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New Year’s Resolutions

Imagine your life in 2016 with half the stress and double the energy. Who wouldn’t want to have that?

Although virtually everyone aspires to better health, it’s no secret that most health-related New Year’s resolutions fail. We tend to create resolutions that are too difficult or too complex—all in the name of gaining rapid, drastic results.

But instead of striving for the quick fix, the new year is the chance to establish lifestyle modifications that are simple and easy to maintain—so that after some time they come to be habits, gradually but surely getting you nearer to optimum health.

The following are five straightforward resolutions you can put into action right away for a healthy 2016.

1. Develop a new health outlook

It’s a common story: you start the most recent fad diet and you’re feeling pretty great. Then, a couple of weeks into the program, and you have a birthday party to attend. You arrive resolved to be responsible, but you can’t refrain from the cake and ice cream. Diet over.

Giving up in this manner is a sign of an all-or-nothing approach to diet and health. Instead of surrendering when you cheat on your diet, view your present level of health as resting someplace along a continuum. Every choice you make moves you nearer to one end (good health) or the other end (poor health).

The cake and ice cream moved you to the wrong end of the continuum, but that doesn’t imply you have to advance in the same direction for the remainder of the day, week, or month. It’s OK to have that piece of cake every so often, provided that the bulk of your decisions move you in the right direction.

Creating healthy habits demands a short memory. You will slip-up every now and then. What counts is your response, and how you’ll plan on making more healthy than unhealthy decisions going forward.

2. Establish a moderate, well-balanced diet

Fad diets practically never succeed. The truth is that they are not sustainable, which means that even if they do work in the short term, you’ll very likely just regain the pounds.

Fad diets are focused on deprivation of some kind. No carbohydrates, no fats, only 1,000 calories a day. It’s as if I suggested that you’d be more productive at the office if you didn’t check your email for a month. During that month, you would most likely get a lot more work done.

But what would take place at the close of the month? You’d dedicate the majority of your time reading through emails, catching up, and losing all the productivity you just achieved.

The same phenomenon applies to deprivation diets. In fact, studies show that people often gain more weight back than they shed after the conclusion of a temporary fad diet.

So what’s the remedy?

Moderation. Remember the health continuum? It’s OK to have a bag of chips or a cheeseburger from time to time. Individual foods are not as important as your overall diet. As long as most of your decisions are healthy, you’re moving down the continuum in the right direction.

3. Include exercise into your daily routine

If you desire to write a novel, and you make yourself to write the entire thing all at once, you’ll never make it to the end. However, if you dedicate yourself to writing one page daily, you’ll have 365 pages to work with at the end of the year.

Everyone is aware they should be working out. The problem is equivalent to fad diets: the adoption of an all-or-nothing mentality. You purchase a gym membership and vow to commit to 7 days a week, three hours a day, for the remainder of your life. Two weeks in, you miss a few days, deactivate your membership, and never go back.

All or nothing. You’re focusing on the days you miss going to the gym when you should be focusing on the times you do go to the gym. Each gym trip moves you closer on the continuum toward good health.

You can additionally integrate physical exercise at work and elsewhere throughout the day. Choose the stairway instead of the elevator, park your car farther away from the store entrance, do some pushups on your lunch break. All of these activities tip the balance to good health.

4. Lower stress

There are essentially three ways to manage stress:

  1. Eliminate the source of your stress, if possible
  2. Reframe the stress into something beneficial
  3. Participate in relaxing activities more often

This will be unique for everyone, but here’s an example of a resolution incorporating all three strategies.

Eliminate – certain activities and obligations create more stress relative to the benefits received. If you notice, for example, that you spend most of your time on social media, but the stress of updating your status produces little benefit, you may think about ditching your accounts.

Reframe – Have you ever noticed that the same experience can be stressful for one person, yet exciting for another? For instance, some people despise public speaking while others love it. It is possible, but not easy, to reframe your feelings of anxiety into positive energy you can use to defeat your fears.

Relax – What do you enjoy doing the most? What is most relaxing to you? Listening to music? Reading? Camping? Meditating? Whichever it is, find ways to open your schedule to do more of it and the stress will disappear.

5. Schedule regular hearing tests

And finally, think about scheduling a hearing exam this year. While this may sound insignificant, it’s not—one out of 5 people in the US suffers from some level of hearing loss and most do nothing about it.

Hearing loss has been connected to several significant medical conditions, such as depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. Not to mention the persistent struggle to hear as a significant source of stress.

Strengthening your hearing is an excellent way to minimize stress, strengthen personal relationships, and enhance your general health and well-being.

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