New Year’s resolutions are often about losing weight or getting fit, but those aren’t the only kinds of resolutions you can make. Have you considered making a resolution that will make a difference in your life, and maybe even the life of someone else?
Here are five simple resolutions you can make for 2016 that can make a big difference.
Do something you love. Find an activity that you enjoy and resolve to spend a little time doing it regularly throughout the year. Having a hobby gives you an excuse to take a break and still feel productive. Hobbies can reduce stress, challenge your mind and body, and provide an opportunity to connect with others who share similar interests. Research has shown that doing something you enjoy is associated with lower blood pressure, cortisol (the stress hormone) and reduced waist circumference.
Connect with friends. Emotional happiness is just as important to your overall health as physical fitness. Make time in your busy schedule to connect with friends, whether in person, by phone or over video chat. Having an active social life can lower stress levels, reduce blood pressure, and lower risk of cognitive decline.
Be grateful. Being thankful for the food on your table, the roof over your head, the people in your life and the experiences you’ve had can benefit every aspect of your life. Gratitude opens the door to new relationships, improves physical and psychological health, reduces aggression, enhances empathy, improves self-esteem and can even help you get better sleep.
Be kind. It’s not always easy to be kind to others, especially when another individual has wronged you, but being nice is actually good for you. Showing kindness to others will increase your own happiness, reduce stress and improve your relationships. Plus, being kind to others just feels good.
Volunteer. Find a cause you believe in and commit to giving some of your time to that cause this year. People find great satisfaction in volunteering. Sharing your time and talents can solve problems, strengthen communities, improve lives, connect you to others and transform your own life. Research on the health benefits of volunteering shows that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression and greater functional ability than those who do not volunteer.
Remember that before doing something physical, it’s important to check with your primary care provider to ensure it is safe for you to do so. If you’ve chosen a hobby or will be volunteering in some physical capacity, make an appointment with your physician. Your doctor may also be able to make suggestions on activities you may enjoy that will also help improve your health.