By: Kristin Knight
Not only is it a new year, it’s also a new decade. Many people – nearly 40% of Americans – make new year’s resolutions, but how many actually keep those resolutions?
We’re all familiar with the January gym rush, but wouldn’t it be nice to set goals that are achievable and maintainable throughout the year? Here’s our top list of new year’s resolutions for a healthier you, even beyond January 31st.
Sit less, move more
Being active doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym every day; there are plenty of simple ways to fit in more movement each day. Headed to the sixth floor of the ZSR? Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Live off-campus? Consider walking to class a few days a week. Even a long day of studying doesn’t mean you have to be stuck to a chair all day. Set a timer for 1 hour; when the timer goes off, take a 5-minute study break to do something active and then reset the timer. Check out this blog article to learn about the “Sticky Note Challenge.”
Limit screen time
Let’s face it, we use technology all. the. time. Social media is the first thing I look at when I wake up, and the last thing I look at before going to bed. In order to make this resolution attainable, it’s important to be realistic! Cutting out social media or any unnecessary screen time completely would be nearly impossible for some, but it’s a good idea to limit your usage. Too much screen time can negatively affect your mental health and quality of sleep (and quantity if you’re a fan of Netflix binging). Try eliminating screen time before bed – start with just 10 minutes and work up to an hour. Instead of scrolling social media or watching Netflix, try reading for pleasure, practicing yoga (blog about this?), or meditating.
Adopt a positive attitude
Being a “glass half full” type of person can actually be a major benefit. If you’re able to see the bright side of a situation, it’s easier to clear your mind and focus on the things you can control. This helps you better identify the problem, and untimely find a solution rather than being weighed down by the situation. Try taking time each day to recognize all the good things in your life; positivity and gratitude can go a long way.
Spending more time outdoors is a simple way to improve your mood, relieve stress, and even lower blood pressure. With swings across campus, the beautiful Reynolda trails (link map), and hiking nearby, it’s easy to make getting outdoors one of your new year’s resolutions.
Meditation is a great way to boost your mental wellbeing. Clearing your mind and focusing on your breathing for just a few minutes each day can significantly improve your mood, not to mention your ability to focus. Check out this blog article to learn more about mediation.
Stay in touch
Social connections are a HUGE part of your mental health, so staying in touch with friends and family is more important than you realize. With busy academic schedules, it can be difficult to set aside time to call your parents or grab dinner with friends. However, doing so will boost your mood and improve your mental health. Not only will you be helping yourself, you’ll also be helping your friends and family.
Find a physical workout you love
If you’ve never been a big runner, making a resolution to run a half marathon might not work out so well. Becoming more active is a great resolution, so don’t be afraid to take your time figuring out what works best for you. Setting a goal of doing something active 4 days a week gives you the opportunity to try everything from yoga to body combat, rather than dreading going on a run every day. Check out our group fitness schedule to see which classes inspire you!
Cut back on alcohol
In excess, alcohol consumption can negatively affect both your physical and mental health and prevent you from reaching your other wellness goals. While drinking in moderation can be part of a healthy diet, it’s a good idea to limit your consumption. Consider how much you typically consumer over a given period of time; slowly begin decreasing your consumption until you reach your new desired amount. Try drinking sparkling water with lime or a fun mocktail if you feel yourself missing your typical alcoholic beverage.
Get more sleep
At a minimum, you should be getting 7 hours of sleep a night. Without adequate sleep, you put yourself at higher risk for a variety of health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. With busy schedules, it can be hard to get enough sleep each night. Try writing down a bedtime on your to-do list or daily schedule. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep earlier, try moving your bedtime back by just 15 minutes; once you get used to that bedtime, move it back another 15 minutes and so on until you reach your desired early bedtime. Waking up and going to bed at roughly the same time every day is the best way to develop a routine. Check out this blog article to learn how to get a restful sleep.
Do something for yourself each day – it’s not selfish, it’s actually super important. Practicing self-care is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing; furthermore, it’s completely doable, even with a demanding course load. Making time to have breakfast before class, putting on a facemask before bed, or even getting an extra hour of sleep are great ways to prioritize yourself. By paying attention to your needs, you’ll give yourself the energy and support you need to be successful.
Hopefully these ideas with make 2020 the year you stick with your new year’s resolutions. Health goes far beyond physical fitness, so it’s important to think about all aspects of your mental wellbeing. Remember to set goals that are challenging, yet achievable. This will motivate you to keep working towards them while preventing you from giving up by February. It’s better to be successful in a few important areas than to spread yourself too thin. Here’s to a fantastic decade, Deacs!