5 Healthier New Years Resolutions

New Year, New You!

It’s incredible how time flies, isn’t it? With the New Year upon us, it’s likely you’ve been thinking about your resolutions, if you haven’t made them already. Like many people, you might struggle with finding resolutions worth sticking to. If you want to make a change but you’re unsure of just what to do, we’re here to offer five ideas for some resolutions that will lead to a happier, healthier you in 2015, and some reasons why they’re good choices to make. You may even be tempted to make two or three! Please keep in mind that not all of these resolution ideas will apply for everyone and that you should always talk to a healthcare provider prior to starting any extreme diet or exercise plans.

1. Quitting Smoking

Anyone who smokes knows this is probably easier said than done, but it’s a great resolution with even better health benefits that will serve a greater purpose in the long run. Smoking is a known cause for lung diseases that are often fatal like COPD and lung cancer. Secondhand smoke is just as bad for those around you and can cause issues like asthma or other, worse illnesses, especially in children. The fact is, smoking has been linked to other health issues too such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, tooth staining and decay, and an overall lower immune system.

Smoking is also a costly and time consuming habit. Depending on where you live cost varies, but a person who smokes a pack a day will spend about $5000 on cigarettes each year. Try calculating the yearly cost of your smoking and make a list of all the things you could buy with that money saved. Maybe you’re looking to go on a nice vacation, or you want to do some home improvement. With the money saved by quitting or even cutting back on your smoking, you may just be able to.

2. Losing Weight

If your resolution involves losing weight, make sure you’re doing it in a way that is both safe and effective for you. What works for everyone else may do nothing for you, so talk to a healthcare provider about possible methods of weight loss including vitamins, exercise, specialized diets, and more. Be careful to avoid the ‘fad’ diets that starve you and leave you feeling weak, hungry, or disappointed. Losing weight should be a process that makes you feel good about yourself, not one that is discouraging and upsetting. If you find that your weight loss method is giving you more grief than gain, consider trying something new. Finding a friend to work with on this goal can make it easier to accomplish as well because most of us do struggle with sticking to our plans without a little outside encouragement. A trusted and committed friend could be the difference between success and the abandonment of your resolution.

With weight loss you’ll see many desirable effects. You’ll have more energy, may get sick less often, and may just find yourself more eager to enjoy life. Many people who want to lose weight report higher self-confidence after successfully keeping it off, so look forward to loving what you see in the mirror even more than you already do now. Maintaining a healthy weight isn’t easy, but it’s worth it as it reduces your risks of many chronic health conditions.

3. Lessen Your Stress

Stress may not cause ulcers as was once believed, but it can cause other problems. Like smoking, stress can significantly decrease your immune system’s capability to fight off illness and can lead to a less productive lifestyle. Stress can worsen your risk for obesity as it can trigger overeating. It can also worsen chronic conditions like asthma and high blood pressure, which can lead to life threatening complications. Diabetes can also worsen when you are under stress, so keep an eye on your blood sugar if you’re feeling particularly pressed. It’s important to remember that stress isn’t just in your head. It can manifest itself in your body and really take a toll on you.

If you’re looking to relieve some of that built-up tension, try setting aside twenty to thirty minutes each day to practice a stress-relief exercise that works for you. Here are some suggestions we’ve found that can make you breathe a little easier:
-Breathe Deeply (Author’s tip: Try taking a deep breath, inhaling for four seconds, holding it for four seconds, and then letting it out for four seconds. Repeat until you feel better. The focus on the breathing and counting will reduce stress or anxiety.)
-Meditate
-Practice Yoga or Tai Chi
-Acupuncture
-Talk to a practitioner about aromatherapy. (More information here)
-Drink herbal tea
-Laugh!

4. Get More Sleep

Sleep, as we’ve talked about before, is another factor that plays heavily in your health. The truth is, science hasn’t been able to explain exactly why we need sleep, but they do know that without it, the human body weakens and doesn’t operate optimally. Sleep is another thing that plays into your immune system, so being sure to get the full forty winks at night can keep you from coming down with pesky bugs like the cold or the flu. We often hear people saying they want to ‘catch up’ on their sleep. The thing is that once you lose sleep, there’s no making it up. Napping for short periods during the day can be a refreshing way to increase brain activity when you’re feeling too tired to function properly, but a full night’s sleep is the only way to get all the great benefits sleeping has to offer.

It can be hard to get away from all the distractions these days, so sleeping a full eight hours can be hard. Our phones are often our main cause of sleeplessness, but keeping it outside your bedroom may not be an option if you use it as your morning alarm. Try setting a time to put it to the side every night. The bright lights from electronics can actually cause insomnia and prevent you from getting tired enough to sleep. If you still can’t sleep, pull out your favorite book and start reading. A dim lamp with just enough light to read is a better option than an overhead light as it will not confuse your brain into thinking it is time to wake up. Once you feel tired, don’t fight it. Just close your book, close your eyes, and sleep.

5. Try New Things

This resolution can mean so many things. It is perhaps the easiest to follow and stick with because you can personalize it to suit the needs of you or your family. The best way to start with this one is to make a list of things you’ve always wanted to try. If it helps, you can separate it into a list of foods, activities, and other things you’d like to try by category. Now, set a goal. This can either be a total goal like trying 10 new things this year or smaller, short term goals like trying two new things per week. Only take on what you think you can handle so you don’t get disappointed or stress yourself out (see resolution three!) which can turn you away from your resolution all together.

Remember, resolutions are supposed to better your life, not make it a chore, so be realistic! It’s okay to take things slow so long as you’re making changes for the better.

Sources: CDC, WebMD

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