For many people, New Year’s resolutions are a curse. They’re bars that we set too high, ones that we can’t possibly overcome, and so we give up trying altogether. But of course, this is to miss the point of a resolution: it isn’t a pass-fail test, but rather a year-long practice, a mantra we set and work towards, a carrot dangling ever-ahead. Resolutions shouldn’t be a curse, but a constant nudge.
In this spirit of slow-and-steady-wins-the-race, it’s actually healthy and encouraging—rather than burdensome or depressing—to set resolutions for the year ahead. This time of the calendar year offers an opportunity to adjust our course by orienting ourselves towards a healthier lifestyle. This notion of a healthy lifestyle isn’t one-size-fits-all, though. Each person’s health is different, and so too are the changes they require in order to live healthy.
However, before setting your new year’s resolutions, you have to figure out what is you’re hoping to achieve—regardless of what the goal is, a resolution is only as sturdy as the end-point it’s committed to reaching. No need for hair-trigger decisions; take a week or two to work out where you’d like to be come January 2020, and go from there.
With that in mind, we’ve assembled some suggestions for working towards a conception of healthy living in 2019. From consumption habits to screen time to physical activities, our lifestyles are dictated by our routines in these little sectors of our lives. Here are some ways you can modify those routines in the coming year.
It’s almost undeniable now that we spend a lion’s share of our day staring at screens. Modern society necessitates a digital screen for virtually every job, and who doesn’t want to turn on Netflix after a long day of work? A recent study found that American adults spent over 11 hours a day looking at various screens—laptop, cell phone, television—and doctors have already warned of the health problems associated with excessive tech use: poor posture, neck pain, headaches. Cutting down screen time is essential for not just physical improvement, but mental wellness. Try implementing screen-free periods, both at work and at home. This requires discipline and accommodation (allot some basic organizational or writing tasks for this period at work, or some reading or exercise activities at home).
This is a popular resolution, but it’s a valid one nonetheless. In 2016, Time reported that a study found that only around a quarter of adult women and men were satisfied with their appearance and weight. Physical activity is one way to work on body image issues, but it also shifts over into other aspects of life: confidence, self-esteem, and general physical health all have positive correlative relationships with increased physical activity. This doesn’t just mean time on a treadmill—find an activity that’s right for you, and practice it this year.
Most resolutions around consumption habits carry a negative connotation: stop doing that, cut this out. This is where feelings of shame can intrude when we fail. Instead, it’s more constructive to put a positive spin on these resolutions. This strategy can mean replacing rather than removing; for example, replace a bag of chips with a fruit and vegetable. This sounds bland and obvious, but there are lots of ways to make this an enjoyable change. Take a look at your eating habits, and work out a personalized plan to rearrange your diet based on your needs and goals.