Seven Wellness and Health New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Want To Keep
In 2019, 55% of all New Year’s Resolutions focused on health. Across the U.S., men and women resolved to eat less, exercise more, and pay off debts, and millions more resolved to do it at midnight on January 1, 2020. Studies show that however well-intentioned we may be, as many as 80% of us will fail to follow through and achieve our resolutions.
A big part of that is lack of motivation. Many of us make resolutions based on what we should do, not what we would genuinely like to do. This year, make health- and wellness-related resolutions and tweak them to be truly, completely appealing to you. Remember, resolutions are something you get to do, not something you have to do!
Here are a few examples to get you started:
1. Workout Your Way
If one of your resolutions is to move more or exercise more, do it the right way. There are so many different ways to exercise, confining yourself to just one or two is ineffective and unhelpful. If you tried Zumba or lifting weights last year and gave it up not too long after, try something new.
This year, at-home workouts are trending. Technology is getting increasingly smarter and giving you more options, even if you prefer to stay in and work out at home. Some of the most popular apps offer lessons or training programs for running, strength training, yoga, dance, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), CrossFit, and even customizable workouts. You can choose from apps that meet your particular proclivities or needs. For example, if you like running or want to pick up running, you can try out apps that help beginners prepare for their first 5k, apps that donate small amounts to charity for the miles you log, apps that track every bit of your data (elevation, steps, stride, pace, heart rate, distance, and more), or immersive apps with stories that have you play along with a scenario or game while running. Plus, thanks to the Olympics, the popularity of running is climbing back up. In other words, if you want to pick up running, now is the perfect time to join online running communities or your local running group.
Smart stationary bikes with full cycling classes and smart mirrors that give you feedback, correct your form, and provide health coaching offer a high-tech and personalized experience as well. Work off family dinners your way. Choose the exercise that most appeals to you to boost your chances of making it a lasting habit.
2. Spend Quality Time With Family
Old kitchens and new kitchens are not just a space to stow your kitchen appliances. Connection boosts our moods, lowers stress levels, helps us recover from physical illnesses more quickly, improves heart health, and encourages ongoing healthy behaviors like regular exercise. Spending more time with your spouse, friends, or relatives may help you gain more confidence and put the insecurities we all struggle with from time-to-time in perspective. Quality time with family teaches your children how to make new friends, improves young Americans’ self-worth, and improves their overall academic performance.
In other words, family dinners–whether they are big gatherings with hearty, comfort foods like Cajun dishes or low-key, healthy meals garnished or plated with microgreens–pack a tremendous amount of benefits for your physical and mental well-being. With obvious benefits and stronger relationships, this is another wellness resolution you will want to keep.
3. Invest In Your Health: How Wearables Can Help
Let’s face it: Getting a new Apple Watch, FitBit, or running watch can be exciting. Newer watches typically offer newer features and a bigger selection of apps to make use of. Over time, designs continue to improve, and the latest models are not only functional–they look nice and stylish, too. Couple that with obvious health benefits, and wearables can give your fitness routine a notable boost.
New smartwatches track steps, heart rate, sleeping patterns, exercise, stress levels, menstrual data, and noise. Some watches link with popular apps to track calories and nutrition. Others connect you with communities to help motivate you to take part in your chosen sport. In most cases, these watches help people track how they are doing and motivate them to keep doing it. In some cases, smartwatches can even save lives. For example, user Deanna Recktenwald’s resting heart rate climbed to 190 per minute and her wearable technology alerted her to get help in time. For reference, average resting heart rates range from 60 to 100.
Again, this is easily a resolution that checks off several boxes. Yes, you get a shiny new piece of technology. That wearable technology can also help you keep family dinners within your caloric limit, help you sleep better, connect with others, or even alert you about a life-threatening emergency.
4. Learn About Mindfulness, Relaxation, and Breathing Exercises
Mindfulness, meditation, and intentional breathing exercises are quickly becoming the norm–and just in the nick of time, too. More than 40 million Americans struggle with an anxiety disorder and another 16.1 million meet the criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD). Thankfully, mindfulness, formal meditation practice, and breathing and relaxation techniques significantly reduce stress levels. Mindfulness and meditation can also help improve relationships, sleep quality, attention span and focus, brain function, metabolism, and disease immunity.
Meditation is a resolution you can feel great about–for a number of reasons. Not only does it offer the health benefits above, it is also becoming more and more popular. In other words, if you feel self-conscious about sitting on the floor cross-legged or upright in a chair, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breath, know that is a completely normal thing to do. The popularity of meditation grew threefold from 2012 to 2017, and the number of Americans meditating on a regular or semi-regular basis continues to rise three years later in 2020. In fact, “Meditation is now the fastest-growing health trend in America,” according to the Global Wellness Summit and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meditation retreats, guided group meditations, and meditation spaces at hotels are growing in popularity. Participants can start seeing the benefits of meditation or a formal breathing and relaxation practice in just eight weeks.
