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10 New Year's Resolutions to Help Improve Your Health

January 05, 2016 Posted in: Personal Health , Article

Welcome to 2016, the year when doors will open and dreams will be realized. Yes indeed, it's another year of infinite possibilities, and if you're like most Americans, you've crystallized those hopes and dreams in the form of your latest New Year's resolutions.

If your hope is to make it rich, you may want to consult with Warren Buffett, but if your main intention is to get healthy, consider these 10 tips to guide your resolutions in the right direction:

  1. Find a sustainable meal plan. Notice how I didn't use the word "diet"? That's because the goal is absolutely not to find the next big fad that will help you quickly lose a bunch of weight -- just to regain it all back again. No, no, no, that's the stuff of 2015. Now you're wiser and more disciplined, which means you can find a meal plan to which you can consistently stick. For example, rather than completely cutting out carbs for the next two weeks, try to decrease your starch intake by 25 percent over the next 52.
  2. Sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, "sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being." Unfortunately, many of us don't get the recommended daily amount. Do a favor for your brain, organs, and circadian rhythm by trying to get more shut-eye. And here's some additional advice: Sleep doesn't mean scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat while lying in bed!
  3. Drink more water. This may be an obvious one, as we all know the benefits of this naturally produced liquid. Just to remind you, though, water helps eliminate waste within the body, keeps you hydrated, regulates body temperature, lubricates and protects your joints and spinal cord, and helps your muscles function properly.
  4. Laugh. Possibly the easiest thing you can do to improve your health this year is to laugh. Did you know that laughing helps reduce anxiety and achieves similar (short-term) positive changes in cardiorespiratory function to aerobic exercise? Seems like a good time to ditch the dramas for reruns of "Friends" and "Seinfeld."
  5. Exercise. Well, this is a shocker (excuse the sarcasm). Go for a walk, a jog, or a run. Lift a few weights, ride your bike to work, take a Pilates class, or jump some rope. Heck, do as much or as little exercise as you want, but above all else, just find some way to get moving that you enjoy and can regularly participate in -- whatever that may be. And for good measure, consult with a health care professional before you begin to make sure it's right for you.
  6. Don't forget about your mind. Mental health may not get the same recognition as physical health, but it absolutely should. Keep your mind -- and the ways you think and feel -- as healthy as you can by following the advice of professionals. And never, under any circumstances, feel too shy or intimidated to seek out help or simply someone to talk to.
  7. Practice mindfulness. Whether it's through meditation, prayer, or simple relaxation, find a place of peace where you can actively focus on your thoughts and feelings. Allow the stresses of today to fade and the worries of tomorrow to vanish. And before you write this off as hogwash, note that it has been proven effective in improving both anxiety and mood symptoms.
  8. Love. Laugh all you want (which, as noted above, is also good for you), but love and intimacy are linked to both mental and physical health and well-being. Don't be too macho to open up those hearts, gentlemen (and ladies).
  9. Give. Whether it's 10 dollars or 10 minutes, always remember that sharing is caring. But can charity affect our physical and emotional well-being? This isn't a fully developed area of research just yet, but it certainly can't hurt!
  10. Quit the bad. This is the year you will finally stop smoking -- or at least cut down. If you're not a smoker, limit your intake of processed foods, alcohol, or caffeine. Whatever your vice may be, make this the year in which you finally take control.

And just like that, 2016 will roll into 2017. As you watch the ball drop a year from now, how do you want to feel? Better yet, what do you think will feel better: realizing your dreams or having them pass you by (yet again)? Don't forget to keep chasing those New Year's resolutions, as doing so could make big differences in your overall happiness and health.