The New Year’s Resolution. Often made, rarely kept. Only about 25% of Americans find themselves persevering in their new routines or habits for longer than a week. It feels good to make a fresh start, but the idea that there is something special about making that start on January 1st doesn’t seem to hold true.
Whether or not you participate in this particular tradition, it can’t be denied that working towards our goals is a positive thing. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of stereotypical pledges, such as “lose 10 pounds before summer,” consider these three resolutions we would all do well to work on, no matter what time of year.
Get More Physical Activity
Unless you’re a professional athlete, there is most likely something about your physical health that exercise could improve. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, physical activity produces a variety of long-term benefits such as reducing weight and preventing chronic diseases such as stroke.
But becoming more active can seem like a difficult task. People with disabilities or chronic health problems sometimes struggle with the traditional ideas of exercise that involve training for competitive sports or using weight rooms filled with physically fit people. Other people feel that transportation issues exclude them from being able to go to a gym or participate in outdoor recreation.
However, getting more physical activity can be as simple as moving more throughout your day. Here are some easy ideas to increase your movement.
- Do more housework independently.
- Walk or use your wheelchair to make some laps around your yard or neighborhood.
- Park farther away from your destinations when going to the store.
- Start a new project in your yard, such as a garden or raised beds.
- Take breaks from working or resting by moving every 30 minutes.
Learn A New Skill
An article published on the National Public Radio website says, “Brain training is big business, with computerized brain games touted as a way to help prevent memory loss. But new research shows you might be better off picking up a challenging new hobby.”
Testing showed that study participants who learned a new skill had gains in mental function compared to peers who also had an active social life but did not do anything mentally challenging. It also seemed the more difficult the skill was, the more gains were made. Staying mentally agile appeared to have the potential to defer cognitive decline by several years.
So what types of skills should you learn? Anything that challenges you. Learning a new dance style, a foreign language, or how to play an instrument are all good brain exercise. Even learning a new Bridge move can exercise the brain. Crosswords and knitting are often credited with keeping the mind sharp. And staying technologically savvy also keeps the nucleus basalis busy making connections in the brain.
Nurture Important Relationships
Harvard Health Publishing tells us that healthy relationships are not only emotionally beneficial, they also keep us healthy and can prolong our life. “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Conversely, a relative lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline, as well as with increased mortality.”
So nurturing our relationships is important. One significant finding has been that it’s not the number of relationships that matter, but the quality. In fact, if your relationships are unsatisfactory, they can have the opposite effect by causing stress and reducing immunity.
With so much busyness often getting in the way of spending quality time with our loved ones, how can we help grow and build our important relationships? Harvard recommends to, “Choose activities that are most likely to bring joy to you and the people you care about. Delegate or discard tasks that eat into your time, or do them together with family or friends.”
Instead of thinking of these resolutions as “New Year’s” resolutions, try to think of them as general, long-term goals. That way, if you have an off week, you won’t feel too discouraged. And to kill two birds with one stone, consider nurturing relationships while doing the other activities. Invite a friend to join you as you learn that new skill or take a walk around the neighborhood. You’ll both be the better for it.
Need ideas for the games and activities that will keep your mind sharp and give you a way to spend more quality time with your loved ones? Find them here, at ILA.
Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash