Realistic New Year’s Resolutions For A Healthier You

Some of us have given up on past New Year’s resolutions because they seem to inevitably fade away by spring. Before you totally throw out the tradition, it may be worth considering some simpler resolutions that can have lasting effects on your health. Making a point to trim down negative thoughts, chew your food more thoroughly, or take a short walk each day doesn’t require much effort, but it can make a big overall difference. Take baby steps toward a healthier you with these realistic New Year’s resolutions.

Make Your Plate More Colorful

Shopping For Vegetables At Price Chopper
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Sprinkled holiday cookies aren’t what we mean by making your plate more colorful. We’re talking about incorporating more produce into your meals so that they are vibrant and healthy.

Fruits and vegetables contain tons of micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, that help your body function at its best. Plus, the added color makes your meals more appealing. Before you reach for the bag of chips, eat some carrots or sliced bell peppers first. The extra chewing will leave you feeling more satisfied in the long run.

Learn A New Pastime

Getty Images
Getty Images

A 2016 study found that having a hobby had a positive impact on health and longevity. Though it can be tempting to sit in front of the television in your free time, it’s never too late to try something new.

Between online videos and books, you can learn a variety of pastimes, even without formal classes. Learn to crochet, enhance your artistic abilities, get into baking, or try yoga! Whatever it is you’ve been wanting to try, make it a part of your free time.

Practice Positive Self-Talk

Madonna
Michael McDonnell/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Michael McDonnell/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It can be easy to get down on ourselves, especially if we feel like we’re not progressing fast enough. However, a 2020 study at Eastern Michigan University found that negative self-talk leads to greater dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem.

In other words, being down on yourself doesn’t solve anything, and may even make it more difficult to move forward. Instead, try to appreciate where you are by practicing positive self-talk. Remind yourself of your best traits and accomplishments to become inspired to do great things.

Be Better About Flossing

Barbara Alper/Getty Images
Barbara Alper/Getty Images

It’s no secret that flossing is the key to a healthy mouth. One thing it helps prevent is periodontal disease. This common condition may be linked to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and more, according to the Journal of Oral Microbiology.

That’s why your dentist really isn’t kidding when they urge you to floss every day. Make it a goal to take flossing more seriously. Before long, you won’t feel ready for bed until you’ve done it.

Use Less Condiments

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Some of us are condiment kings and queens because the added flavor can enhance meals. However, it can also enhance calories, sugar, and sodium. Over time, your taste buds may get used to being overly stimulated, making foods seem boring on their own.

That’s why it may be a good idea to cut down or replace certain condiments. Top your salads with lemon juice, oil, or a simple vinaigrette, load your meat with seasoning instead of sauce, and avoid putting ketchup on absolutely everything.

Get Organized

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Being organized has numerous health benefits, such as reducing stress, enhancing sleep, and making it easier to keep a nutritious diet. You’re more likely to cook a healthy meal when the kitchen is clean and the items you need are accessible.

It’s easier to relax when your home isn’t full of clutter and everything has a place so you can find whatever you need. Getting rid of things you don’t need and coming up with a system of organizing can make your home even more of a sanctuary.

Chew Your Food A Little Longer

Goffredo di Crollalanza/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Goffredo di Crollalanza/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Digestion starts in your mouth since your saliva contains enzymes that help break down your food. Taking more time to chew not only helps your food go down more smoothly, but it also takes some of the load off of your stomach.

Furthermore, the longer it takes you to eat the more time you give your brain to process how full you are. Try to be a little more mindful of your food as you eat it, and don’t be in a rush to gulp it down if you don’t need to.

Take More Walks

Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images
Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images

Getting your steps in every day doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym seven days a week. There are plenty of habits you can make to get moving more. For example, take breaks throughout the day to go for a short walk.

You can also practice parking further away than needed to get some extra steps in. Getting your blood circulating can help relieve tension, especially if you sit at a desk all day long.

Cut Down On Unhealthy Beverages

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It can be easy to forget that what you drink has just as much of an impact on your health as what you eat. Overdoing it on adult beverages or sugary drinks can contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, cavities, and problems with your heart and liver.

To help limit the about of unhealthy beverages you drink, try counting your glasses of water each day. You can also opt for healthier substitutions, such as mocktails, tea, and sparkling water.

Create Habits That Improve Sleep Quality

Herbert Matter/Condé Nast via Getty Images
Herbert Matter/Condé Nast via Getty Images

If you’re feeling sluggish throughout the day, it may have to do with your sleep habits. For instance, if you fall asleep on the couch in front of the television, you may wake up stiff and less refreshed.

