Many people use the new year for resolutions about health and wellness, but sometimes striving to meet those resolutions can become a source of stress that is, itself, not good for your heath.
If you dissect the term "resolution," it literally means to repeat a solution. It's no wonder so many of us end up making (and breaking) the same resolutions over and over again. But that doesn't mean you can't make meaningful changes in the coming year. Experts increasingly agree that most people would do better to use an approach that's more connected to personal EV-olution than RE-solution.
Here are some recommendations:
1. Add rather than subtract. Why start the new year operating from a negative when there are plenty of simple things you can add to your routine that can improve health and wellness. For example, instead of rigorously subtracting things from your diet, try adding a serving of vegetables to every meal. The National Cancer Institute recommends increasing your intake of veggies, fruit and whole grains.
This strategy doesn't just apply to nutrition. Adding just 20 minutes of sleep each night can positively impact your energy and attention. The results over time may surprise you, and soon you could be working from a new norm.
2. Reverse engineer your resolutions. Reflect on the resolutions you tend to make, including (or especially) the ones you have trouble keeping. Rather than focusing on what they require you to DO (lose weight, read more, drink less), explore what they say about the type of person you'd like to BE. This may help clarify your deeper motivations and intentions.
Which brings us to the next, and perhaps best, advice for making changes in the new year.
3. Pick a theme. Not a target. Targets are fixed, but themes can help shape and guide. Chose a word that describes a state-of-being or a quality that you want to cultivate in the coming year. For example, if you've been feeling adrift or are compelled to make a bunch of resolutions about time management, perhaps your theme for the year is "clarity" or "intentionality." As the year unfolds, keep your theme in mind and as often as you can, seek to align your actions, decisions and the ways you spend your downtime.
What's the main take-away here? Rather than the old concept of resolutions, seek instead to determine the environment or qualities you'd like for yourself, and then let that serve as a guiding influence as you move through the year ahead. This "work in progress" approach is less punitive and also more closely models the way lasting change occurs.