside the nose. Then exhale through the mouth. Repeat this for the duration of the 3 minutes. With time and practice, you will notice this gets easier and you will be able to sit for longer.
Making and keeping New Year’s resolutions does not have to be difficult. Implement these 5 simple changes and maintain them, even if you start by doing each one once a week. Remember, the road to failure is littered with good intentions. Make your 2020 resolutions simple and sustainable.
Have a healthy and happy New Year!
Dr Paul Hrkal and the PWC team