There are plenty of ways you can adapt your bedtime routine to ease into a deeper sleep. Some examples include avoiding screen time right before bed, not eating for a few hours prior to sleep, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, and turning down the lights while preparing for bed.

Practice Self-Care

Marcos Paulo Prado/Unsplash
Marcos Paulo Prado/Unsplash

Self-care is just another way of saying “me time.” It’s a designated part of your schedule that isn’t about crossing a task off your list. Rather, it’s an opportunity to do whatever helps you feel taken care of.

This might include taking a bath, writing in a journal, napping or meditating, calling a friend, going for a walk, or trying a class that piques your interest. These brief moments in the day can rejuvenate you emotionally, having a positive impact on your wellbeing.

Don’t Eat Out As Often

Jason Briscoe/Unsplash
Jason Briscoe/Unsplash

Even if you have the financial means to eat every meal out, it’s generally healthier to opt for cooking at home. A study consisting of over 11,000 participants found that those who ate three or fewer home-cooked meals were 28% more likely to be overweight than those who ate five or more.

When you make your meals, you have complete control over what goes into them. Plus, you’ll be limited by what you buy at the store, so there’s less temptation to overdo it on unhealthy ingredients.

Cut Down Or Swap Out Convenience Foods

Woman Choosing TV Dinner from Freezer
William Gottlieb/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
William Gottlieb/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Though eating at home is generally healthier than eating out, that all depends on what you’re preparing in the kitchen. Chips, cookies, frozen meals, and other convenience foods are often loaded with preservatives and high in sugar and salt.

If you need to cut down on time, consider meal prepping on the weekend. If avoiding convenience foods altogether seems like too much, try to opt for healthier brands that feature ingredients you can pronounce and are low in sodium, trans fats, etc.

Experience Nature More

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that spending time in nature reduces stress and blood pressure. Being outside is an excellent way to take a break from the demands of everyday life.

Even if you can’t make it to the closest nature trail, just visiting a local park can make a major impact on your mood. If you have a backyard or patio, you can also step out for a few minutes to soak up some sun.

Give Meditation A Try

Benjamin Child/Unsplash
Benjamin Child/Unsplash

A study review conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that meditation improves anxiety, depression, and pain. Though the practice is simple, the challenge of quieting the mind can take some practice.

It may be worth it to make a habit of meditating to see if you notice any improvements after a few weeks. At the very least, it may help you remember to live in the present moment. As they say, it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Go On Trips Or Have A Staycation

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Rich Pearce/Total 911 Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Vacations give you something to look forward to and break up the mundaneness of everyday life. Even if you’re only driving a short distance to your location, a change of scenery can make all the difference.

If leaving home isn’t possible, staycations can also be beneficial. Having a few days to relax in the comfort of your own space is like having an extended time of self-care. Take an extra-long weekend a few times throughout the year or plan for a chunk of time off.

Limit Your Social Media Time

Popularity Of Social Networking Website Grows
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Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Numerous studies have linked social media to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or depression. It may seem counterintuitive, but seeing the best parts of someone else’s life can cause you to draw assumptions about your own.

There are benefits to social media, but using it too much may be taking a toll on your outlook. Instead of mindlessly checking your accounts throughout the day, designate a certain time to go onto social media, and then keep it out of your mind.

Opt For More Natural Household Products

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Though it seems obvious what you put into your body impacts health, it’s easier to overlook how the things around you can impact you. For instance, beauty products containing chemicals seep into your pores.

Also, cleaning products can linger in the air and end up in your lungs. That’s why it may be worth opting for more natural cleaners, detergents, soaps, and makeup products. You don’t have to have allergies to benefit from fewer chemicals in your home.

Remember To Be Mindful

Clay Banks/Unsplash
Clay Banks/Unsplash

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to hardly notice the present moment. We already mentioned meditation as a way to become more mindful, but you don’t have to meditate to remember to acknowledge passing moments.

Try not to get lost in a train of thought while someone is talking. Make a habit of watching the sunset. Avoid going on your phone during pauses in the day. These are just some examples of living more mindfully.

Say Things You’re Grateful For Each Day

Gabrielle Henderson/Unsplash
Gabrielle Henderson/Unsplash

Especially when you’re going through a tough time, it can be incredibly difficult to remember to practice gratitude. Over time, this can result in a pessimistic outlook as you start to focus more on the negatives and less on the good things in life.

