Studies have shown that about 41 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions, but only about eight percent are successful in achieving their goals. "It's easy to be seduced by the promise of “new year, new you,” only to be disappointed come April,” says Kristen Carpenter, PhD, director of Women’s Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Assistant Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Health, Psychology, Obstetrics & Gynecology at The Ohio State University. “Don’t let past failures dissuade you from letting this be your year. Instead, revise your goal-setting process for optimal results."
Resolutions are just goals with a little holiday flair and the principles of goal-setting are simple. This year, stick to the following principles to make the most of your resolutions and create lasting change. Carpenter suggests setting goals that are specific, realistic and measurable. "While 'Take better care of myself' is a lovely thought, it's much easier to measure progress if you pledge to spend at least 60 minutes in leisure activity each week,” she said. “Instead of pledging to 'be healthier,' set a goal of exercising five times per week for 30 minutes."
Here are five tips that can help you re-frame your intentions to create lasting results with your New Year's resolutions:
Choose Goals With Broad Impact
It's tempting to try to compartmentalize and focus on one area at a time, such as saying, “I really need to focus on my career right now, I’ll get to my personal life next year.” But a better approach is to create resolutions that simultaneously enhance multiple areas of your life. For example, resolving to live in the moment can enhance your life personally and professionally.
Work Toward Goals That Align With Your Values
Your energy and time are precious and finite resources. If you’re crafting resolutions that are not in line with your values, you’ll be less motivated to work toward them. More importantly, achieving them won’t feel particularly good. Evaluate your goals and prioritize those that are in synch with what is most important to you.
Don’t Overdo It
Many of us are already spread too thin; don’t add to the stress by piling on resolutions. Focus your energy on no more than two to three goals at a time. Rank your resolutions in order of importance - keeping in mind the above. Start the year with a few resolutions, knowing that you can always hold the others and reassess mid-year.
Change is difficult, even when the change is good. Find a friend or loved one to support you - better yet, join you - so that it’s easier keep the momentum going when you hit a bump in the road.
Expect those bumps. Too often, people view a lapse as the end. For example, you’ve resolved to exercise three times a week and you skip a week or two or three. Change is a process, not an outcome. As such, change requires upkeep. When you slip, rather than give up, figure out what went wrong and get back on track.
10 Holistic Health Tips For The New Year
As the New Year approaches, Loyola Medicine family physician Kit Lee, MD, FAAMA is offering 10 holistic lifestyle tips that can boost your health and potentially reduce the need for medications. Dr. Lee's evidence-based advice includes lifestyle modifications such as mindful eating and proper sleep hygiene and simple suggestions such as taking a walk in the park or performing a random act of kindness.
Here are Dr. Lee's top ten tips for a healthy and holistic 2019:
Sleep in a cool, dark room. Aim for seven or eight hours a night. Gentle stretching before bed can relax your body and help you get to sleep. But avoid vigorous exercise and alcohol and caffeine before bedtime. Lavender, an essential oil, can be calming and sedative before sleep. It's also okay to use the supplement melatonin occasionally to reset your sleep-and-wake cycle. If you still have trouble falling asleep, don't toss and turn. Get up and do something relaxing for a while, such as reading, meditating or watching TV.
Don't mindlessly wolf down your food. Take your time. Chew slowly. Savor the smell, flavor, taste and texture. And don't overeat - stop before you feel full.
Limit animal-based foods and cut down on carbs. Eat mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. Berries are among the most healthful fruits, and vegetables are even better. Eat the rainbow - fruits and vegetables with different colors provide different nutrients and phytochemicals - disease-fighting compounds found in plants.
Take A Time Out
Spend at least 20 minutes a day in a quiet space that allows you to express your inner voice. Put down your smart phone, turn off the TV and walk, meditate, play an instrument, draw, dance or write in a journal.
Studies have found that spending time in nature improves mood, lowers stress hormones and reduces blood pressure. A walk in the woods also might boost the immune system. Plants emit chemicals called phytocides that protect against insects and harmful microbes. When you breathe in phytocides, it increases the level of the immune system's natural killer cells. You don't have to go to the wilderness. Walking in a park or even sitting in your back yard can also help. Plus, spending time outside in sunlight helps regulate circadian rhythm - your body's 24-hour internal clock.