Meditation is also going high tech. There are several free or mostly free meditation apps you can download to help you get started. The apps offer anything from free guided meditations, relaxing backdrops or instrumental music, long-form classes with experienced meditation teachers, or one-on-one question and answer sessions with a meditation coach.</p?
If you have eight weeks and nothing to lose, meditate or focus on your breath for at least a few minutes every day. This resolution has ongoing, compounding benefits you will want to continue enjoying long-term.
5. View Wellness As An Experience
Another resolution that is easy to keep is to explore the realm of wellness out of your home. Last year, 47% of Americans in a survey said they took part in a wellness experience or retreat. Another 55% said they hope to do it this year. Don’t drag your feet; 2020 could be your year!
Spa retreats, yoga camps, meditation or silent retreats, nutrition-related events, group cleanses, and more are gaining traction in 2020. Some Americans are even signing up for days- or week-long wellness festivals. Although it can depend on the particular festival in question, these festivals offer anything from group therapy, journaling, art, meditation, yoga, music, mental health classes, and relationship-building workshops. Often, the purpose of wellness festivals is to broaden our view of health from just the physical to the emotional, mental, and spiritual as well.
6. Revamp Your Surroundings With Pure, Open Home Designs
Another resolution that you are likely to stick to is improving the overall appearance and feel of your home. Shift your perspective. Think of kitchen design as healthcare kitchen design. Think of the space you share family dinners as a space with the potential to help you and your family grow and flourish. With deliberate design strategies, changing the look of your home while improving your well-being is more than possible. Here are a few ways to get the job done:
- Use indoor plants. Plants boost our mood. Plants reduce humidity and filter harmful allergens and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) out of the air we breathe. To optimize results, choose plants like aloe plants or orchids that release oxygen around-the-clock, not just during daylight hours.
- Choose blue light for high energy spaces. If you are sleepy and you are sleepy often, it may be time to reevaluate your home’s lighting. Blue light is great for the kitchen, dining room, or outdoor dining spaces–anywhere we might share breakfasts, lunches, and family dinners. Just remember that blue light can negatively impact sleep. Choose these lights for an energy boost in the morning or at mealtimes, and keep them off or on dim settings late in the evening.
- Pick the right smell. The best smell during family dinners may be a favorite casserole, dish, or that perfect, comforting soup. For the remainder of the day, choose scents carefully. For example, for the kitchen, energy-boosting citrus and orange scents work best. Peppermint is great for an open and airy living room. Lavender promotes relaxation, making it the perfect choice for the bedroom.
- Whenever possible, opt for natural light. Sunlight is good for us. Lots of sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythms, which in turn promotes better quality sleep.
- Reduce noise levels. Sometimes, a lot of noise is expected and even welcome. The hustle and bustle of big family dinners can be a welcome distraction from a busy week at work. Most of the time, a quiet, mellow setting is good for our mental health. Use indoor plants, sound-absorbing flooring or wall materials, muted colors, and window seats to create the perfect quiet setting.
Remember, your physical and mental well-being is complex. Rearranging your furniture, painting rooms, purchasing new home appliances and fixtures, and bringing plants inside can be temporarily rewarding and beneficial to your long-term health, too.
7. Ask Restaurants About Their Healthier Menu Options
More than any other year, U.S. men and women are focusing on their health in 2020. A big part of that entails taking a careful look at what we eat and our day-to-day habits. A full 53% of us plan family dinners an hour or less before we eat. That means eating family dinners at restaurants at least somewhat often can be a very real possibility for many of us.
Thankfully, restaurants are working with consumers and offering healthier menu options. Plant-based meat alternatives, low-calorie options, vegetarian options, and even options cooked with less sugar and oil are increasingly available. These healthier alternatives do not sacrifice quality, either. Restaurants are making the most of seasoning (dry seasoning like BBQ seasonings), natural seasoning from peppers and other vegetables, and flavor-dense ingredients to improve the health of their dishes without skimping on the taste. While some meat alternatives focused on beef and hamburgers only in past years, more food manufacturers and restaurants are now working together to provide vegetarian alternatives for chicken, pork, and fish.
Resolutions are only good if you keep them! Unfortunately, a very low percentage of Americans stick to their resolutions. You can increase your chances by choosing resolutions with obvious benefits. Plan family dinners with restaurants that offer healthy menu options, rethink the physical space in your home, go on a wellness retreat, buy a smartwatch, or pick the individual exercise program that works best for you.
For the best chance at keeping resolutions, focus on the rewards and write them down to refer back to later. Remember that exercise can improve mood, long-term health, and help you lose a few extra pounds. A smart device can help alert you before medical emergencies happen, motivate you to get your steps in every day, and they look flashy and introduce us to new tech–all positives for you. Spending time with family promotes overall happiness and helps children in a variety of different ways. Whatever your resolution may be, keep potential rewards in mind and repeat the behavior or resolution several times on a regular basis to help it really and truly sink in.