New Year’s resolutions are a bit like babies: they’re fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain. It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm months after you’ve swept up the confetti, but it’s not impossible. This year, pick one of the following worthy resolutions, and stick with it. Here’s to your health!
The fact that this is among the most popular resolutions suggests just how difficult it is to commit to. But you can succeed if you don’t expect overnight success. Also, plan for bumps in the road. Use a food journal to keep track of what you eat and have a support system in place.
Stay in touch
Feel like old friends (or family) have fallen by the wayside? It’s good for your health to reconnect with them. Research suggests people with strong social ties live longer than those who don’t.
In fact, a lack of social bonds can damage your health as much as alcohol abuse and smoking, and even more than obesity and lack of exercise, a 2010 study in the journal PLoS Medicine suggests.
In a technology-fixated era, it’s never been easier to stay in touch—or rejuvenate your relationship—with friends and family, so fire up Facebook and follow up with in-person visits.
Fear that you’ve failed too many times to try again? Talk to any ex-smoker, and you’ll see that multiple attempts are often the path to success. Try different methods to find out what works. And think of the cash you’ll save, leave alone the health benefits!
Cut your stress
A little pressure now and again won’t kill us; in fact, short bouts of stress give us an energy boost. But if stress is chronic, it can increase your risk of—or worsen—insomnia, depression, obesity, heart disease, and more.
Long work hours, little sleep, no exercise, poor diet, and not spending time with family and friends can contribute to stress says Roberta Lee, MD, an integrative medicine specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York City, and the author of The Super Stress Solution.
Cut back on alcohol
While much has been written about the health benefits of a small amount of alcohol, too much tippling is still the bigger problem. Drinking alcohol in excess affects the brain’s neurotransmitters and can increase the risk of depression, memory loss, or even seizures.
Chronic heavy drinking boosts your risk of liver and heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and mental deterioration, and even cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, and breast.
Get more sleep
You probably already know that a good night’s rest can do wonders for your mood—and appearance. But sleep is more beneficial to your health than you might realize.
A lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. And sleep is crucial for strengthening memories (a process called consolidation). So take a nap—and don’t feel guilty about it.