Who says you have to wait until New Year’s to take steps toward a healthier future?
By Angie Fenton
If you’re like most people, at some point you’ve made a New Year’s resolution. Then, like 92 percent of us, you failed to make it stick. Yet, instead of simply starting over – and over and over, if necessary – the majority of us wait until the beginning of the next year to make even more resolutions we probably won’t keep. Whether it’s the first month or the eleventh month of the year, why not resolve right now to make a change for the better? To help you get started, here are 9 resolutions to put you on the path to a healthier future.
1. Get organized Vow to spend 15 minutes a day for the next 30 days organizing one room at a time, piece by piece. Planning to donate what you don’t love? Keep a box or bag in the room and add to it each day. Once it’s full, put it in your car so the next time you leave your home it’s ready for drop-off at the nonprofit of your choice.
2. Lose five pounds (or more) Need to lose weight? Be specific about how much – consult your doctor for assistance – and then focus on your goal. Or, take baby steps and work to lose five pounds. Then, once you do, work to lose five more until you reach a healthy weight.
3. Stop smoking If you smoke, stop. Don’t know how? Google it. Talk to your doctor. Reach out to friends. Share your intention of quitting on social media and then post updates on your progress. Whatever works for you, do it. Smoking doesn’t just stink – it kills.
4. Start saving for a vacation Taking time off is good for our mental and physical well-being. Experts say the act of planning for one can increase happiness and going somewhere new gives our brains a change of scenery, which is beneficial in myriad ways.
5. Train for the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon Thousands of people walk or run the mini every year, including lots of first-timers. Have you ever watched Facebook light up with updates from finishers or local news media interview participants and thought, I wonder if I could do that, If so, start making strides right now. Local running stores – like Pacers & Racers in New Albany and Swag’s in Louisville – are valuable resources and can get you pointed in the right direction.
6. Unplug Vow to put aside all electronic devices one day a week. Can’t bear to go without for that long? Try half a day, implementing a “no electronics” during dinner rule or walk away from the cell phone/ipad/computer for a few designated minutes every day, like first thing in the morning or before bed. Commit to disengaging from your devices and engaging with family and friends. You’ll be amazed at the near-immediate benefits.
7. Sleep better When it comes to sleep, quality is as important as quantity. If you use your phone for an alarm clock, flip it on its face so the glowing light doesn’t keep or wake you up. Try meditating before bed to turn your mind off. There are tons of apps designed to assist rookie meditators. Go to bed on a schedule, even on the weekends. Whatever you do, resolve to make better sleep a priority.
8. Train your brain to be positive Experts say it is entirely possible to rewire our brains to perceive the positive aspects of life. For starters, simply thinking about what you’re grateful for throughout the day can increase the level of dopamine and can give, in a nutshell, a natural high. Also, feelings of gratitude can increase serotonin levels, a mood booster. Stop focusing on what you’ve done wrong and steer your thoughts to what you do right and well. Try thinking only about positive things for a few minutes a day for the next month or starting the day by writing down three things that make you happy.
9. Make people feel like they matter We are bombarded with messages of how awful human beings can be to one another, whether it’s unspeakable violence or the pervasive act of shaming others on social media. Challenge yourself to do something kind for someone else once a day/week/ month. Pay it forward at your local coffee shop or anonymously help out someone in need. Make this a habit and soon you’ll reap more than good karma.