Year after year, we tend to recycle the same resolutions—lose weight, save money, go to the gym—and often with little success. Instead of making broad promises that are nearly impossible to keep, this year, why not try a goal that's a little more achievable. We asked health experts for the promises they wish people would make to themselves for the new year. Here's what they suggest.
1. Be a Little Nicer... to Yourself
“Whether we are aware of it or not, we tend to be our own harshest critics,” says Jessica Matthews, senior adviser for wellness education for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and ACE-certified health coach and behavior change specialist. Shifting from negative self-talk like, “I wish I was X” or “I’m not good enough” to positive internal dialog, where you regularly try to acknowledge your own accomplishments and the attributes that make you uniquely you, can improve your health and well-being, she says. It can help to write those things down each day in a journal or just on sticky notes around your home or office (or to even say them out loud to yourself).
2. Aim to Be Present
Whether you’re spending time with loved ones, exercising, or working, try to stay more present and create moments of being versus doing, says Khajak Keledjian founder and CEO of INSCAPE, a meditation app and studio in New York City. What’s the difference? When you’re “doing,” you're just going through the motions without putting much thought into them—like most of us are day-to day. Being present, on the other hand, means that your actions become a bit more intentional and slower. “You put more focus into what you are doing and really feel what you are doing,” Keledjian says. So instead of racing through eating dinner because it's the next thing on your to-do list, try to remember the meal and the conversations with family—until it becomes a habit.
3. Eat While You're Eating
This year, try to ban screens while you're eating, says Mike Roussell, Ph.D., author of The MetaShred Diet. “Focus on your food and stop the mindless eating, and you’ll be more satisfied with your meals, feel fuller, and eat less calories overall as a result,” he says. In a small study of women who ate out about five or six times a week, researchers taught half the group mindfulness practices. That group ended up eating about 300 fewer calories each day and also lost almost four pounds in six weeks.