8 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Make Any Time of Year

February 11, 2019

These self-improvements will enhance your whole life—mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Still Time for New Year's Resolutions

If you began the year vowing to make sweeping changes to your diet and exercise routine, you’re not alone. Roughly half of all Americans make some sort of resolution, and 42 percent of those goals involve dieting and weight loss.

And if you’ve already thrown in the towel, you’re also in good company—just 8 percent of people actually end up following through with those resolutions.

While weight loss efforts fail for a number of reasons, the biggest resolution-killer is likely is a lack of why. Your heart might be set on shedding 10 pounds, but will that loss add to your quality of life? Or are you hoping a leaner figure will make up for other stressors that are actually getting you down, like a recent breakup or midlife career funk? (Spoiler: It won’t.)

Making an effort to eat healthier and exercise is important, but if you’re solely focused on what the scale says, your motivation is bound to falter. That’s why we’ve rounded up eight all-year resolutions designed to enhance your whole life—mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Resolution #1: Make Face-to-Face Time for Friends

When your smartphone is continuously buzzing, it’s easy to feel connected. But don’t let your phone trick you: Overreliance on online interaction can lead to loneliness.

“If you feel disconnected, or like you’ve been neglecting important people, making time for face-to-face interaction is a good resolution to make,” says Mark Rabo, founder of Revere, an app that helps you build friendships. “A relationship is built on shared experiences. That’s where you get to know someone and build trust.”

Rabo notes that your meet-up doesn’t have to be fancy—sharing a coffee or a walk-and-talk is perfect.

And while social media is no replacement for face time, you can use it more effectively to strengthen your relationships. “When you do spend time on social media, make a rule that ‘if you like, you gotta write,’ as in, write a comment,” Rabo says. “Writing a comment forces us to be thoughtful, and that’s what good friends are.”

An even better online socializing solution? Chat with your friend face-to-face via Skype or FaceTime.

Your all-year resolution: Schedule and set reminders for meet-ups with friends in advance, whether in person or over the phone. View them like death and taxes—not optional.

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Resolution #2: Drink More Water

This is a pretty easy goal—who doesn’t love water?—and it comes with myriad benefits.

On top of helping you lose weight and keep it off, drinking water also aids the digestive process, preventing constipation and flushing out waste. Finally, if you’re feeling lethargic, filling up on H2O can energize you and boost your mood and concentration.

Your all-year resolution: Replace juices, sodas, and other drinks at meals with water, and load your plate with H20-infused foods like fruits and vegetables at every meal.

Resolution #3: Ban Your Smartphone from the Bedroom

If your slumber has lacked luster, your blue light–emitting BFF might be to blame.

While any light can disrupt sleep, blue light from devices like laptops, phones, and tablets is the type most likely to keep you awake, says Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert. He recommends stowing away electronic devices no later than an hour before bed.

Your all-year resolution: Charge your gadgets in another room, not on your bedside table, recommends Dr. Breus. Invest in an alarm clock instead. Remember those?

If you must read on a digital device before bed, install blue light–blocking filters—or invest in a pair of blue light–blocking glasses—to limit your exposure.

Resolution #4: Read, Read, Read

Diving into a novel isn’t just a form of escapism—it also provides a big boost for your brain.

A study published in Neurology found that being a bookworm helps you stay sharper and slows down cognitive decline as you age. It’s also far more entertaining than scrolling social media to see if your coworker ordered a cobb salad for lunch again.

Your all-year resolution: Read one new book a month this year.

Resolution #5: Do Something for Your Community

As far as overall health-boosters go, volunteering is a win-win. Studies have shown that it is associated with improved health and well-being, as well as reduced anxiety and depression. Plus, the community benefits.

Before you start, it helps to pinpoint exactly how you want to help. Is there a social cause you’re particularly passionate about? Any giving is better than none, but like all lines of work, it helps to have a plan of action before jumping in.

Your all-year resolution: Think about what you’re good at. Do you have a certain talent—say, painting or teaching—that you can bring to the table? Pursuing those opportunities will allow you to make a unique and valuable contribution to your community.

Resolution #6: Unpack Your Baggage

Let 2019 be the year you finally let go of the past. “If you are holding on to something negative, it can get in the way of taking the necessary steps to move forward, and even start affecting your daily life,” says Lindsay Trent, psychologist and co-founder of the mental-health app Basis.

Your all-year resolution: One of the first steps toward forgiving yourself is acknowledging that you did something wrong or made a mistake, Dr. Trent says.

Recognize that there is nothing you can do to change the past. Instead, what can you learn from the experience? “You can use those insights to be a better person in the future,” he says.

Resolution #7: Focus on the Good

Ever had one bad thing happen and then obsess about it the rest of the day?

“Humans tend to focus on the negative aspects of life, and that’s where a gratitude journal comes in,” says Kristin Oja, a registered nurse, fitness instructor, and founder of STAT Wellness.

The practice of writing down the positive aspects of your life can help you remember all of the good things you have going on in your life.

Your all-year resolution: Make your journal pocket-sized, and bring it with you everywhere. When something makes you feel good, pause when you can and make a note of it.

Read through your journal at the end of the day or week; you’ll be surprised at how good life can be.

Resolution #8: Walk Like Your Life Depends on It

Because it does. Strolling outdoors is simple activity with huge health benefits. It burns calories and gives you a cardio burst, and science shows that walking in a natural environment can help improve your mood and reduce negative thoughts.

In additional, research shows that the more time people spend in nature, the more they feel like their life has purpose and meaning. And who doesn’t want more of that in 2019?

Your all-year resolution: Aim to walk for at least 20 minutes every day, preferably outside in a natural setting.

When that’s not possible, try to take as many steps as you can. Take the stairs, stand and pace anytime you’re on the phone, park across the office lot. Your steps, and the health benefits that result from them, will add up.

You can also turn your walks into fat-blasting workouts with our six-part guide, or strap on a weighted backpack to get more muscle-building and weight loss benefits.

Note: Please consult your physician before beginning a physical activity program to make sure it’s safe for you.

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