Resolution one, take more self-control and write your own lists. Come on guys. We’re just kidding! We all have so much going on these days and we don’t have to tell you how hard even planning or thinking about the future (beyond that little anxiety problem) can be. To make kicking off a great 2017 a little more doable, we sat down with our expert health team to discuss the best ways to make this year great for your body and mind. Let’s get started.
1. Decrease the Social Media (oh the irony)
No high horses here. We get it, and we all use social media. You probably even came across this article on a social media site! But there’s no doubt that social media has become controversial in the medical community. The US National Institutes of Health continues to monitor research around the link between depression and social media and some even argue that social media use can hurt your career.
Here’s what we do know… habitual use of social media to fill the quiet moments is probably the real problem. This can interfere with mindfulness, your engagement with those around you, and – depending on the sites you use – may lead to a worsened self image. Always remember, you’re watching someone’s highlight reel in social media and you’re probably comparing that to your normal life. How can you cut out social media from your life?
2. Drop the Negative Self Talk
When you think about it, loving yourself is one of the absolute healthiest things you can do. You’re who you are for countless, interesting reasons and people love you for exactly that.
This year, embrace yourself and make a conscious decision to be less critical of yourself each day. How do you do this? Start with some alone time for self-appreciation. Some advocate the “spirit journey” approach but the setting is less important than the focus. Review yourself, give a self-hug to those things that make you you, and set a vision for the small tweaks you can do each day to be even better. By taking control and first protecting “you” through self-respect, you’ll start finding a little more pride – and less negative self-talk -- in your everyday accomplishments.
3. Go Out and Volunteer – Even Just a Little
The many health benefits of volunteering are widely studied and shown. Helping others is linked to happiness, better heart health, and more. But as a Harvard Health blog addressed, “the journal Health Psychology found that participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic. In other words, they had to be volunteering to help others—not to make themselves feel better.”
This year, find a cause you care about and consider how you can get more involved; even in a small way to start.
4. Learn Something You’re Too Old to Learn
We all have that one thing we always wanted to learn. Whether it’s playing an instrument, learning to dance, knitting, coding, heck, are you the person that never learned to swim? Regardless of what you wanted to learn, it’s not too late to do it. And psychology experts are big advocates of tackling that challenge.
With major benefits for self-esteem and self-efficacy, learning something new is a powerful tool for bettering your life. In discussing this pursuit, one psychology review group explained that “learning something new in one area of our lives can trigger ideas in another. So curiosity and creative thinking go hand-in-hand. This can also help with creating what psychologists call ‘flow’ or ‘being in the zone’ – when we’re so absorbed in what we’re doing, we lose sense of time and of ourselves.” It’s never too late, resolve to do it this year.
5. DTR with the Scale
It’s time to Define the Relationship (DTR) with your scale. Here’s the flat fact. Weighing yourself and monitoring improvement is totally fine and absolutely has a benefit. Setting goals for your target weight and knowing where you are within that process can be helpful for self-improvement and we have no problem with keeping an eye on your body. That said, obsessing over that 3 digit number called “your weight” is a bad way to approach your overall health.
Your flat weight doesn’t take into consideration muscle to body fat ratios, the food in your system at different times of day, what you’re wearing (unless you’re the shower-time scale junkie), and many other variables. Relying on weight as the primary metric for physical health is just not a great method. Challenge yourself this year to care less about the scale and more about how you feel after sticking your fitness goals for a whole week.
6. Take the Time to Find a Better Workout Routine
Way back in 2013, a study found that most people (more than 50% of those who quit within a year) drop their fitness resolutions within 6 weeks of the new year. Be sure to get a monthly membership guys! The thing is, the major reason that people end their workout plans has nothing to do with not wanting toget more fit, it’s about motivation. When a workout plan is boring, overly complex, too advanced or too entry-level, people just loose the drive to keep going.
This year, take the time to find the right workout plan for you. Do this before you set a commitment to actual time in the gym, on the trail, on the water, etc.
There are many experts, books, and websites that can help with finding a good workout plan and if you’re at a loss, we recommend starting with the often-intimidating-but-actually-helpful Bodybuilding.com Plan Finder to find a workout plan (and diet guide to match) that sounds perfect for you. They even provide a free fitness app called BodySpace for tracking all of your fitness goals and workouts from the community.
7. Learn to Use a Pomodoro Timer
Here’s one you’ve probably not thought of for health; The Pomodoro Technique. This is a popular productivity “hack” that we actually love. Developed back in the 80s and named after a kitchen timer that looks like a tomato, the Pomodoro Technique is a method for time management where you essentially give yourself 25 minutes (or around that) and then 5 minute breaks. This process repeats while you tackle your work day.
So why is this good for health? Stress management, that’s why. Stress impacts happiness (duh), sleep quality, hormone levels, and even body fat. We like the Pomodoro Timer because it allows you to simply get more done (if you adopt the practice) while still having a healthy amount of break time while getting things done. There are some great apps for both phones and desktop and we love Marinara Timer for our work machine.
8. Be the “Team Leader” in Your Life
Leadership takes a bit of fearlessness and confidence in the face of challenges with hard-to-know outcomes. A life challenge that many of us face is making a personal change that we know, deep down, would be better for us. As Psychology Today explains, “It's a strange yet undeniable phenomenon that life seems to take a natural drift, or current, toward what we don't want, toward what will actually steal life from us.”
We all struggle with this sense of “things just not going right” from time to time and the truth is, positive change takes personal decisiveness. Those things you keep wanting really may be waiting for you – you just have to go after it. Once more from our friends at Psychology Today, “The most likely reason that you haven't been able to make the change so far is that you haven't accepted or recognized how much effort it will take to turn things around. Have you been waiting to "feel like doing it"? That may never, ever happen, so stop waiting.”
Write down your goals, give them a due date, and get after it.
The team here at EverlyWell hopes you had a great week of holidays and we'd love to be a part of your healthy year as well. Be sure to visit us often to learn more about promotions during the new year and our exciting next health test kits being rolled out very soon. Happy New Years and here's to a great 2017!