It’s fair to say that 2016 wasn’t a popular year (to put it mildly).
But while we may be ready to embrace 2017 with open arms, there’s one mistake many of us will probably bring into the New Year: focusing on the wrong resolution.
If data published in 2015 is any indication, many of us will pledge to lose weight. However, the problem with focusing solely on the scale is that it isn’t necessarily beneficial or indicative of our well-being. Not to mention the fact that concentrating on a pants size may make us ignore all the other aspects of wellness (like self-esteem or empathy, for example).
Of course, if losing weight is imperative to your physical health, it’s necessary to complete those goals and follow a plan outlined by a doctor. But if you’re searching for a way to prioritize wellness, there are additional options.
We’ve rounded up some healthy resolutions that have nothing to do with dropping pounds. Check them out below and then vow to make 2017 your best year yet.
1. Sleep more.
Commit to those eight hours. Proper shuteye is linked to better mental health and a lower risk for physical health conditions.
2. Cut back on sugar.
It’s difficult but it can be life changing if you pull it off. Here are a few tips on how to give it up.
3. Limit sodium intake.
Dietary guidelines recommend consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams per day (but the average American may consume more than 3,400 milligrams in a day ― yikes!). Too much sodium is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and more.
4. Start meditating.
The benefits of a meditation practice are boundless, from improved mental health to better concentration to a lower risk for disease.
5. Pick up crafting.
Experts say activities like knitting can ease anxiety and put you in a meditative state. And you get a scarf in the process? Score.
6. Spend time alone.
Introverts are onto something. There’s power in a little “me time.”
7. Plan a trip.
You’ll boost your mood instantly. Research suggests planning a vacation can increase happiness ― and just think, you’ll have an adventurous city or a white sand beach to look forward to after you book it.
8. Keep a journal.
This could be a book that gives you prompts or just an empty place to scribble out your frustrations. Studies show journaling can be cathartic for your mental health.
9. Go for strolls more often.
It’s actually a really healthy exercise, according to science. Hit the pavement.
10. Cut back on complaining.
Negative thought patterns can increase stress levels. Try a mindful experiment where when you catch yourself complaining ― or thinking negatively ― you counteract it with something positive. Here’s a little inspiration to get started.
11. Give up diet soda.
12. Compliment someone once a day.
And not just on their appearance. Genuine compliments can go a long way for both you and the other person.
13. Practice gratitude.
14. Go to therapy.
Therapy can be an incredibly useful tool for self discovery or as a way to work out life’s challenges. If you’re dealing with a particularly rough period ― or just want to know more about your inner world ― mental health professionals can help.
15. Volunteer regularly.
Donating your time to people or an organization in need can do a world of good. And if you needed more reason: Research shows volunteering can improve your health. It may also increase your happiness levels thanks to a circular effect. Kindness makes you happy, and happiness makes you kind.
16. Drink more water.
Forget what you were told about drinking eight glasses a day and aim for hydration instead. Here’s a handy guide to know when you’re actually feeling parched (it might be happening sooner than you realize).
17. Cook at home more frequently.
You’ll end up getting healthier in the process. Research says homemade meals can help you skip out on excess calories.
18. Commit to a strength-training routine.
Building muscle can help protect you against injury and even sharpen your cognitive skills. Start small ― even just using your body weight ― and increase as you get stronger.
19. Talk to more strangers.
It pays to make a little eye contact. Research shows smiling at someone you don’t know could help increase feelings of social connection.
20. Say “no” more often.
Burnout is real and it can happen in a blink of an eye. Make sure you’re prioritizing yourself and not saying “yes” to everything because it feels like an obligation. Self care isn’t selfish.
21. Handwrite letters instead of emailing people.
Make an effort to communicate via snail mail this year. Handwritten correspondence is a lost art form ― but there are real benefits to putting pen to paper, from better creativity to a smaller risk of multitasking.
22. Schedule walking meetings once a week.
You’ll get far more out of it than if you were holed up in the office. And that added physical activity may just get your creativity flowing.
23. Use all of your vacation days.
Those who are lucky enough to get vacation time often don’t put it to use. A recent survey found that 32 percent of people used zero of their allocated days last year. But taking a break is super important for your well-being. Don’t feel like taking a vacation? Try a mental health day, instead.