Dr. Lee recommends following the federal government's Physical Guidelines for Americans. Each week, adults should do two-and-a-half to five hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. Aerobic activity is anything that makes your heart beat faster, such as brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, dancing or swimming. In addition, do muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Examples include lifting weights, carrying heavy loads and heavy gardening. Check with your physician before beginning a new exercise routine.
There are many physical and mental benefits to yoga, including increased flexibility, muscle strength and tone, protection against injury, improved balance, better sleep, improved mood and stress relief. Depending on the type practiced, yoga also can count as an aerobic or muscle-strengthening activity.
Assisting other people, such as volunteering at a food pantry or performing a random act of kindness, can have multiple health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, boosting self-esteem and relieving stress. "Selfless service enhances a sense of connectivity to one another," Dr. Lee says.
Nurturing your personal relationships also is good for your health. Three of the best ways to do this are to show gratitude, express your love and be the first to apologize. So don't neglect to say "thank you" and "I love you" and when necessary, "I'm sorry."
Glass Half Full
Studies have found that having a positive attitude can help manage stress, which can lead to many health benefits, including better heart health, lower rates of depression and improved coping skills. "Try to see the world as half full rather than half empty," Dr. Lee added.
Take Care Of Your Brain Too
With people worldwide getting their New Year’s resolutions ready, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is encouraging individuals to take 10 steps to promote good brain health and healthy aging in 2019. “Taking care of your brain is a New Year’s resolution that everyone should make and, more importantly, keep,” says Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and CEO. “Just as we focus on improving other parts of our bodies, we need to look after our minds too. There are steps and lifestyle changes which we encourage individuals to take to support their brain health and wellness in 2019 and beyond.”
“The best way to make 2019 a healthy and happy new year is by being proactive about your own well-being,” added Bert E. Brodsky, AFA’s Founder and Board Chairman. “The brain is one of the most vital parts of the human body; it’s so important to keep it in good shape. Start the New Year off ‘well’ by prioritizing your cognitive health.”
AFA urges people to take the following 10 steps for healthy aging:
Adopt a low-fat diet high on fruits and veggies, like strawberries, blueberries and broccoli. Take daily vitamins. Limit intake of red meats, fried and processed foods, salt and sugar. In general, foods that are “heart healthy” are also “brain healthy.”
Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and can also help improve mood and overall wellbeing. Brisk walking benefits brain health, while aerobics can boost your heart rate, and weight training builds strength and flexibility.
Learn New Things
Challenge your brain by starting a new hobby like playing tennis, learning to speak a foreign language, trying a cooking class, or something you haven’t done before. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand stimulates the brain by forcing it to think outside of its normal routine.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting a consistent sleep every night is key; at least seven to nine hours is ideal. Having a good sleep environment is also helpful. Insomnia or sleep apnea can have serious physical effects and negatively affect memory and thinking.
Mind Your Meds
Medication can affect everyone differently, especially as you age. When getting a new medication or something you haven’t taken in a while - whether over the counter or prescription - talk to your doctor or local pharmacist.
Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol
Smoking can increase the risk of serious illnesses, while too much alcohol can affect memory, impair judgment and present safety issues.
Social interaction and maintaining an active social life are very important for brain health, cognitive stimulation and mood. Invite friends and family over for a meal, board games, or just to hang out. Engaging in your community and participating in group activities is also beneficial.
Know Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure can impact your cognitive functioning. Visit your physician regularly to check your blood pressure and make sure it is in normal range.
See Your Doctor
Maintain checkups. Health screenings are key to managing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, all of which can impact brain health. Speak with your physician about any concerns or questions you have about your health.
Get A Memory Screening
Our brains need regular checkups, just as other parts of our bodies do. A memory screening is a quick, easy, non-invasive exam for our brains. Talk to your doctor about getting a screening as part of your annual wellness exam or call AFA at 866-232-8484.