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When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we tend to focus on our bodies.
Look better. Exercise more. Lose weight. There’s nothing wrong with striving to be healthy, but there’s so much more to being well than how we appear on the outside.
As the holiday season makes way for resolution season, consider these simple, CREATION Life-based ideas that inspire spiritual and emotional growth as well as physical accomplishments. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you.
#1: Set Activity (Not Exercise) Goals
Exercise gives you energy, helps you maintain a healthy weight and may even help you live longer. But exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym if a membership is too expensive or treadmills bore you to tears.
This year, find ways to be active that you find enjoyable, rewarding and achievable — whether it’s joining a kickball league or taking long walks on the beach. That way, activity will be something you want to do rather than something you have to do.
#2: Make Room for Mindfulness
Study after study shows that meditation has wide-ranging health benefits, from calming a stressed-out mind to easing anxiety, depression and even pain. Meditation can seem daunting for a beginner, but it doesn’t need to be. Start by focusing on your breath for five minutes per day, then slowly work your way up. You might even take a guided meditation class to learn the basics.
#3: Get More Zzzs
As far as resolutions go, few others are more enjoyable or have a better return on investment than sleep. It regenerates the body, boosts memory, protects you against illness and improves overall health. If you’ve been skimping, pledge to go to bed just a little earlier each night. Or, embrace habits that will prepare you for a more restful sleep, such as limiting screen time before bed, reading a book or practicing deep breathing.
#4: Give of Yourself
Volunteering has been shown to increase happiness levels while reducing stress. The idea is simple: it just feels good to give back. From community volunteering to church work, there are many ways to be of service. It’s especially beneficial for older adults, and can be a great family activity. Along the way, you’ll gain a stronger sense of purpose, satisfaction and spiritual growth.
#5: Enrich Your Diet
Eating healthy isn’t always about eating less or loading your plate with vegetables you really don’t like. Rather than forcing yourself into a rigid diet plan that can leave you unsatisfied, practice moderation and resolve to make small improvements here and there. Incorporate leaner meats, replace white rice with brown (or other whole grains) and sneak dark leafy greens into delicious smoothies. Remember: eat to enrich your health, not to lose weight.
#6: Take a Weekly Media Break
Is constant exposure to news, TV and social media making you ready to blow a fuse? Try implementing a media-free family night one day a week. Play a game, go for a walk, read quietly or catch up on conversation. You may miss the Facebook feed at first, but eventually, you’ll be reminded how nice it feels to slow down and simply enjoy the company of others.
#7: Spend Time Outside
Mother Nature can be a powerful healer. That’s good news for the millions of Americans who spend almost every day sitting behind a desk. This year, carve out more time to answer the call of the wild. Spend the day by the beach or a lake. Work in a garden. Visit new parks and walking trails. Aim for at least one outdoor activity a week.
#8: Learn to Love the “Now”
Pause and consider this question: how many of your thoughts today have been devoted to either the past or the future? If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time fretting about old conversations or stressing about what hasn’t happened yet. What we don’t seem to make much time for is the present.
Studies have shown that the age-old concept of being present can help us achieve greater happiness. This year, remind yourself to be grateful for the gifts of your life, notice the beauty in your surroundings and appreciate the present moment for what it is.