New Year’s Resolutions

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

Although nearly everyone aims for improved health, it’s no secret that most health-related New Year’s resolutions are unsuccessful. We have a tendency to establish resolutions that are too difficult or too complex—all in the name of gaining rapid, drastic results.

But in place of trying for the rapid fix, the new year is a chance to institute lifestyle modifications that are simple and easy to maintain—so that after a while they come to be habits, gradually but surely getting you nearer to optimum health.

Here are five straightforward resolutions you can put into practice right now for a healthy 2016.

1. Establish a new health outlook

It’s a familiar story: you start the most recent fad diet and you’re feeling pretty good. Then, a few weeks into the program, and you have a birthday party to go to. 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 symptom of an all-or-nothing attitude to diet and health. Rather than quiting when you cheat on your diet, imagine your current level of health as resting at one point along a continuum. Every decision you make pushes you closer 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 mean you have to advance in the same direction for the remainder of the day, week, or month. It’s OK to have that piece of cake every now and then, providing the majority of your decisions move you towards better health.

Implementing healthy habits calls for 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 almost never work. The reality is that they are not sustainable, which means 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 kind. No sugar, no fats, only 1,000 calories each day. It’s like if I recommended that you’d be more productive at the office 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 close of the month? You’d devote the majority of your time reading through emails, catching up, and losing all the productivity you just achieved.

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

So what’s the remedy?

Moderation. Remember our health continuum? It’s perfectly okay to have a candy bar 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 along the continuum in the proper direction.

3. Include exercise into your daily routine

If you desire to write a novel, and you make yourself to write the entire thing in one sitting, you’ll never make it to the end. But, if you dedicate yourself to writing one page per day, you’ll have 365 pages to work with at the end of the year.

Everyone is aware that they should be working out. The issue is the same as with fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing outlook. 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, deactivate 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 pushes you closer on the continuum toward good health.

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

4. Lessen stress

There are primarily three ways to manage 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 different for everybody, but here’s an example of a resolution making use of all three methods.

Eliminate – certain activities and commitments generate more stress relative to the benefits gained. If you notice, for example, that you spend the majority of your time on social media, but the stress of updating your status yields little benefit, you might think about ditching your accounts.

Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet exhilarating for another? For example, some people dread 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? Camping? Meditating? Whichever it is, find ways to open your schedule to do more of it and the stress will disappear.

5. Schedule routine hearing tests

And finally, think about scheduling a hearing exam this year. While this may sound 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 several serious medical conditions, including depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the consistent struggle to hear as a major source of stress.

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