How To Start 2020 Off On The Right Foot
If you’re motivated by new beginnings and fresh starts, the start of the new year and new decade tomorrow should have you pretty fired up. Whether you’re looking to make big changes to your routine or just finally stick with a certain healthy habit, here are some ways you can set yourself up for success.
Stick With Realistic Resolutions
While it’s awesome to set big goals for yourself, it’s important to make sure they’re achievable. Giving up carbs cold turkey, or declaring you’ll be going to hit the gym 7x a week when the only exercise you’re currently getting is walking your dog around the block, are the type of resolutions that only last a few days. By setting the bar too high, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Consider a goal that motivates and excites you, but is still achievable given where you’re currently at, keeping in mind that you can build off of this as the year goes on. Setting and accomplishing small goals can lead to big changes.
Mindfully Manage Stress
Our bodies’ physiologic response to stress evolved to help us fight or flee when faced with life threatening situations. This was incredibly useful when our ancestors were running from bears, but this has become problematic today as many of us are stressed on a daily basis. Chronic stress results in high cortisol levels which can lead to weight gain, poor immune function, sleep disturbances, digestive issues, and can even impact fertility. In short - managing your stress is critical to your health! Whether it’s exercise, meditation, yoga, taking a walk, or winding down with a hot bath, find a daily practice that works for you.
Get Going With Gratitude
As Oprah famously states, “Be thankful for what you have, and you’ll end up having more”. It's not just Oprah whose touting the positive effects of gratitude as new research is demonstrating other benefits from practicing gratitude. Clinical studies have shown that feelings of gratitude are associated with improved mental health1, HbA1c (an indicator of blood sugar control)2, and overall health-related quality of life3. What you focus on you create more of, so giving your time and attention to the things you don’t like about your life is counterproductive. Instead try focusing on all that you’re grateful for (this can be things, experiences, people, etc.). Taking just a few minutes a day to write out or meditate on what you’re grateful for can seriously improve your mental and physical health, and make you an all around more enjoyable person to be around. And who doesn’t want that?
1. Y. Joel Wong, Jesse Owen, Nicole T. Gabana, Joshua W. Brown, Sydney McInnis, Paul Toth & Lynn Gilman (2018) Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial, Psychotherapy Research, 28:2, 192-202, DOI: 10.1080/10503307.2016.1169332
2. Neal Krause, Robert A. Emmons, Gail Ironson & Peter C. Hill (2017) General feelings of gratitude, gratitude to god, and hemoglobin A1c: Exploring variations by gender, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12:6, 639-650, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2017.1326520
3. McGuire, A. P., Szabo, Y. Z., Murphy, K. M., & Erickson, T. M. (2019). Direct and Indirect Effects of Trait and State Gratitude on Health-Related Quality of Life in a Prospective Design. Psychological Reports. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033294119868784