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Life-Changing Resolutions for a Healthier New Year, by Dana Brown

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“Lose weight” and “exercise more” may be the most common New Year’s resolutions, but they’re also the ones most likely to be abandoned by February. Although most of us recognize that our health could be improved, choosing big goals with no concrete path to achieving them is only setting ourselves up for failure. Rather than hoping the new year brings the motivation to break your hardest habits, focus on little changes that are easy to implement. These three resolutions may not be the most glamorous, but they’ll go a long way toward boosting your wellness in 2020:

1. Practice good sleep hygiene

Are you frequently groggy after a full eight hours in bed? If sleep doesn’t seem as restful as it used to, your sleep hygiene could be the problem. Sleep hygiene refers to your bedtime behaviors and how they affect the quality of your rest. If you’re in the habit of watching TV in bed, drinking caffeinated beverages with dinner, or going to bed at a different time each night, you could be affecting not only your energy levels but also your moods, concentration, and memory. To improve your sleep hygiene, the National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping a regular bedtime routine and shutting down electronics at night, among other tips.

One surefire way to improve your sleep quality is to get regular exercise. While most of us have good intentions when it comes to starting a fitness routine, we often struggle to stay with it. You can give yourself a motivational boost by using a fitness tracker or smartwatch to stay up-to-date on your progress. While both these devices can aid you in accomplishing your goals, you’ll likely be able to purchase a fitness tracker for less than a smartwatch (provided you don’t need all the extra bells and whistles).

2. Cook more meals at home

Despite their popularity, crash diets aren’t all that effective at trimming your waistline. Rather, the best strategies to shed pounds involve making little changes over time, like substituting whole grains for refined grains and eliminating the sugar from your morning coffee. One of the best little changes you can make for a better diet is to start cooking more meals at home.

Even the healthiest options at restaurants tend to be loaded with hidden fat, salt, and sugar, making it hard to know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Factor in excessive serving sizes and it’s easy to see where those extra pounds came from. When you prepare meals at home using whole ingredients, you know exactly what you’re eating and how much.

3. Make more “me” time

It’s easy to get caught up in work, chores, and other daily obligations and forget to make time for yourself. Often, it’s only when we’re teetering on the brink of burnout that we appreciate the importance of self-care. But taking care of yourself shouldn’t be a last resort — it should be an integral part of daily life.

Self-care doesn’t have to mean spending money on a spa day or a week-long vacation (although it certainly can!). All you need to start a self-care habit is 10 minutes a day and a quiet place where you can soothe your mind and forget about the day’s stressors. In this personal space, you can meditate (check out these helpful apps), do yoga, create art, read a good book, or any other activity that relaxes and inspires you. By creating a haven within your home, you make it easy to incorporate self-care into a daily routine rather than saving it for special occasions.

The best goals aren’t the biggest ones. Rather, it’s the goals you can reach and maintain that have the greatest impact on your wellbeing. This year, forget the “new year, new you” mantra, and instead choose resolutions that will infuse wellness and joy into every year to come.

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