It’s that time of year again. It begins with friends, family, and strangers wishing one another a happy holiday and good tidings. But then January creeps closer, and the greetings give way to that all-too-familiar question: What’s your New Year’s resolution?
Maybe you like the idea of a fresh start, or perhaps you’re tired of the whole “new year, new me” mindset. Either way, let’s all agree that throughout the year, we can all be guilty of indulging in some not-so-good habits.
“The new year provides an opportunity for all of us to start over again by setting goals that we hope to achieve through the coming year,” says Glenn Most, PsyD, Executive Director ofWest Pines Behavioral Health. Dr. Most adds, “Research suggests that we have difficulty maintaining our resolutions because, all too often, the goals we set for ourselves are too large and complicated to achieve.”
So whether January 1st is the beginning of a new era or not, it can’t hurt to try and incorporate some positive change into the next 365 days. That’s why we’ve gathered some small ways to tackle a handful of pesky bad habits.
Defend Against Snack Attacks
Whether you’re watching TV or sitting in your morning commute, it can be tempting to pop something salty or sweet in your mouth — even if you’re not hungry. That’s because when we’re stressed or bored, we develop a fixation to snack. And It’s not the most healthy way to keep our minds occupied. So the next time you’re feeling a snack attack coming on, try occupying your hands and mind in other ways. Knit or cross-stitch when you’re watching TV, or call a friend (hands-free, of course) to catch up on your commute or listen to an audiobook.
Meditate Even Just for a Minute
You’ve heard it a million times: “Try meditation — it has so many benefits!” Well, we’re telling you that there may be something to the hype. Studies have shown that meditation may have some seriously impressive and direct effects on health, including increasing your immune function. To keep with our theme of starting small, why not try meditating for just a minute in the morning? Maybe you’ll like it enough to gradually grow it to 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and then an hour each day!
Stop Skipping Out on Sleep
It’s all too easy to get caught up in work and play and settle for five hours of restless sleep. But the benefits of a good night’s rest should be incentive enough to take the time for proper shut-eye. From weight loss to productivity, getting a solid eight hours improves your quality of health and overall life. If you’re wondering how to fall asleep quicker and get in more of a routine for better sleep, check out this helpful list.
Don't Let Yourself Get Dehydrated
Here’s an easy resolution you can commit to without much effort: keep yourself hydrated. All you need to do is take a sip or a gulp when you’re thinking about it, preferably before you start feeling thirsty. Maybe you’re a 32-ounce water bottle kind of person, or perhaps you like sipping straight from your favourite mug. Either way, keep that water flowing! You’ll feel more energized, have better digestion and even have healthier joints.
Smile More, Even If You’re Not Feeling It
Smiling is like the age-old question, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” Let us explain. When we feel happy and relaxed, our natural inclination is often to smile. But the simple act of smiling itself releases endorphins into our brain that make us happier and less stressed out. Aside from the personal benefits of grinnin’, smiles are sort of infectious when we flash them to strangers on the street. Long story short: when it comes to smiling — fake it ’til you make it.
Make Preventative Health a Priority
In a previous blog post, we talked about the importance of getting your annual checkup. If you haven't read it, check it out, and you'll see why avoiding that yearly appointment is a bad idea. It's better to catch things before they become a problem, even if it means a slight hiccup to your schedule. Take a look at this list to see the other types of screenings adults can get to stay ahead of the game.
Declutter Your Space Little by Little
Whether it’s a messy garage or an unorganized home, clutter can createunnecessary stress and distraction. If you’re having trouble getting motivated, just imagine your space as a sleek and streamlined chamber of productivity. Take it one 15-minute chunk at a time, and soon you’ll have more room to live and think. And who knows — maybe you’ll use your extra space for getting in those home workouts you’ve always wanted to do.
So there you have it — some simple ways to start breaking those pesky bad habits for the new year. It’s all about baby steps, so don't get discouraged if you find yourself slipping up and binge-watching Netflix or not drinking enough water.
“It takes time to change habits that, in most cases, have been in place for years,” Dr. Most says. “It is important to focus on smaller goals with more realistic steps and be patient with ourselves if and when we experience that relapse from time to time. Give yourself credit for the positive changes you have made and recommit to maintaining your new habit the next day.”