As the first month of this new decade has ended, so have the thousands of unfulfilled New Year’s Resolutions. However, unlike February, none of the resolutions seem to be starting. With the combination of a New Year’s Eve party sugar rush and excitement surrounding the new decade, once enthusiasm-filled resolutions commonly, and unfortunately, become empty promises. Seeking changes like weight-loss, or a more fresh perspective on life can feel overwhelming, leaving people with little guidance and motivation. However, by following these seven, gradual yet impactful New Year’s resolutions, you will be able to break the habit of ditching New Year’s resolutions and achieve a happier and healthier lifestyle through simple mends to your daily life.
1. Drink more water:
Drinking water is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy life. Water can improve aspects of one’s physical, internal, and mental health and has no disadvantages. Some outward benefits include clearer and younger looking skin and stronger hair and nails. Internally, water allows for the proper function of many vital organs, and it boosts your immune system and energy level which may prevent sickness. Water also provides necessary minerals and nutrients as well as regulating a majority of the body’s systems. It can aid weight loss by creating a feeling of fullness in order to prevent binge eating and snacking. Water also boosts athletic performance. Seriously, there are no downsides to drinking water.
The general rule of thumb with water is that thirst is a sign of dehydration, so strive to never feel thirsty by drinking at minimum two to three full glasses at every meal, and well beyond if you are exercising or on the go. While making the dramatic switch to drinking more water can seem daunting, an easy way to track your intake is through a journal, or free, creative app like “Plant Nanny,” which waters a plant based on how much you drink. While “Plant Nanny” is definitely one of the most fun water-tracking apps, as seeing your intake fuel a plant’s progress is rewarding, traditional tracking apps also exist. Similarly to how good music and a cute workout outfit can motivate people to exercise, buying a fun, sustainable, and thermal water bottle, like the incredibly popular Hydro Flask or Swell, can have the same effect. And, you will feel extra-accomplished for being environmentally conscious. Almost every reusable water bottle is between 12-48 ounces with its size labeled on the bottom, which is a helpful tool for meeting the daily goal of 64 ounces. If a virtual plant and pastel blue Hydro Flask won’t persuade you enough, adding fruits and vegetables can add some variability to your drinking routine. Recommendations include sliced cucumbers, lemons, or sprinkling some fresh mint into your glass. Bonus points for Instagramming the concoction in a clear bottle and instantly becoming the health guru in your friend group.
2. Exercise most days of the week.
Exercise, even in small doses is scientifically proven to release endorphins, which equates to happiness. Although one should aim for daily exercise, life’s commitments, and life’s distractions, can make this difficult to maintain. Therefore, the most sustainable way to exercise more in 2020 is at least 15 minutes of sweat-inducing exercise at least four days a week, while aiming for even more than recommended. Whether it be trying out a local spin class, finding an at-home leg workout, or jogging around your neighborhood, any exercises that boost your heart-rate are highly encouraged. Fulfilling this 15 minute requirement can also be substituted for a less-strenuous, 30 minute (or more!) walk or bike ride.
Here comes the hard part: finding the motivation to exercise. Pulling oneself off of the couch in sweatpants to run two miles is much easier said than done. Especially with the cold winter season, even changing into workout gear feels challenging. By finding a cute, coordinated set you love wearing, your pre-workout mirror selfies and compliments from other gym-goers should urge you to workout. Another useful strategy is crafting a hype playlist full of your favorite upbeat songs that will make you feel energized despite probably feeling like your limbs are about to fall off. Spotify has plenty of pre-made playlists that update weekly to keep your gym sessions current, but designing your own unique playlist works just as perfectly.
3. Spend less time on social media
Needless to say, falling down the TikTok rabbit hole is inevitable at times and highly entertaining. However, even watching ten-second videos adds up quickly and by the time you’ve finished your binge, hours of time you could have been doing homework have gone to waste. Unfortunately for your time management skills, social media is programmed to be addictive and time-consuming. While many can argue platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are necessary to communicate with friends, stay trendy, and express creativity, almost every user becomes dependent on checking their feed every ten seconds and can waste valuable time. When you check social media rather than doing homework or spending time with friends and family, stress levels increase dramatically and rather than feeling more connected to those you care about, the opposite effect can happen. Therefore, a hard, yet attainable with dedication, New Years Resolution is to spend less time on social media and more time doing non-electronic hobbies, with friends and family, or completing assignments.
If cutting down social media time is too difficult to begin with, a first step would be getting all necessary work completed before watching hundreds of Tik Tok. By completing homework before hopping online, you will be way less stressed and feel less guilty about spending so much time on your phone. Like all resolutions, this is much easier said than done. If refraining from checking social media before finishing all important tasks is too difficult, budgeting five-minute phone breaks keeps cravings minimal.
