As the new year begins, many contemplate life enhancing goals and aspirations for the coming months. Despite a significant number planning resolutions, maintaining them is a challenge, with studies indicating a high abandonment rate ranging from 17% to 45% within the first month.
This trend often leads to the ‘false hope syndrome’, prompting psychologists to advocate for more achievable life enhancing goals. Research suggests that realistic, specific, and measurable approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-based ones.
To assist in identifying areas for improvement, here are seven aspects of life to consider, along with science-based tips for the new year.
01. Prioritize Your Sleep
After potentially staying up late to welcome the New Year, it’s beneficial to focus on improving your sleep. During winter, scientists recommend indulging in extra sleep without feeling guilty. Seasonal sleep variations suggest a need for more rest in darker months, with research indicating an hour longer of sleep in December compared to June.
Enhance your winter sleep by going to bed earlier, avoiding bright lights two hours before bedtime, and refraining from phone use just before sleep. Consistent bedtime may also positively impact gut health. Additionally, consider exploring lucid dreaming during extended sleep, a state aiding in nightmare management, problem-solving, and creative idea exploration.
02. Prioritize your physical well-being
If you’re naturally fidgety, embrace it – those unconscious movements like tapping your foot or fiddling with your fingers can burn calories and reduce stress. Winter offers an opportunity for outdoor exercise, linked to a life enhancing cardiac health, a stronger immune system, and white fat cell transformation to brown for weight loss.
Consider incorporating backward walking into your routine, as it burns more calories and strengthens back muscles while being gentler on the knees, making it ideal for those with knee problems. Embrace the mud during backward walks to enhance the diversity of beneficial microorganisms on your skin, which can positively impact skin conditions like psoriasis.
Recognize the significance of skin health, the body’s largest organ, as it can influence overall well-being. Dry or damaged skin can release biochemicals contributing to inflammation, affecting organs like the heart and brain. Prioritize skin care with sunscreen and moisturizer not only for a youthful appearance but also to improve biological age.
03. Prioritize mental well-being
Engage in conversations with strangers, seek thrilling experiences, and embrace life’s chaos for increased happiness, resilience, and reduced stress, supported by scientific findings. Challenge yourself with new activities to boost brain plasticity, aiding adaptability and rewiring.
For a life enhancing energetic option, incorporate squats into your routine to enhance blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. Alternatively, cultivate a youthful mindset, as research indicates a potential link between self-perception of age and longevity. Embrace wonder through activities like mountain climbing, ocean watching, or stargazing to reduce stress, enhance memory, and foster connection.
Consider singing as an accessible stress-relieving and endorphin-releasing aerobic exercise. Lastly, practice breathing exercises supported by research for a life enhancing stress reduction, anxiety relief, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep.
04. Prioritize your relationships
Maintaining friendships has numerous health benefits, from boosting the immune system to improving cardiovascular health and overall happiness. Adding rhythm to time spent with friends enhances closeness, with synchronized walking improving communication and tapping a beat fostering mutual liking.
Our friends influence our habits, for better or worse, as we subconsciously pick up cues from them, significantly impacting our behavior. Embracing quirkiness by expressing unique tastes and opinions can enhance attractiveness.
Practicing forgiveness, though challenging, yields multiple life enhancing benefits. Uttering a sincere “I forgive you” can reduce stress, potentially increase earnings, and contribute to better health as we age.
05. Prioritize your diet
December often involves indulgence, making the new year a time to reconsider eating habits. If leftovers from festive gatherings remain, consuming them is environmentally friendly, with microwaving being an effective method for nutrient retention.
Maintaining a balanced life enhancing diet becomes crucial after festive indulgence, as research links junk food to negative impacts on both the mind and body. Diversify fruit and vegetable consumption, aiming for a variety of colors, to enhance brain health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
While Dry January is a common practice, coffee consumption, when done in moderation, is associated with a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, and cancer-related deaths, according to research.
06. Prioritize your fitness
Exercise not only enhances strength, burns fat, and boosts mental health but also benefits the gut microbiome. Instead of fixating on achieving 10,000 daily steps, research suggests that a lower number, even below 5,000, can be sufficient for health improvement.
For quick fitness results, six sessions of interval training can significantly increase overall fitness and the body’s fuel-burning efficiency. Consider the time of day for exercise, as research indicates variations in performance based on circadian rhythms, with some athletes performing better in the evening.
To enhance gym performance or achieve personal bests, consider the placebo effect. Athletes taking inert pills or engaging in ‘social placebos’ by training with others experience improved performance, reduced fatigue, and pain perception.
07. Life enhancing hobbies
While idle moments can have surprising benefits, extreme boredom can lead to addictive behaviors and mental health issues. Combat boredom by adopting life enhancing hobbies, which not only keeps the brain youthful but also fosters creativity. Nobel Prize-winning scientists often engage in creative pursuits like music, painting, or writing poetry.
For book enthusiasts, reading fiction enhances empathy and understanding of others’ thoughts and feelings. Reading aloud not only improves memory but also aids comprehension of complex texts. Embracing life enhancing hobbies contributes to mental well-being and cognitive abilities.