A New Year is the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter in your life. It's a new adventure, a new beginning, a fresh canvas to paint your life on.
Make the coming year your best one yet with these ten new year's resolutions that are guaranteed to boost your happiness and wellbeing:
#1 Practice focused breathing
Learning how to control your breathing is one of the most powerful ways to manage all kinds of feelings and emotions. Your state of mind and emotions are closely connected to how you are breathing. When you feel stressed, anxious or afraid, your breath becomes short and shallow which activates your sympathetic nervous system—commonly referred to as the fight or flight response. When relaxed and calm, the breath is slow and full and your parasympathetic nervous system is engaged, creating a rest and digest response. By practicing slow, controlled, focused breathing you can send a signal of calm and relaxation to the mind and change the way you feel at any moment. Conscious breathing can also boost your energy levels, focus and creativity at work and everyday life.
#2 Read more books
There's a reason why highly successful people invest their time in reading books. They not only impart knowledge but also boost your productivity, sharpen your focus and memory, improve sleep and help you become more empathetic. Researchers also believe that reading may help prevent cognitive decline as it involves active mental engagement. Moreover, according to a study conducted by the University of Sussex, reading for just six minutes can reduce stress by 68%, making it a more effective way to unwind than listening to music or having a cup of tea.
#3 Eat mindfully
According to a recent report by Daily Harvest, nearly half of Americans define their diet as “unhealthy.” In fact, 57% of Americans don’t even look at the amount of sugar, sodium or protein in their food prior to purchase. Being mindful of the foods entering your body isn’t necessarily about counting calories or tracking carbs, but rather approaching food in a way that evokes an awareness of what nourishes the mind, body and soul. Having this awareness can help reduce binge eating and promote easier digestion, which ultimately increases the enjoyment of food and gives you full control of your diet. There are plenty of ways to practice mindful eating in the year ahead. Take time to create a detailed shopping list before heading to the grocery store. By doing so, you are identifying what foods will benefit you the most and set a path for what your diet looks like for the week ahead—ensuring you are giving your body and mind what it needs to perform at its best.
#4 Learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby
Learning a new skill or activity can do wonders for your brain health. Think of your brain as a muscle. You need to regularly exercise it to keep it functioning optimally, learning something new is a great way to do that. Learning new skills and keeping your brain active can also help to protect you against dementia. In addition, learning can increase your psychological well-being by increasing your self-esteem. So, whether it’s learning a new language, taking up an art class, dabbling in music or mastering an athletic activity, go for whatever piques your interest.
#5 Be more kind to yourself
People can be hard on themselves for a variety of reasons. The first step towards cultivating self-acceptance is to understand what this term actually means. Practicing self-acceptance is about accepting yourself as a human being who has strengths as well as limitations, imperfections as well as the potential for growth. It also involves being kind to yourself and feeling good about yourself despite your perceived flaws, past experiences and life choices. Make self-acceptance a habit by paying attention to your inner dialogue. If you notice that your inner self-critic is coming out, silence it by redirecting your thoughts to a positive place.
#6 Break a sweat
Despite its proven benefits, over 75% of Americans don't get enough exercise for optimal health. Regular exercise doesn't just make you physically healthy but also improves your mood, stimulates creativity, enhances memory and increases your productivity, among other things. Also, research shows that spending as little as ten minutes on working out is good enough to reap its health benefits. So, renew your resolve to get more exercise this year. Go for long runs, swim, hike, try kickboxing, whatever floats your boat.
#7 Slow down
If you think always keeping several balls in the air makes you more productive, you might want to reconsider. Multitasking might give you the illusion that you’re getting more done and being more efficient. But in reality, your attention is divided, so your work quality might suffer and you might actually be less productive because you’re distracted and prone to interruption. Similarly, overcommitting is also counter-productive and can contribute to high levels of stress. When you make habits out of multitasking and overcommitting, you run the risk of putting your body into a prolonged period of stress which takes a toll on both your physical and mental health. This can contribute to the onset of burnout, body aches and pains, mental fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety, depression and many other health problems. So, what should you do? It's quite simple really, slow down! Literally slow down each individual activity you do and focus on only one task at a time. Put away the electronic devices, turn off the TV, and remove all other distractions. By slowing down and being more present in the moment you can truly take in and enjoy the experience. Avoid overcommitting and try to find ways to simplify your life and make time for rest and leisure.
#8 Get more sleep
Your sleeping habits have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Sleep represents a third of every person’s life and it has a tremendous impact on how we live, function and perform during the other two-thirds of our lives. It is indeed as vital as the air we breathe and the food we eat, especially for those with chronic diseases or compromised immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), one in three U.S. adults don't get enough shut-eye. Frequently skimping on sleep can have an array of adverse effects on your health, including an increased risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, dementia and heart disease. Bottom line: make sleep a priority.
#9 Cut back screen time
Unplug from technology as much as possible. When you stay connected all the time, you’re likely to become distracted every time you get a notification. Try putting your phone, tablet or computer in another room or at least not within hand’s reach. Having a device at your fingertips can be tempting and you can easily find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media, checking your email or playing a game. You may also feel obligated to give in to the demands of others whenever you receive a text message, a phone call or an email. Also, consider deleting apps that you rarely use and unfollowing people and pages that you feel are toxic.
#10 Prioritize yourself
It is important to realize that when you put yourself first, everyone else benefits. No one wins when you are burnt out, frazzled and grumpy. So, when you find yourself going into that frenzied state, do whatever you need to do to get yourself out of it—go for a long walk, have coffee on your own or take a relaxing bath. Block out at least ten minutes a day to do something that you enjoy or find relaxing. Put a daily reminder on your calendar if you need to.