24. Call your family more often.
Chances are they’d love to hear from you and you can benefit from it, too. Research shows calling loved ones like your mom can ease stress.
25. Cut back on material spending.
26. Try team sports.
The camaraderie is great and you’ll pick up a new hobby in the process. Plus, it’s ― you guessed it ― good for your mental health.
27. Learn a language.
Say “hola” or “bonjour” to a new life skill. Research even supports the theory that it’ll boost your brain.
28. Forgive someone.
Anger and resentment is like holding onto internal poison and can even harm your physical health. Life’s too short to not move on.
29. Make regular doctors’ appointments.
Research shows that ― for the most part ― it’s okay to forgo annual physicals if you’re generally healthy individual. But that doesn’t mean throw caution to the wind and ignore your body. If you’re sick or something is off, see a doctor. That includes specialists like dermatologists and dentists.
30. Donate to an important cause.
That same kindness feedback loop that happens when you volunteer may also apply in this case as well. Here’s a list of organizations that may need your help right now, in particular.
31. Read one book a month.
Research shows reading can boost empathy and emotional intelligence. If you’re committed to diving into multiple novels this year, check out this list of tips and benefits that will help keep you motivated.
32. Bring your lunch to work every day.
Trust us, your wallet will thank you. Take a look at this breakdown to see just how much you’ll save.
33. Practice self-acceptance.
It’s actually a key to a happier life but it’s a habit people rarely practice. Make your internal dialogue as kind as it would be if you were talking to your best friend.
34. Say a mantra every day.
Mantras can keep you grounded in the moment, allowing you to reap the rewards of mindfulness, and they could help you actually believe what you’re saying after a while. (Yes, you are beautiful. And yes, you should repeat that to yourself every day if that’s what you need.)
35. Wear sunscreen.
36. Eat more (good!) carbohydrates.
Psst, the healthiest people in the world actually consume a lot of carbs. (Yep, you read that correctly.) Check out how to incorporate more of these important nutrients into your diet.
37. Cut back on alcohol.
Sure, a little is fine (who doesn’t love a good glass of Pinot Grigio?). But the negatives outweigh the positives in the long term in this case.
38. Go outside more often.
Not only does it improve your mood, you get the added perks of exercise. Win-win.
39. Give up the snooze button.
40. Floss regularly.
There’s a reason your dentist nags you about that tiny string. Clearing your gums of bacteria is necessary for oral health, so do what you can to make sure they’re in good condition.
41. Make your bed every day.
No act of organization is too small. And it may make you happier.
42. Don’t use your smartphone before bed.
The type of light that’s emitted from screens can disrupt your sleep and keep you awake longer. Try ditching your device at least 30 minutes before you shut your eyes.
43. Do an activity outside of your comfort zone.
There’s a whole life to discover on the other side of your routine. Not to mention the fact that doing something different may boost creativity.
44. Pick a theme for the year.
If you’re starting to feel like this whole “resolution” thing isn’t for you, try sticking to a theme instead. Instead of picking a goal, pick a word you want to abide by for 2017. It could be “brave” or “confident” or “compassionate.” Whatever you want to start doing ― or being ― more of.
45. Fix your posture.
46. Sign up for a race.
There’s something satisfying about crossing a real finish line. Running comes with a lot of physical and mental health perks, from lower risk of disease to improved mood. Why not celebrate a running routine with a tangible medal of your accomplishments?
47. Marie Kondo your space.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is the champion of the tidying method where you only keep items that bring you joy. Since then, the trend has gained traction and for a good reason. Not only does it keep your home clutter-free, there’s also a psychological health component to focusing on the materials that make you happy.
48. Cut back on social media.
Research shows that constant scrolling through a newsfeed can lead to social comparison, or the need to stack your life up against someone else’s. This can then lead to depressive symptoms. Take a step back from all of it and live your life based on how you feel ― not on how cool it’s supposed to look with a filter.
49. Spend time with people who think differently than you do.
Empathy, or the ability to walk in another’s shoes, is the foundation for a lot of positive perks. The more you expand yourself and open your eyes to different perspectives, the more open minded you become.
50. Love yourself.
Because you’re all you’ve got ― no matter what.
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