By Lisa Mildon
Every New Year is usually the same. We make unreasonable or even unattainable goals, mostly dealing with our weight. While keeping a healthy weight is advisable to avoid other health issues, New Year’s resolutions don’t always have to be concerned with such goals.
The term “resolution” seems to connotate a temporary objective. Instead, let’s refer to them as goals. Goals, for many, is a mindful intention, something achievable and with an end in sight. While some of your goals may be an ongoing activity, reaching that goal gives you something to work towards. Below are some ideas for achievable intentions:
1. Get healthy. While this is a lofty goal there are some solid ideas behind it. Consider what it means to you to get healthy. Does it require some weight loss? Do you want to run a half marathon this summer? Do you need to take more self-care by having a de-stressing hour each day?
2. More self-care. In our workaholic society, we’re driven to keep slogging away in the proverbial rat race. Our society sees downtime as selfish while working 50+ hours a week is admirable. This concept is just plain unhealthy. While some may not be able to trim back their work hours due to finances, if you’re able, try taking more time for yourself. Create a goal to read 1 book a month, or try out a new wine. Explore more leisurely activities to give your body and soul some much-needed rest. Even consider some time out in nature. Studies have shown that spending some time outside not only helps us destress, but can also help with coping with pain. (How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?, n.d.)
3. Try new things. Expanding our horizons livens up our lives in so many ways. By trying a new hobby, a new art project, or even meeting new people aid in reducing cognitive decline. Experiencing new activities or learning a new language helps create new connections to brain cells, thus effectively slowing down the decline. (Harvard Health, 2015)
4. Meet new people. As stated earlier, even meeting new people, making new friends improves brain function, but did you know that scientists found it to increase your lifespan? Research has found that being social decreases an inflammatory factor that is associated with many health issues such as cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, among others. (Research Suggests a Positive Correlation between Social Interaction and Health, n.d.) Even getting a new furry buddy such as a cat or dog, has been known to reduce systolic blood pressure.
Now that you have some ideas of what to focus on, how do you tackle this daunting task? Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, but did you know that by February, 80% of those goals fail? (Luciani, 2015) Rather than set yourself up for failure, try these tips below:
1. Make a plan. What do you want to accomplish? Write down those goals. This way, you can take each one and truly make them workable for you. Know what you really want and\or need.
2. Take one of your goals and break it down into smaller bites. If you want to get physically fit, don’t make a challenging goal of doing cardio 6 days a week. Build up to something more realistic and feasible. Try breaking it down to a 15-minute walk every other day. Then gradually build up to every day. Then increase the intensity slowly. This not only makes your goal reachable but helps reduce the likelihood of stress or strain.
3. Focus on one goal at a time. Rather than trying to completely overhaul your physical and mental health, pick 1 goal, the most important to you, and focus on it. Setting a goal as “to get healthy” is too vague and will likely fail as you flounder around trying to do it all without any real direction. With 1 goal in mind, devote your energies to it. Once you’ve achieved this goal, only then should you try to attempt another.
4. Find a support system. Whether you want to quit smoking, shed a few pounds, or read 25 books in a year, find some friends or family that you can talk to about your goals. Find people who will support you, listen to you, and lift you up when you feel you’re failing. Even ask them to join you on your quest. A support system that works together is far more likely to succeed than you being the lone wolf. (And no, misery does not love company, but cheerleading sure is more uplifting with a group.)
5. Forgive yourself. If you’re having problems meeting that goal, or feel you’ve completely failed, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t look at any “backsliding” as a failure, but as a lesson to learn from. What an excellent opportunity to learn more about yourself and your support group. Failure is only an opportunity to learn and grow, not true failure.
No matter what you focus on in the new year, know that any care for your wellbeing both physically and mentally is a good thing. If we don’t take care of ourselves, then who will? Take charge of your life, your health, and your happiness.
If we don’t take care of ourselves, then who will? Take charge of your life, your health, and your happiness.– Lisa Mildon
How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing? (n.d.). Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. Retrieved January 14, 2020, from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing
Luciani, J. (2015, December 29). Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail. US News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail
Harvard Health. (2015, December). Rev up your thinking skills by trying something new. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-aging/rev-up-your-thinking-skills-by-trying-something-new
Research Suggests a Positive Correlation between Social Interaction and Health. (n.d.). National Institute on Aging. Retrieved January 14, 2020, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/about/living-long-well-21st-century-strategic-directions-research-aging/research-suggests-positive
Resolutions, goals, health, physical, mental, intentions, self care, healthy, brain, body, New Year’s, New Year