Looking to make some positive life changes this year? Why not set a New Year’s resolution? Resolutions are a great way to hit the “restart” button after the holidays, and they can do a great job of bolstering your overall health and wellness goals. The key is to make sure you go into the New Year with realistic goals and expectations so as to not fall victim to feelings of failure. The experts say that many people relapse on their resolutions because they tend to set their sights too high. Instead, you want to set reasonable, attainable goals, and that often means starting small!
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1. Identify Your Trigger Foods — If you’re like millions of Americans, you probably have some digestive difficulties but don’t know why. Even seemingly healthy foods can cause severe digestive duress, including diarrhea, constipation and gas, which can slow us down and prevent us from living life to the fullest. Following a low-FODMAP meal plan is a great way to help you understand why your digestive tract responds the way it does to certain foods. What is FODMAP? In short, it’s a roadmap of highly fermentable carbohydrates that are found in some of the most common trigger foods. Trying a low-FODMAP diet can help you zero-in on which items tend to toss your tummy into a tailspin and which ones are safe to eat on the regular.
2. Stick to Good Oral Health — We all know that good oral health equals good overall health, especially since there’s now a clear link between poor oral health and chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. On top of that, good oral health can make your smile brighter and whiter, which means more confidence for you – and that’s never a bad thing! Make sure to keep your oral health goals straightforward and obtainable. Rather than saying you’ll floss each day, for example, say you’ll floss at least three times a week, which is a goal you’re much more likely to maintain for the whole year.
3. Practice a Healthy Skincare Routine — It’s the same deal here! Healthy, happy skin isn’t just skin-deep! It can also bolster your overall wellness and self-esteem by making you feel more confident and beautiful. But don’t set yourself up to fail by committing to a ridiculously intense, multi-step routine that you’re not likely to stay on top of. Instead, start with something simple, like a commitment to wash your face twice a day or to remember to put on moisturizer before you hit the hay each night.
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4. Exercise More Often — Getting fit is often cited as the number one most popular New Year’s resolution, and it’s also one that’s often broken! The key to making exercise a routine part of your New Year plan is to work your way up in increments. If you don’t exercise at all right now, start off small at two times per week, using an app or website to get you used to working out at home on your own time. If you already do that, make your resolution to work out an extra day each week. Baby steps are essential when it comes to fitness!
5. Make More Time for Friends — As we enter into 2021 in the midst of a global pandemic, the idea of spending more time with friends seems really far-fetched. But if we learned anything this year, we learned how crucial socializing is to our mental health and happiness. At the same time, we figured out that making time for friends doesn’t have to mean in-person. You can get the same benefits of friendship through Zoom or phone calls.
6. Be More Eco–Friendly — What’s better than making a resolution that helps you live a better life? Making a resolution that helps you and the rest of the world live a better life! One great example of this type of resolution is being more eco-friendly. You can take small steps towards shrinking your carbon footprint by recycling more, trading up for an electric vehicle or taking public transportation more often, switching to more sustainable fashion (supporting conscious brands or shopping second-hand, for example) and lowering your household’s consumption of water, energy and fossil fuels. Even something as simple as putting LEDs in all your lamps can make a big impact.
7. Take Social Media Breaks — By now, we’re all well-aware of how detrimental social media can be to our mental health. In fact, researchers have drawn parallels between the use of social media and negative effects, such as feelings of inadequacy and fear of missing out (FOMO). On top of that, some studies suggest that social media use is correlated with a higher risk of depression, anxiety, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts. Taking routine social media breaks is a good way to keep the bad parts of digital life at bay and enjoy the good ones in moderation.
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8. Add One or Two Things to Your Off-Limits List — Many of us want to lose weight and get healthier in the New Year, but don’t make the mistake of reaching too high with a restrictive or unrealistic diet. Instead of going full-on off-limits, consider adding a couple of minor things to your “moderation only” list, such as high-calorie drinks (soda and Starbucks, perhaps) or eating sweet treats on weekdays. Setting minor limitations can equal big results without making you feel deprived of the things you love.
Even though these resolutions may seem small and relatively low-effort, they’re the ones you’ll be the most likely to follow, and the ones you’ll be the most thankful you made at the end of the year. They’re also more likely to become a routine part of your daily life so you can carry them well into the future. Improving your overall health and wellness isn’t just about making broad, sweeping changes. It’s about sticking to the little things that add up to make a big difference.