10 Simple Resolutions for a Happier, Healthier You
We have a new resolution for New Year’s resolutions: don’t set yourself up to quit. That’s what most of us do every single year. We set a big goal, underestimate what it will take to accomplish it, get discouraged when things go poorly—and then, boom, we give up. According to 2015 research out of the University of Scranton, a measly 8 percent of us will achieve our resolutions in 2016.
So let’s make a deal: don’t be a failed-resolution statistic in 2016. This year, choose small, attainable goals that bring joy into each day.
Rather than overwhelm you, these everyday practices will boost your resilience to stress over time and add up to big changes in how you look, feel, and live.
Here are 10 resolutions that are easy to keep.
1. Treat yourself. If you’ve got a thing for chocolate, don’t give it up now. There’s evidence that chocolate triggers the release of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins in your brain, making it a mega stress-buster. The key is to choose dark chocolate with no dairy, little to no added sugar, and to enjoy in moderation.
2. Give yourself the giggles. Laughter reduces stress hormones, boosts endorphins and infection-fighting antibodies, and makes you feel more hopeful and engaged. Watch that funny YouTube video circulating on social media or a clip of your favorite sitcom—it’s good for you!
3. Stretch in the A.M. “Stretching can get your blood moving, give you a boost of energy, help your posture, and may even decrease pain,” says meQuilibrium’s chief medical officer Adam Perlman, M.D. Wring out stiff morning muscles and joints with five minutes of gentle movement or yoga postures. Soothing your body early sets you up for more comfort and ease through the rest of the day.
4. Stay on the sunny side. What you focus on grows, so put your mind on the positive. Find three things every day that are going well—and write them down. Challenge yourself to write three new things each day and watch your sense of optimism blossom.
5. Take a tech break. Your cell phone may be wrecking your posture and your mood, reports the New York Times. Instead of mindlessly thumbing through your phone, take a conscious break: put down the phone, sit up straight, and do a neck roll or two. Your sense of contentment will rise as your aches and pains quiet down.
6. Spread good gossip. Gabbing can actually build closeness and connection between you, your audience, and the person you’re talking about—if it’s well-intentioned. To kick off a chain of encouragement, share one positive story or tidbit a day with your family, friends, or coworkers.
7. Put friends first. Connecting with your besties busts stress. They also happen to help you live longer, says this Brigham Young University study. Call or text two friends each day to fill your life with inspiring connections—and spread cheer to your dear ones, too.
8. Sharpen your focus. Nothing beats being so immersed in something that you lose track of time. The next time you work on a project, either at the office or at home, screen out distractions for 20 minutes at a time. Then, next time, double that. This level of focus not only gets the job done, it feels fantastic, too!
9. Make berries and veggies irresistible. Want to keep your weight in check, feel pleasantly full, and lower your risk of chronic disease? Recent research says: eat berries and veggies like blueberries, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Make a plan to try out a new recipe once a week and build your repertoire of healthy, tasty meals.
10. Treat sleep with the respect it deserves. Preparing for sleep and cozying up in bed can be one of the best parts of your day if you do it right. Give yourself a half hour to unwind with a warm bath or good book before nodding off, and put away screens two hours (or at the very least, one) before bed. Research shows that exposure to lights from electronics before bed makes it harder to fall asleep. Improve your sleep and you’ll build a habit of self-care that supports you all day.