A new year often means a resolution to adjust your lifestyle. Eating healthier, starting an exercise routine or saving money are common areas of focus. According to a study published by PLOS ONE, 55 per cent of responders felt they successfully followed their resolutions after a year. Tackling new habits can be difficult, but there are ways to make your health and wellness journey more manageable.
Take time to reflect
Have you had difficulty starting with healthy habits? Maybe you see the change as a mountain to climb or maybe you just aren’t sure how to begin. Before jumping in, it’s important to take some time to reflect on routines you already practice and think of small improvements or new habits you’d like to start. As you plan to improve your wellness routines, consider how reframing negative thoughts and feelings can support your new lifestyle choices.
Try reflecting with the following questions:
- What habits or routines do I practice that support my new resolution?
- Why is this resolution important to me?
- How does working toward this resolution make me feel?
- How can I support this habit?
- Are there small changes to my routine I can make that can get me on track?
Work toward larger results by starting small. Micro-resolutions are a great way to improve your lifestyle, break down potential barriers and create success sooner. For example, completely removing junk food from your diet to achieve healthier eating habits is a large change and can be overwhelming. Instead, consider making your dessert or treat portions for each day smaller as a micro-resolution that works toward healthier eating.
Micro-resolutions are habits you add to your routine for 4 weeks which can help you with a larger goal. Not only does this thinking provide a manageable foundation for your new habits, but it also can help you work through mental or physical barriers to your resolution. Incorporate simple actions into your routine to live your physical, financial, social or mental wellness resolutions.
Struggling to find time for activity?
- Reframe your thinking. Focus on the long term instead of the short term and reframe negative thoughts into something positive. Change “I hate exercising” into “I know I’ll feel better after I exercise.”
- Take advantage of little moments. If your day is packed and you feel you don’t have time to stretch, find micro-moments to tie stretching into your routine. Waiting for a file to load or food to warm up in the microwave? Use these moments to stretch.
- Create routines you can keep. If your resolution is to get active find activities you enjoy, like dancing, swimming, bouldering or visiting an active gaming facility. Invite a friend to join in your physical wellness to keep you both motivated.
Are your finances a source of concern?
- Think through your spending. Before your purchase, ask yourself, “Do I really need this, or do I want it?” Only buying things you need can reduce clutter in your home and mind while helping you save money. You can also think of how much you’ll use a purchased item. Will the cost be justified by how often you’ll use it? Is this item something you’ll forget about? Could you find the item secondhand for a lower price?
- Curb unnecessary spending. Consider waking up 5 minutes earlier to make coffee at home instead of pulling up to the drive-through. Remind yourself how much money you can save per year if you make coffee at home. Making coffee and lunch at home can save you an additional $2,000 to $3,000 every year.
Craving social connection?
- Practice mindful listening to connect with others. Actively listen when in conversation and watch their verbal and non-verbal language. Chime into conversation only when needed, and you’ll become aware of how often you speak with reason versus mindlessly.
- Monitor social media intake. Before scrolling through your phone, ask yourself if there’s someone you could connect with in real-time. Converse with co-workers during breaks or chat with family members in the kitchen. Try making certain rooms (such as the kitchen or bedroom) no phone zones for a month and see how it impacts your relationships. Alternatively, create phone-free time zones during the day (for example, between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.).
- Discover natural mood boosters. Harvard Health Publishing states the hormone serotonin influences feelings of happiness. If you’re feeling down, try random acts of kindness, play a game with friends, go outdoors for a 10-minute walk or chat with someone you love to help boost your serotonin.
Micro-steps to mental wellbeing
- Understand contagious emotions. If you meet someone with a poor attitude, recognize it and stay in control of your reaction. Think, “I’m thankful that person helped me put my day in perspective.”
- Scan for stress. Take time to pause and reflect during the day to check your mind and body. Note how stress impacts you. Reframe stressors and be kind enough to yourself to let go of the things you can’t control.
- Take a moment. Whether it’s unpredictable road conditions or technical difficulties at work, we experience daily stressors. If you’re feeling stressed, irritated or anxious, practice mindful deep breathing to bring yourself into a calm space and reduce tension and stress. MyHealth.Alberta.ca provides different breathing techniques for your needs.
Want to learn more?
Use these micro-steps to help kick-off your 2023 journey with a macro-impact. Consider trying a new micro-step each week to see which habits you enjoy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure, be sure to do self-checks on your current mood:
- Feel: when a negative thought, emotion or feeling surfaces, let it finish.
- Validate: pause and reflect on the thought, emotion or feeling. Why are you feeling this way?
- Mind your mindset: note situations that make you feel negatively. Try to identify and understand your triggers.
- Reframe: think of an alternative approach to the feeling or situation.
To help you navigate your wellness resolutions, view the following resources:
- See Alberta Blue Cross’s® lifestyle management for direction on gradually incorporating healthier behaviours into your routines. You’ll find resources on physical, mental, social and financial wellness and a tiny habits recipe card by Dr. B.J. Fogg to help get you started on designing new habits.
- Wellness Together Canada provides countless coaching and wellness resources for all ages.