That’s why it can be highly beneficial to say a few things you’re grateful for each day. You can think them to yourself, share with a partner, or write it in a journal to look back on later on.

Schedule Routine Checkups

Jane Barlow – WPA Pool / Getty Images
Jane Barlow – WPA Pool / Getty Images

Routine doctor’s visits are one of the best ways to keep your health on track. Annual visits help to ensure that any problems are caught as soon as possible.

Likewise, dental visits help keep your teeth clean and healthy. Any other doctors you may need, such as the optometrist or dermatologist, can enhance your overall well-being. Especially if you’ve been avoiding an overdue visit, make a goal to schedule an appointment and keep up with follow-ups.

Create A Balanced Diet

Woman eating chocolate
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to go on a diet to lose weight. However, studies show that people who lose weight through a restrictive diet often gain the weight back relatively quickly.

Instead of cutting something completely out of your life, such as sugar, try to aim for a more balanced diet. Whittle your sugar intake down as you increase your produce intake, and so on. This way, you’re adjusting your lifestyle, rather than counting down to the days you can indulge again.

Eat More Healthy Fats

Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Though fats used to be considered something to avoid completely, we now know that the kind of fat makes all the difference. Omega fatty acids enhance health, so it’s imperative to incorporate them into your diet.

Foods like avocados, eggs, salmon, and nuts are packed with nutrients that will keep you feeling fuller longer. Eating these flavorful, nutrient-dense foods can make it easier to transition off of unhealthy snacks and cut down on refined carbohydrates.

Bring A Reusable Water Bottle Wherever You Go

Bluewater Globe/Unsplash
Bluewater Globe/Unsplash

One thing that prevents people from drinking enough water is not having any immediately available when out and about. A great goal would be to make a habit out of bringing a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go.

If you work in an office, get an extra-large water bottle to bring each day and try to finish it by the time you leave. This way, you’ll have a marker for how much water you’ve consumed that day.

Find A Form Of Exercise That You Enjoy

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Zumba Fitness
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Zumba Fitness

Many people commit to going to the gym as their New Year’s resolution, but find themselves avoiding it all over again within a couple of months. A more sustainable way to get enough exercise is to find an activity that you genuinely like.

Zumba became a huge hit because people lost weight without having to try. Whether you love to dancing, bike ride, do karate, or do yoga, find a way to make it a habit.

Get To Bed A Little Earlier

Chaloner Woods/Getty Images
Chaloner Woods/Getty Images

With all of the streaming services and social media platforms accessible today, there’s tons of temptation to stay up late. If you find yourself going to bed later than you’d like, try aiming to hit the hay half an hour earlier than usual.

One way to make this happen is to set an alarm that indicates when it’s time to wind down for bed. This way you know when it’s really time to turn off the television.

Perform Small Acts Of Kindness

Anna Hecker/Unsplash
Anna Hecker/Unsplash

One way to tackle feelings of anxiety or depression is to do things for others. Small acts of kindness are easy to achieve, but they make a big difference overall for both the giver and the recipient.

Hold the door open for a stranger, smile at passersby, call a relative unexpectedly, buy flowers for someone for no reason. As the saying goes, a little goes a long way, and that’s certainly true when it comes to kindness.

Practice Better Posture

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Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Poor posture can cause aches and pains in the short term, and result in a weakened back over time. Something simple that you can do every day is bring some attention to whether or not you’re slouching.

Try to sit up straight and stand tall as often as possible. Another thing that helps with posture is exercising. Working out your back and your core creates muscles that are better equipped to hold you in an upright position throughout the day.

Explore Where You Live More

Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Routine can weigh people down as they start to feel like every day is exactly the same. One way to break up the monotony is to get out and explore. You don’t have to spend a fortune traveling the world.

Just go out and look for new things to try in your neighborhood. Dine at a restaurant you’ve never been to or peek through shops. This also gives you the opportunity to meet new friends and gain a sense of belonging in the community.

Spend Screen-Free Time With Your Household

National Cancer Institue/Unsplash
National Cancer Institue/Unsplash

Between computers, laptops, iPads, cell phones, and televisions, there’s plenty of things to steal your attention from loved ones. That’s why it’s so important to have designated times in the day that are screen-free.

One popular example is dinnertime, but you can also have a screen-free breakfast together, or have a winddown session before bedtime. This habit gives households quality time together without any distractions, creating a greater sense of belonging and appreciation among members.

