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Quit Making Resolutions You Can’t Keep

Quit Making Resolutions You Can’t Keep

How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution and never really followed through? The standard “lose weight” and “stress less” empty promises we make are often derailed when reality sets in. Those broad, vague resolutions never really come to fruition. Face it, change is hard.

Why Do We Make Resolutions?

Ancient people first practiced the fine art of New Year’s resolutions. The Babylonians celebrated the New Year 4,000 years ago and would reaffirm loyalty to the king and to their gods. Centuries later, Romans celebrated the beginning of a new year by swearing an oath of loyalty to the Emperor

There’s no direct line from ancient Roman tradition to modern New Year’s resolutions, but the desire to start anew appears repeatedly in western civilization. In 1740, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, invented a new type of church service called Covenant Renewal Services or “watch night” services. These events were held during the Christmas and New Year season as an alternative to holiday partying. Today, these services are often held on New Year’s Eve when worshippers sing, pray, reflect on the year, and renew their covenant with God.

In much more recent times a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that six months into the year, fewer than half, 46%, of resolvers were still keeping to their pledge. Granted, that’s a better track record at self-improvement than people who make no resolutions at all (only 4% of those achieved success).

Though it may seem impossible to actually stick to a resolution, there is a way. Instead of focusing on just one large issue altogether, break it up! Start with one small, specific goal that’s actually attainable. Instead of “I want to lose weight” think, “I will go to that kickboxing class on Tuesdays.”

Take Care of Your Body

Resolve to walk at least five minutes per day. It may not sound like much, but it’s all about setting the groundwork to make exercise a habit. After the first week or two, bump those five-minute walks up by another five minutes until you’re walking 30 minutes or more a day.

Resolve to challenge yourself with one activity that’ll really make your body work. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, but maybe you’ve always wanted to sweat it out in a Bikram yoga class or maybe you’ve only ever been able to run one mile at a time. Push for two miles! Take the class! By accomplishing one thing you may be surprised you’ll want to continue.

Resolve to list three things you’re thankful for each day. Negative thoughts can zap your energy, but this exercise can help even the grumpiest person feel more positive.

Resolve to laugh more. Laughter can not only make you happier, but healthier as well. Researchers at Loma Linda University Medical Center found that laughter can increase endorphins (those feel-good chemicals responsible for a “runner’s high”), reduce stress hormone levels and boost your immune system.

Resolve to nap when needed. If you don’t get a full seven to nine hours of sleep, recharge with a catnap. Set your alarm for 20 to 30 minutes and enjoy a midday slumber. Don’t hit the snooze button, though. Napping too long can interrupt your nighttime sleep.

Resolve to turn off the TV. A recent Nielsen study found that Americans are watching more TV than ever before—an astonishing 158 hours a month—plus close to an additional nine hours on computers, tablets, and smartphones. All that TV watching could kill you. An American Heart Association study revealed those who watched four hours or more TV each day were 80% more likely to die from heart disease and 46% more likely to die from other causes, compared to those who watched less than two hours. This was mainly due to all that sitting—too much muscle inactivity disrupts your metabolism.

Resolve to limit your time on social media. Research proves what many of us already know—looking at the highly curated lives of our “friends” on social media websites can leave us feeling somewhat diminished. We’re happy with our holiday in Myrtle Beach until we find out a friend vacationed in the Maldives. In 2016, make the effort to interact with more people on a face-to-face basis. Neglecting the basic human need for social connection can have serious health consequences. Feeling extreme loneliness can increase your chances of premature death and social isolation can be as harmful as cigarettes and drinking to your health.

Take Care of Your Mind

Resolve to learn something new. Most of us can’t afford (or don’t have the time) to go back to school for another degree, enrolling in a single course at a local community college (where the prices aren’t quite as steep) can be a fun, fulfilling commitment to bettering yourself and your education. Learn a language, sharpen your computer skills, or take a business course. These small skills can help add extra edge to your resume and will make you feel like you’re working toward a goal.

Break out the coloring books. Once a playful childhood pursuit, coloring books have adult benefits as well. Coloring activates the same pathways in the brain as meditation and has even been found to change heart rates and brain waves. Adult coloring books are a way to replace negative thoughts with positive images, unlock creativity, and allow a person to focus intently on choosing colors to make something beautiful.

Resolve to let music start your day. Set your iPod or alarm clock to wake you with your favorite song so you can start every morning humming a happy tune. Music is a great stress-buster, especially when you listen to songs you really like.

Resolve to delegate more. Asking for help is key to preserving sanity. Experts urge us to capitalize on the strengths of others. Is your teacher’s assistant a pro at organization? Have her file your students’ homework. Does your daughter love to cook? Ask her to make dinner twice a week. Know when to tap into helpful resources to reduce stress and improve your life.

Resolve to travel. Breaking up the day-to-day with change is good for the mind and traveling can expose you to a whole new culture. However, after booking transportation, accommodation, and activities (not to mention food and drink), this goal can be quite expensive. If you’re on a budget, set your sights on something more attainable: That park you always drive past on your way to work or that museum downtown you’ve been meaning to visit but just never have. Stop waiting, and go! Even in your own neighborhood you can always find new surprises worth checking out.
If you have questions about any healthcare issue, contact the primary care providers at Coastal Carolina Health Care by calling (252) 633-4111 or visiting

(Sources: How Stuff Works; WebMD; NEA; American Heart Association; Loma Linda University Medical Center; MarketWatch; LiveScience.)