“Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.” No one rightly knows who penned this old aphorism, but it certainly carries the ring of truth. Despite their best intentions, folks tend to fall into the same old habits year after year, never quite breaking out of bad behaviors or blundering into good ones. You can see why so many regard New Year’s resolutions with skepticism, especially when it comes to personal wellness. Losing weight. Managing mental quirks. Settling into an overall healthy lifestyle. Such pledges almost inevitably fall by the wayside. But they don’t need to. Following you’ll find four easy-to-follow wellness hacks that will help you have a super year.
Ditch dire diets for broad nutritional guidelines.
Every year sees the advent of some trendy fad diet with tons of complex rules. Remember the South Beach Diet with its three food phases or Master Cleanse, which went so far as to dictate the grade of maple syrup that dieters should consume? Not only do such programs rarely work over the long term, they discourage practitioners with their intricacy. Fortunately, you don’t need them if you want to lose weight or just live more healthily. In Defense of Food author Michael Pollan has boiled scientifically supported dietary advice down to a simple dictum: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Aaron E. Carroll of The New York Times offers similarly easy-to-remember advice, such as consume more unprocessed foods and fewer processed ones. Eat at home. Feel free to use salt and fat in moderation. Drink mostly water, but don’t worry too much about occasionally indulging in alcohol or coffee.
Regular activity beats exhausting exercise.
CrossFit has become all the rage lately among workout-aholics, and before that it was P90X, a self-branded “extreme home fitness” regime that promised to radically reshape your body. Well-intentioned resolvers may sincerely want an Olympic physique, but too often the pressures of career and family conspire against intense exercise regimes. However, that doesn’t mean you need to let yourself go.
Develop a hobby to defeat depression.
Speaking of your mood, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that over 16 million American adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2015 and that 18.1 percent suffer from an anxiety disorder. Stress and sadness obviously impact a lot of people. Yes, medication and therapy can help almost any situation, but did you know that having a hobby can help you beat even the ordinary blues? Hobbies draw you out of yourself, connect you with new friends, and focus your mind. They’re a ton of fun and anything but onerous.
Mind your mind and practice contentment.
Even those of us who don’t have to deal with major mental illness can still find ourselves fighting negative thinking patterns. Pessimism. Bitterness. Greediness. Plain old grumpiness. Such attitudes can undermine productivity and destroy personal happiness. These are problems humanity has faced since the dawn of time, and ancient thinkers developed mental strategies that remain just as applicable in the 21st century as they did two millennia ago. Consider Stoic thinker Epictetus, a philosopher who survived slavery and exile by realizing that “some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. … If [a situation] concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you.” In other words, let go of anything not in your immediate control and focus on your own actions. Similarly, Paul of Tarsus urged his readers toward a similar mindset. “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Worry breeds more worry, but practicing contentment makes every occurrence easy.
A new year truly offers an opportunity to change, to reevaluate and kick one’s life into a different gear. But shirk the setting of impossible goals this time around and consider adopting these four simple wellness hacks instead. They’ll have your year looking whole and healthy in no time flat!