5 New Year’s Resolutions We Can Keep
Written for NH Women Magazine
Making New Year’s resolutions can feel like a daunting task especially when we set our expectations on tough goals. Here are five resolutions we may actually enjoy and build upon as we continue throughout the months of 2021.
- Two minutes of mindful breathing a day: Mindful breathing means our attention and focus is simply on our breath. Start by finding a quiet spot in your home where you can sit comfortably. You can close your eyes or keep them open. Begin with a deep breath in and out. Then, breath normally, but let your belly expand instead of raising your shoulders. Focus your attention on your breathing and your body. Feel yourself sitting and notice how your body feels as a whole. When thoughts come in (and they always do), gently bring your awareness back to breathing. Try this for two minutes a day and gradually increase. Check out some meditation phone apps that can bring you into guided meditation when you feel up to it.
- Set a daily intention before you get out of bed: According to 7th Generation Spiritual Teacher, Chandresh Bhardway, “Setting an intention is like drawing a map of where you wish to go—it becomes the driving force behind your goals and visions. Without an intention, there is no map, and you’re just driving down a road with no destination in mind.” * So, what are daily intentions? They can be as simple as intending to start the morning with a healthy breakfast or taking a walk! As you get into the practice of setting a daily intention, start to increase the effort involved in these daily practices. For example, “I intend to practice self love today.” Or, “I intend to not take things so personally.” There are lots of resources online to learn more about how daily intentions can help you in work and personal life. Do a Google search for “How to Set Daily Intentions,” and see what you find.
- Replacing one sugary drink a day: A single soda can have over 30 grams of sugar in one can! According to the American Heart Association, daily sugar intake guidelines are 36 grams a day for men and 25 grams of sugar a day for women. One soda a day can eat up a whole daily intake. With so many alternatives to soda, sports drinks, and fruit drinks – it’s easier than you think to start with removing one sugary drink from your daily diet. Flavored seltzer water is a great alternative to a soda. Be sure there’s no hidden sugar though. How about loading a tall glass of water with sliced strawberries and lime wedges?
- Replacing a nighttime snack: Buttered popcorn during our nightly binge watching, a walk by the pantry to refill on the nacho chips while chatting on a video call, a second look in the fridge for something sweet after dinner – yep, we’ve all been there. Nighttime snacking can lead to unwanted weight gain. Most of this nighttime snacking is done mindlessly and often when we are not even hungry. Research shows eating more protein and fiber during the day can help curb cravings at night. Try to incorporate more healthy proteins into your diet during the day (i.e., oatmeal with almond milk or low-fat milk, nuts and fruits) and when reaching for snacks at night, ask yourself are you really hungry or just bored? Opt for a seltzer water with lots of flavor. You may be thirsty instead of hungry! One study showed that 37 percent of people mistake hunger for thirst. Another idea is to schedule your snack night! Popcorn on Fridays for a Netflix and Chill night, perhaps?
- Increase physical fitness by setting this goal: Sometimes even the thought of starting an exercise plan can seem so overwhelming, we don’t even try. Starting slow and building on your personal successes may increase the likelihood of sticking with an activity plan. If you’re just starting out and the pandemic has really slowed your activity down, start slow! Just like your daily intentions, intend to make mindful changes that fit your lifestyle. For example, if you’re working from home, walk around your house during your conference calls (unless you’re required to be at your desk!). Also, take a few stretch breaks during the day. Turn on some music and take a dance break. You’ll be surprised how great you feel after. Consider a work desk that allows you to stand more instead of sitting all day. Did you know that just standing alone burns more calories than sitting? As you increase your basic physical activity, try to increase it into talking walks outdoors during your lunch break (or, just walk around inside). And, lastly, increase that housework. You can burn calories just by increasing the amount of house cleaning you do a day.
*Chandresh Bhardway,”10 Intentions to Set For Your Most Authentic Life,” Mindbodygreen.com