Each year, once the holiday season comes along, people all over the world start to takes stock of their experiences, their lifestyle, think about and decide on their resolution for the coming New Year.
It’s a tradition that started some 4,000 years ago by the Babylonians who are also said to be the first to hold celebrations to honor an incoming year. They believed that their (pagan) gods would bestow upon them favors if they kept their words and are true to their promises. Failure to do so will lose them the favor of the gods which meant bad luck and sorrow for the coming year.
In today’s time, making (and keeping) New Year’s resolutions are mostly secular. We no longer make promises to gods, but instead only to ourselves. Statistics show about 45% of Americans say they tend to make resolutions for the New Year but only 8% are actually successful at keeping them for the whole year. Why do you think this is so?
Most Americans lose their motivation to push forward with their resolutions in only around two months into the new year. Disappointing really, but it’s easy to see why. A common mistake people make is making resolutions that are too broad, too many or just plain unattainable.
New Year’s resolutions signify fresh chances for us to better ourselves when it comes to overall health, pain management and dealing with the daily grind. Being successful in keeping your resolution does not have to be a pain. And if there is one thing I have come to realize in my many years as a pain relief specialist and advocate for healthy living, it is that following and living a healthy lifestyle is ACTUALLY a lifestyle in and of itself.
Let me let you in on a little secret – in all my years helping people relief pain, I have noticed that part of the problem for most people is their mindset. They think that living a healthy lifestyle is such a chore that they forget to enjoy the simple things that make living healthy an easy and ongoing thing. This toxic mindset would then translate to more stressful workouts and diets in their quest to try and keep up with the resolution they made at the start of the year.
See the trend? We are all guilty of having bad resolutions for the New Year and I believe it’s time to make some simple changes to make the next year a brighter, healthier and pain-free year.
Here are 5 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make Today to Jumpstart Your 2020 Resolutions
- Get enough sleep. And do not just put in the hours. You have to get enough QUALITY sleep to be able to start leading a healthier life. Give your body a chance to recuperate, regenerate and rest so you can start with a refreshed body and a clearer mind. Keep in mind that there are some very serious and long term side effects of not having enough quality sleep. Some of the most common are high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart failure. To avoid these, the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following sleep practices to maintain a healthy sleeping habit:
- Stick to a sleep schedule (even on weekends) to help regulate your body clock
- Practice a bedtime ritual that relaxes you. Choose a nighttime activity that is away from bright lights so your body can start to relax and wind down
- Do not take afternoon naps if you have trouble sleeping in the evening.
- Do not consume alcohol, cigarettes and heavy meals in the evening. Caffeine and nicotine can disrupt sleep while heavy meals can cause nighttime indigestion.
- Exercise every day.
- Design your sleep environment to be better suited to your needs. Avoid bright lights, noise and any potential distractions to a relaxing sleep.
- Here’s 101 tips for better sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is as important as exercising regularly and having a healthy diet. You need this change in your lifestyle even more now that the holidays are upon us. All the shopping and festivities will surely take a toll on your overall health.
2. Educate yourself about healthier alternatives to your snack cravings. It is totally ok to eat dessert or skip a workout from time to time but that does not mean you can overindulge on sweets or unhealthy snacks. If you are a fan of midnight snacks, eating chips or popcorn while binge watching a new series or grabbing a chocolate bar on stress days, then it is about time you find healthier options to help you get used to a new snacking habit just in time for the new year.
Here are a few healthier alternatives to your daily snack cravings as compiled by the American Cancer Society:
- Plain popcorn (no additional salt or butter)
- Trail mix (raisins, pretzels, dried fruit, nuts, cereals)
- Whole-grain crackers and cheese cubes
- Baked tortilla chips and salsa
- Low-fat and low-sugar yogurt
- Whole fruit or fruit slices, dipped in lemon juice
- Hummus and whole wheat pita bread
- Celery sticks with peanut butter and dried fruits
- Edamame and sweet cherry tomatoes
Eating healthier now can help ease you into the coming year with a new mindset when it comes to snacking. You are free to make your resolution about losing or staying at an ideal weight if you keep up with a healthy habit like this.
3. Manage Your Stress. Make sure to keep a manageable list of holiday activities and events to make time for rest and relaxation. When you start to feel stressed out, you can try simple stretching exercises to relieve your pain and refresh your mind like the Runner’s Stretch, Standing Side Stretch and Seated Back Twist. These exercises not only can relieve your stress but also help clear your mind of any unwanted thoughts and distractions.
And the great thing about these simple exercises is that you can do them in the comfort of your own home! No need to go to your local gym for a quick endorphin fix.
You can read more about these exercises here.
Or you may want to use bird music to combat your stress. Just like in sound or music therapy studies have shown that bird music may be very calming and relaxing.
4. Acknowledge your pain. Your mind is a powerful tool which can sway your every move. That’s why it is important to acknowledge any pain you are feeling to be able to find ways to manage it.
According to the American Psychological Association, about a quarter of Americans feel extreme stress during the holidays. Statistics also show that 69% of people are stressed due to “lack of time” and “lack of money”, while 51% feel stressed due to the “pressure of giving and getting gifts”. These stressors can create undue pain in different parts of the mind and body along with feelings of fatigue, exhaustion and low morale.
If you acknowledge your pain early, you are sure to find ways to manage it rather than just live with it for another year. After all, acknowledging your pain simply means trying to understand your body to find out any underlying cause of pain and discomfort. If you find that it is something a little exercise and rest can cure, then that is good for you.
But if you are unsure what to do with the pain you are feeling —
5. Make it a habit to check in with a professional at least every one or two months. This way you are always updated with expert advice on any new stress or pain you may be feeling.
In my 20+ years in this industry I have seen clients who are so used to living with their pain that it has become part of their daily lives. What saddens me is the fact that this type of pain is something even I cannot manage within just one session. My advice is for you to not wait until any pain or stress becomes too much to manage and control.
Do not be afraid to seek help or advice. Overall body maintenance is important to be able to live a truly healthy lifestyle.
To recap, the 5 lifestyle changes you can make today to jumpstart your 2020 resolutions are:
- Get enough sleep
- Educate yourself on healthier snack alternatives
- Manage your stress
- Acknowledge your pain
- Make it a habit to check in with a professional
These simple tips can help you in your quest to live a healthier and more colorful life in 2020 and beyond. No more sleeping with stress on your mind and pain on your back, just a life full of better choices and an overall healthier body.
So whether or not you are going to keep your New Year’s resolution for the coming year 2020, be sure to remember these simple lifestyle changes to make your year a more productive, pain-free and happier one!
What goals or resolutions would you like to stick to this coming year?