Even with 2017 and a New Year fast approaching, you still have time to finalize your list of New Year's Resolutions. Even if it’s a short list—one resolution is a great start!—picking resolutions can be a trying process long on vagueness and short on commitment.
"It's easy to change your attitude but difficult to change your behavior," said University of Wisconsin clinical professor Christine Whelan, quoted at cnn.com. "If you're committed to it, you can make a new habit or behavior permanent."
Some New Year's Resolutions have become trite, and in most cases, they are unrealistic. Things like to lose weight, to quit drinking or smoking, to pray daily or attend church weekly, to read a book every week or month—often are not well thought out. The intent is there, but the plan and follow-through are not.
For the sake of simplicity and to go at this at a bit different angle, following are 10 suggestions to consider for 2017 resolutions, all designed to help you out health wise:
- Find a local nonprofit that closely aligns with your own interests and arrange to work volunteer hours for them on a regular basis. Don’t bite off more than you can chew—if you do, you might find the volunteer hours encroaching on your life in ways that are incompatible. Start with a few hours a month and work your way up from there as your schedule permits. Such volunteer work can produce positive emotions for you (and for others), as a 2010 study found that upbeat people were 20 percent less likely to have a heart attack or develop heart disease.
- At the end of each work day, take 10 minutes and write down a list of everything important you need to do the next day. This includes meetings and other appointments. If you remember more things later, just text that information to yourself. Thinking this daily to-do list through and writing it down will help you sleep better at night and begin the next workday with a refreshed sense of purpose, especially as you start crossing off items when finished with each.
- In a similar vein, resolve to do a kitchen makeover. We're not suggesting you spend thousands of dollars redoing countertops and cabinets; instead, keep it simple and clean out your fridge, cabinets and pantry of unhealthy or outdated foods and drinks, then carefully restock healthily across the spectrum, such as storing snacks of carrots and air-popped popcorn. This stuff really works. Cornell University researchers found that women who kept healthy food visible in kitchens had lower BMIs than those who kept junk food at arm's length. Keeping your kitchen shipshape is a yearlong process that requires discipline, so this isn't just a one-shot deal.
- Get on your feet, and stay there a while. If a good chunk of your day is usually spent seated at a desk, take 10 or 15 minutes every hour to visit coworkers and talk to them about things you would otherwise email them about. The distance covered isn't so important as the amount of time you are on your feet, going toe to toe with gravity. Consider a standing desk, and standing each time you are on the phone. Some people think better on their feet. Research has linked sitting for eight hours or more a day to kidney disease.
- Keep a daily diary—a fatigue diary. Any time you feel tired during the day, other than early morning or right before you go to bed, make a note of what time you felt fatigued and the possible reasons why. Maybe it was something, or how much, you ate. Or maybe you just came out of a stressful meeting. Perhaps you are dehydrated. Figuring out a source of your tiredness and addressing it will go a long way to enhancing your health and quality of life.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water is the elixir of life. It will keep you hydrated and can also help get you through the rough sports, such as dealing with stress or helping you get beyond that mild heartburn you experience after a lunch with spicy food. Don't worry about counting ounces or glasses—just keep your water bottle handy and filled, take a good sip from it every now and then, and immediately refill when empty. Those extra two or three trips to the rest room each day will help you with that earlier resolution about being on your feet.
- Get enough sleep. Or at least, get a consistent amount of sleep. Shoot for seven or eight hours a night. A lack of sleep has been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- Head back to school. You're never too old to take another class or two. It will likely enhance your social life and maybe even boost your brainpower. Studies have shown that added educational attainment can reduce the chances of getting Alzheimer's disease.
- Unplug. No explanation needed, but it will reduce stress and anxiety in your life, and help you in managing your time.
- Exercise. OK, so this is one of those trite resolutions mentioned earlier, so let's make it simple and easy to remember. Gradually ramp up to doing 150 minutes of cardio a week---walking, jogging, biking, swimming, etc. Discuss with your physician. Stick to it.
(Author's note: Some of the ideas and information contained in this blog were adapted from the following sources: health.com; cnn.com; nhs.uk; prevention.com; huffingtonpost.com; mamanatural.com; self.com.)