The glitz and glamour of New Year’s Eve is long over but your commitment to become a better you is just beginning. If you are among the many who resolved to make 2019 the year you would make changes to benefit your mind and body, then you’re in luck! We share three achievable resolutions for a healthier you here.
1. Kick Your Most Harmful Habit
We all have our vices—those harmful habits that damage our mental, physical, emotional and social health. Perhaps your vice is smoking or drinking too much alcohol. Maybe your vice is overeating. Whatever it is, eliminating your vices will have a huge impact on your health and happiness.
To start, identify your most debilitating vice. (Yes, you may have several harmful habits, but focus on the one that hurts you and/or your loved ones the most.) Next, carefully consider the underlying reason you continuously choose to engage in your harmful habit. For example, if your vice is that you spend an excessive amount of your free time at home alone binging on Netflix and scrolling through strangers’ Instagram accounts, the underlying reason may be that you don’t feel you have anyone who cares to spend time with you.
Once you have identified the underlying reason you engage in your harmful behavior, make a list of steps you can take to address it. Motivate yourself to follow through on these steps by telling a family member, significant other, friend (or your entire social network!) that you are working to change. You can also try enacting a consequence system—for example, paying a friend $5 any time you smoke a cigarette—to help stay on track.
2. Reduce Stress
It may seem strange, but a little stress is actually good for the body. According to health.com, low-level stress can boost brainpower, make you more resilient and motivate you to succeed, among other benefits. Chronic stress, however, can increase your risk of or worsen heart disease, stroke, depression and other serious health conditions.
To help reduce your stress, first identify its causes. According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress is by far the major source of stress for American adults. Another common stressor is personal relationships, be it with a significant other, family member, friend or even a child.
When you know the source of your stress, look for ways to manage it. A few good ideas for managing stress include developing healthy responses (going to the gym instead of grabbing a drink), establishing clear boundaries (not checking your work email past 8 p.m.), taking time to recharge (whether incorporating a meditation practice or a week-long vacation) and getting some support (talking to a trusted supervisor, friend or health professional).
3. Get a Better Night’s Sleep
It’s no secret that a restful night’s sleep does wonders for our bodies. What’s less apparent to many people is how to consistently sleep well. While you may not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, the Mayo Clinic offers a few simple habits you can adopt for a better night’s sleep, including:
- Stick to a Consistent Sleep/Wake Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day even on weekends, days off from work or school and holidays.
- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine: The stimulating effects of caffeine and nicotine take hours to wear off, and alcohol can disrupt sleep later in the night.
- Create a Calming Bedtime Ritual: Do the same things every night to tell your body it’s time to wind down. A few good options include drinking a cup of decaffeinated tea, meditating and using a relaxing kava extract to get you in the mood.