A great technique to limiting time on social media is the Downtime function available on most iPhones. Going completely cold turkey and allowing an hour or less collectively on social media (which seems like a lot, but really isn’t) can only be achieved through a gradual process of slowly decreasing your time limit on social media. And, no social media doesn’t mean no communication with friends. It’s much more meaningful, and interesting, to Facetime or call with your friends than send selfies back and forth. Of course, hanging out in person with those you care about isn’t always convenient, so Facetiming is a practical alternative and often just as fun.
4. Spend more time with friends...
Consequently, from spending less time on social media, more time will be available to cherish with those you care about. Although it feels unnecessary to plan special activities outside of one's typical time with friends at school, or the family members you live with, doing designated activities together is vastly different, and much more interesting, than your usual routines. For example, planning to grab dinner with some friends outside of school in addition to your lunch times together can strengthen your relationships and provide tons of memories. Whether it's studying together or working out (as I previously recommended), your productivity will increase as you are having fun in the process. Therefore, time with friends, even in small doses or doing typically "boring" activities can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health and work/school life- depending on how productive those coffee shops study sessions truly are. The comfort of having your friends around will boost your mood. And, many of these other resolutions can be turned into unique hangouts! Even simple things like watching a movie or driving around with Spotify blasting in the background are chill, cheap, and great ways to get in more quality time with those you care about. Also, try hanging out with people you may not be as close with. The only way lasting friendships are made is through hanging out with one another. Who knows, maybe one laser tag match is the start of a lifelong friendship.
5. And family.
It is just as important to balance a healthy social life and time spent with friends as it is to be around your family. Since most people live with their immediate family, it can become customary to take family time for granted. Family members essentially are built-in friends, and although it may not always feel that way, one should take advantage of having this constant support system. Relatives truly shape one's life and typically understand each other better than anyone else in the world. Chances are, your shared qualities and memories will make activity planning much more simple as you already know their favorite restaraunts, schedules, etc. Because you share this deep connection, talking with and being around your family can be more than just fun and full of laughs- it can also be therapeutic. People tend to find their parents and siblings provide the best advice. Now, this doesn't mean turning your sister into a full-time therapist who is consistently at your disposal, but embracing this support can be incredibly beneficial. To make matters more convenient, distance is not an issue when it comes to hanging out with your family. No need to worry about rides when you're already several feet apart!
6. Learn from others.
With all this time you will now be spending with others, you will subconsciously be learning lots of new things. It can be hard to imagine as these "things" may not be concrete facts like when the Declaration of Independence was signed, but learning is a side effect of hanging out with people. One strategy teachers use is the tendency to remember things more if your friends tell you. I tend to believe this is very accurate. Unfortunately for my Chemistry grade, I tend to remember more about my friends' preferences and lives than the difference between different classifications of chemical solutions. Although it's arguable this information is less important, knowing random facts about people tends to come in handy, and is crucial to building close relationships with others. Beyond these tidbits about your friends and family, people aquire the traits of those they spend time with. I'm not just talking about your parents starting to use the terms you say in order to be more trendy. It's not secret there is a strong correlation between how nice your friends are and how nice you will be. By immersing oneself in uplifting, positive, and kind relationships, these qualities will carry over. Try pinpointing what makes your friends and family members so great and try and embody that aspect in your own life. Learning how to treat others is a lesson that can't be taught in school, so it's up to you to choose friends and family who will foster and build upon the qualities you wish to strengthen. As everyone carries a unique perspective on life, there is always more ways to broaden your views. Whether it be from those you most expect it from- like your parents- or those you least expect if from- like your younger siblings- every interaction is an opportunity for learning and benefitial to one's life.
7. Love yourself and care less about what others think.
The only way to make any of these resolutions a reality is through self care and loving onself. Without self-love, the confidence necessary to implement these changes and improve one's life won't be possible. Therefore, take the New Year as a diving-board into achieving your maximum confidence and love in yourself. This has to be the hardest resolution on this list, as it's the one that takes the longest to do, varies from person to person, and often involves overcoming years of challenges. No one can instantly begin feeling 100% comfortable in their own skin, and that is completely normal. Strategies for this one are a bit more complicated as no two people respond or act the same. A first step can be becoming non-reliant on others for validation. Living judgment-free is crucial to gaining more love for oneself. Therefore, act without worrying about the opinions of others and the fear of being shamed or judged for things you say or do. Doing things purely to make yourself happy will become routine and boost your confidence. However, there is a difference between not worrying about what others think and never listening to others. Accepting compliments or constructive advice from people is encouraged, but obsessing over how others react to your choices in unhealthy. In a world filled with billions of different opinions, pleasing everyone is an unrealistic expectation, so focusing on your own happiness should be a priority. Plan a spa day to yourself, or paint your nails. Whatever makes you feel most confident should be a must. Try on a new outfit or wear the clothes you feel confident in Never feel ashamed to treat yourself!
By containing the list to seven manageable resolutions, one is more likely to achieve them all. A useful tip can be keeping this list on your phone and setting a daily reminder, modifying it based on your progress. Good luck!