Opt To Take The Stairs

Anna Sullivan/Unsplash
Anna Sullivan/Unsplash

Even if you find it difficult to stick to a regular exercise schedule, you can still make little adjustments that make you more active. Simply taking the stairs as often as possible can keep you moving.

Just one flight of stairs will get your heart rate up slightly and help enhance circulation. It may also help ward off sluggishness and add a little pep to your step. You might even feel more motivated to hit the gym after.

Fill Your Home With Plants

Jane-Palash/Unsplash
Jane-Palash/Unsplash

Remember how we mentioned that researchers found a positive correlation between nature and mood? The same goes for house plants. Surrounding yourself with nature, even inside the home, can create a sense of ease.

If you’re a little worried about keeping a plant alive and well, start with just one. As with a pet, taking care of them becomes habitual in time. Just be sure to get plants the require the same amount of sunlight that your home has to offer.

Make Reading Or Audiobooks A Part Of Your Life

Clemens Bilan/Getty Images for Bread & Butter by Zalando
Clemens Bilan/Getty Images for Bread & Butter by Zalando

Research shows that reading has a positive impact on cognition and can help reduce stress. You don’t have to set out to finish a book a day, but engaging in some reading regularly may be worth the effort.

One idea would be to turn off the television a little early and unwind with a book. If your schedule is just too busy, you might consider trying out audiobooks while you drive, workout, or do chores.

Sanitize Your Cell Phone Often

Cleaning of the phone
TIROT/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
TIROT/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

These days, our cell phones go just about everywhere with us. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you clean yours regularly! There could be tons of bacteria on them that you don’t realize is getting onto your hands or being pressed against your face.

Keep disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer on you so you can disinfect your phone throughout the day. If you handled your phone while needing to wash your hands, wipe it down as soon as you do to avoid those same germs getting right back on you.

Donate Things You Don’t Need

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

We already mentioned getting organized, and part of that means getting rid of things you don’t need. Not only will you benefit from reduced stress since you have less clutter, but you’ll also feel good about giving to others.

To make the job even easier, have a running giveaway pile so that you don’t have to spend a day sorting through everything you own. When the pile gets large enough, you can make a trip to your local donation center and call it a day.

Make Your Bed Every Morning

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Along the lines of staying organized, making your bed in the morning can help you feel ready for the day. The habit signals to your body that it’s time to get up, and you’ll appreciate the tidy look throughout the day.

A good way to make this a regular part of your day is to incorporate it into your getting ready ritual. You might do it before you take a shower or after you’ve gotten dressed.

Fill Your Home With Pleasant Scents

BABY/Unsplash
BABY/Unsplash

Even if your home looks tidy and soothing, an unpleasant smell can make you feel high-strung. On the contrary, pleasant smells can make a space even cozier. There are tons of ways to make your environment scented and relaxing.

One of the most popular ways to do this is by getting some candles, which also creates mood lighting. You can also get a diffuser for essential oils, or try incense, potpourri, room sprays, or all of the above.

Update Your Pillows

bed-pillow
Isabella and Louisa Fischer/Unsplash
Isabella and Louisa Fischer/Unsplash

Pillows are incredibly easy to forget about, especially if you’ve found one that suits your sleeping needs just right. Amerisleep reports that you should update your pillows every one to two years.

That may seem like a long time until you realize you haven’t gone pillow shopping in ages. Pillows can harbor oil, skin cells, and hair, thus attracting dust mites that could be triggering your allergies. Make a point to update your pillows and to wash them as needed.

Take Your Coffee Unsweetened

Bryan Thomas/Getty Images
Bryan Thomas/Getty Images

If there’s one thing that’s an acquired taste, it’s coffee. We don’t mean the sweet, creamy kind, we mean black coffee. Many of us try to cover up the bitter taste with sugary additions, but those empty calories can add up.

Those of us who adore flavored creamer might try to make the switch to plain half and half instead. If you can’t live without your two pumps of vanilla, try taking it down to just one pump. Over time, your taste buds and cravings will adjust.

Pay More Than The Minimum Payment On Your Credit Card

Fistful Of Credit
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Credit card debt can be a nightmare thanks to high interest rates. To make matters worse, the minimum payment is often set so low that you’ll end up with way more debt over time.

That’s why it can be a good habit to try to pay more than the minimum payment each month. Even if it’s only a few dollars more, that will add up over time and reduce your stress as you see progress being made.