Another year, another list of long-forgotten resolutions, right? Remember that summer marathon you meant to train for? Or that juice cleanse you thought might segue into a lifelong veggie obsession? If the beginning of a new year has you sheepishly confronting all those abandoned goals from the last twelve months, you’re definitely not alone.
While there’s no single, comprehensive stat on how many people make and break their New Year’s resolutions (reported failure rates range from 54 percent to a whopping 80 percent), it’s safe to say a significant portion of people who set out to better themselves for a new year wind up slipping back into bad habits. At least one contributing factor in the abandonment of all those optimistic January plans is the reality that lofty, big-picture goals rarely come with immediate payoffs. It turns out the satisfaction you get from checking actionable items off your wellness to-do list can play a role in whether or not you stick to your resolutions.
So this year set your sights on five easy, practical, good-for-you resolutions that you can totally stick to. Here’s your game plan:
1. Make an appointment with your primary care provider — and actually go.
Checking in with your doctor is important — but not for the reasons you might think. Despite what movies and TV shows depict onscreen, your primary care visit doesn’t necessarily mean invasive physical tests and hammer-to-knee reflex exams. But checking in with your provider when you feel like you should does give you the opportunity to talk about your biggest health concerns and get check up on the stuff that really matters.
“Annual visits are a great way to check in about your lifestyle habits,” says New York-based One Medical provider Navya Mysore. “They’re also important to screen for health issues like depression, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colon cancer.”
2. Quit scrolling and swiping and actually get some sleep.
Mysore has some advice: “Have a nighttime ritual and stick to it — try to go to bed and wake up at around the same times, use a white noise machine, and turn off all screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 50 and 70 million U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep — that’s way too many people putting themselves at risk for drowsiness-induced accidents and even an increased risk for certain chronic health conditions.
“Sleep helps us recharge and reset,” says Mysore. “It prevents burn-out and reduces stress levels, increases metabolism, and helps with muscle recovery after workouts.”
But even if you’re well aware of all the awesome benefits of sleep (and how much of a zombie you become when you don’t get enough), you might be stuck in a cycle that prevents you from scoring enough Zs.
3. Unplug and get mindful, even just for a few minutes a day.
When you’re running around trying to accomplish every errand under the sun, the last thing you probably want to do is drop everything to sit still. But mindfulness — the art of being present and noticing what’s happening in the here and now — is about so much more than physically slowing down. Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs have been shown to ease anxiety, and experts believe a regular meditation practice could have the potential to boost overall wellness.
“Calming and grounding, meditation can lower blood pressure and help with sleep,” Mysore says. “Over time, you’ll notice that your mind won't race as much and you can be more present or mindful of events occurring.”
Meditation doesn’t have to be a big, elaborate event — just incorporating a few minutes of mindfulness into your everyday hustle and bustle can make a big difference. “Try meditating first thing in the morning when you wake up. If that isn't possible, try whenever you can — in transit, on a lunch break, etc.”
4. Get super familiar with SPF.
Rain or shine, your must-have accessory every day of the year should be a solid sunscreen with the right kind of protection. “It’s very important to use sunscreen to prevent sun damage and prevent skin cancer,” Mysore says. “Even when it's raining or cloudy and you are out for an extended period of time, you can still get damage from UVA/UVB rays.”
With so many different formulations and brands on the market, you might have questions about which sunscreen is right for you. Products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are a safe bet because they protect against the full spectrum of UVA rays in addition to UVB rays. Mysore likes EltaMD facial sunscreen, and she says nothing less than SPF 30 will do (for most people, 30 is plenty, but up to 50 is fine — there’s no scientific evidence that shows using a sunscreen with a 50+ SPF is better than sunscreen with an SPF of 50).
5. Redefine your idea of exercise.
“Moving every day is great for your heart,” Mysore says. “All evidence shows that 15 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise with two days of strength training helps to improve your heart health.”
But if the thought of a packed gym or trendy workout class makes you want to hide under the covers, take heart: “working out” doesn’t have to be stressful, expensive, or otherwise unbearable. All you need to do is find ways to get your body in action and keep it up. “Do what you enjoy and makes you move,” Mysore says. “Make sure it's convenient — if it's not, you won’t do it. We all have busy days, but the difference with someone who fits in exercise is that they’ve made it a priority — so make it a priority!”
If you still need help figuring out the best way to kick up your self-care in 2019 and beyond, visit https://www.onemedical.com/ to find primary care that covers all the bases (including that annual physical resolution)!
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.